They mean well, those attempts at quantifying the worth of a fan to a brand. After all, if we're keen on convincing organizations that they should join the conversation we need to be able to quantify exactly what they get out of it, right?
I mellowed since I wrote you're asking the wrong question.
What if we asked how much is your brand worth to a fan, instead? Not so much in terms of what you can make people do. More about what people are inspired and attracted to be as a result of their association with a brand, use of a product or a service.
How would you calculate that?
First, think big, don't act small. This is more an attitude adjustment than a counter argument to marketing acts of doing lots and lots of small good things. Just to be sure we understand each other. Let's look at some common categories used to judge the worth of fans as a start:
- product spending — what's the value of the product to a fan? Are they going to use it to be productive, is it going to help them get a job or do it better, acquire a skill, make friends, look or feel cool, etc.? Customer-focused and consistently innovative brands do well here.
- fan loyalty — is the brand in it for the long haul? Are you organizing your model as customer-centric? In marketing terms, this means the 5Rs, with a twist for this post. Are you relevant, reaching customers when they are most receptive? Do you respond at all (never mind to offerings)? Is it easy to recognize when you're loyal to customers? And finally, do you invite a relationship through experience?
- social capital –are any of the brand's activities, your activities, centered around encouraging and supporting the passion of fans? What kinds of deep interactions are there in the communities you sponsor, or build? How do those interactions help your fans build social capital? People recommend brands and products that make them look and feel good.
- fan affinity — do you like your customers and fans? That's ground zero for establishing something meaningful together. The best sales professionals know that people buy from people they like. Also, there is a trick I learned, when you genuinely like someone and demonstrate that, they generally like you back. Which is the reason why humanizing the business works… Do you feel connected to your fans?
- earned media value — this one makes me smile. Because often brands, particularly established brands, think nothing of riding on customers reviews and testimonials, yet have such a hard time thinking about the reverse situation. Instead, they often think about people riding on the brand's coattails… I think about that when famous authors publicists insist I would be honored to interview those authors on my (should I think of it as modest, puny, insignificant?) blog. As publishers, content creators, and conversationalists, your customers have media value, whether you acknowledge it or not. Even fence sitters can rescue big brands.
Going back to the idea of calculated control; a brand can always control the effort it puts into its worth, expressing it in the kind of experience it provides at every touch point.
It's about doing, taking action, demonstrating something that makes it worth the attention of the people who are attuned to that action.
What people say they do vs. what they actually do shows up in your bottom line. Why would they choose you over so many choices? Looking at the big picture, are you blind to the fact that they "liked" all your competitors as well? What does that mean if you don't have the information above?
The game changers tend not to look at survey results where questions were asked of many companies and people doing and optimizing the same things. They look at the market potential and the paradigm shift that is possible.
So isn't it time to start calculating how much your brand is worth to a fan? Because that's what they buy from you.