Enthusiasts vs Normals

First Chris Dixon tweeted, “Does anyone really want to have a “conversation with brands”? I I want my relationship to Starbucks limited to buying coffee.

jumpingforjoyRoger Ehrenberg then responded with a great post on authenticity in brand conversations.

I would argue that they are both right, they are just talking about two different people.  Just as Dixon once wrote about techies vs normals, when it comes to brands there are enthusiasts and normals.

Every good brand has enthusiasts.  I spoke recently to a large apparel company who has an email list of some 40 million customers, but about 2 million of them will open every marketing email.  These people love to hear from their beloved brand, they crave a personal connection of some kind (i.e. authenticity), they will follow a twitter or Facebook feed (and not just for deals), and they don’t need cash prizes or direct incentives to get involved in an initiative.

Not every brand has these people, but every brand should try to cultivate an enthusiast base.

From a startup perspective, you want to think about how you can get *your* enthusiasts involved and evangelizing.  Brainstorm on something more active than mere retweets and email forwarding.  It needs to be fun, meaningful and people cannot feel used.  Again, you *don’t* need a cash prize.

Don’t forget that the majority of your customers will be “normals” (which affects your product design decisions), but if you are lucky enough to have enthusiasts, involve them and cultivate the relationship as much as you can!

OK, back into the cave for this product push…here beta… heeeerrrreee beta, good boy!

Interesting recent posts somewhat related:

  • i agree with you about the definition of our customers… we don't have to reach special profil…. juste to consider that they are normals

  • For me, the issue is that “brand enthusiast” is a business-speak marketing term. I don't want to be a “consumer”, I just want to buy a cup of copy”. Similarly, I don't want to be a “brand enthusiast”, I just want to get awesome service and get excited about it.

    Enthusiasts are not born out of strategy meetings and PR campaigns, they are made when someone offers an awesome service for a fair price. Starbucks is super-swanky and totally “in”, but I'm just not a fan of their product (coffee) and the price isn't so hot. I might buy from them occasionally, but I won't be a consumer. On the other hand, this stuff (https://www.mdmoms.com/index.php) fixed my son's cradle cap and chronic diaper rashes when nothing else would work. So I go around telling every mom I know and gifting it to new babies. I don't think of myself as a “brand enthusiast”, I just think it's so helpful for other moms to know about it

  • They are just words to talk about a certain type of customer. I prefer “enthusiast” to other marketing-speak words used out there, but perhaps there is a better one. The point isn't to get hung up on a particular word (like some people go ape over the word “user” in software land), but for a business to think about how they can work with, inspire, and encourage their most passionate customers (rather than just passively sitting back and letting word of mouth do it's thing, or not)