Stephanie Hickman, junior account director at Wasserman, says finding superfans can be a route to events success.
Anyone working in the event and activations industry will have come across a few superfans in their time: they are always at the head of the queue, and they hang on every update, engaging consistently through their own social media channels.
They choose your products over your competitors’, share your updates and promotions with their friends, and serve as hard working ambassadors for your brand, products and events. They are marketers’ biggest advocates – and they are largely unacknowledged.
Yet superfans are highly valuable to brands for the simple fact that they are loyal, enthusiastic and authentic.
Given that influencers are losing their lustre (both with brands and consumers) and the industry is being battered with bad news (fake followers and false likes are well documented), marketers could do worse than shift their focus to marketing’s most underused secret weapon.
During my time with Wasserman, I have worked on delivering events, activations and partnerships for some of the world’s biggest brands. Here are some of the top lessons I’ve learned about how to make the most out of the humble superfan…
Find your superfans
In order to turn your superfans into your assets, you need to fully understand them. You need to know where they are active, what they are sharing and where they are engaging outside of your world.
This means that you need to be able to keep track of your customers, and incentivise them to hand over their personal data to you. Fortunately, the superfan is more easily motivated than the average person on the street, and will readily sign over their email addresses and any other personal details in exchange for rewards schemes, entry pass events or priority tickets.
By having this data, you are able to start direct conversations with your superfans. More importantly, you are able to monitor what their interests are, and where they interact outside of your events/ brand activations. This data can help you tap into an audience which you may never have realised would be interested in your events before.
Build an authentic relationship with them
By their very nature, superfans want to be your biggest champions, and they want to do all they can to recruit new supporters to your fans and events. However, you must make sure to not take them for granted, and look to build a relationship with them by treating them with the respect they deserve.
Superfans will be the first in the queue to spend their money on any merchandise, so it’s easy for some event organisers to fall into the trap of building a relationship based more on exploitation than reward. This is bad business sense because you run the risk of damaging your relationship with your core audience – with the very people who will be the best and most vocal ambassadors of your events and activations.
You need to treat your superfans well, and you need to create rewards packages that target them exclusively. For superfans, the offer of a free piece of merchandise, exclusive preview or advance tickets, is a privilege, and will do wonders in helping to secure your relationship with them. If you don’t have the budget to offer tailored rewards packages, then you can make them feel valued with smaller, more cost-effective moves – such as by making sure they are the first to know about events, activity and stories that are related to your brand.
Essentially, you need to enable and empower them to be the ambassadors that they already want to be.
Make sure you choose event partners who your superfans support
When it comes to keeping superfans happy, many event organisers fall down at the last hurdle; namely, when it comes to selecting partners to sponsor or be involved in the event in some way.
It’s amazing how easy it can be for event organisers and brand managers to alienate their key audiences by getting into bed with partners which are not a cultural fit. The furore surrounding BP’s sponsorship of the RSC shows how easy it can be for brands to inflict damage on themselves by not thinking strategically about their event partners.
We’ve also seen strong examples of where the right choice of partners can help elevate an event. For instance, the Red Bull Music academy has evolved from the sponsorship of a series of workshops into the creation of a leading international music platform.
In order to make sure you have a strong partnership strategy in place, you need to make sure your research is watertight. It all goes back to the first point about finding and understanding your superfans – you need to know what makes them tick. If you have this information, you will be able to target partners who will keep your superfans on side, and hopefully even enhance your event offering.