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Tesla owners can give you numerous reasons why they believe their vehicle is superior to other makes and models, many a diehard Apple user would simply never switch to an Android device… and you’ll likely never catch a Starbucks enthusiast skipping their morning Caffè Misto or Pike Place ritual.

The results of such brands of customer engagement can seem over the top to some, but all business owners should take resulting lessons on the importance of attracting and developing raving fans. These loyal customers not only generate recurring revenue, but also positive buzz around products and services, and so influence other consumers’ buying habits.

Why are raving fans critical to success?

We all want customers to say nice things about our company, brand, products and services, but most business owners don’t understand how much of an impact that makes on the bottom line. Word of mouth drives approximately $6 trillion in global spending and roughly 13% of all sales. A majority of marketing experts (64%), meanwhile, agree that word of mouth is the most effective (and inexpensive) form of marketing, especially when customers become brand ambassadors by sharing experiences and encouraging friends and family to buy/participate.

The current economic climate is applying additional pressure: With high inflation and a potential recession on the horizon, consumers are being more cautious about where they spend. That said, they are less likely to cut spending on products and services that inspire passion, and can also help drum up new business, which means reduced dependence on marketing and advertising.

Related: 5 Proven Customer Loyalty Programs That Pay Actually Off

How to attract this class of customers?

1. Build a unique product or experience

Boring and/or redundant products are less likely to get praise, even from loyal customers, so the first step is offering something that stands out from the competition. Give people a reason to rave! And if your product is similar to others, then consider options like enhancing the customer experience, investing in great packaging or offering extended warranties.

2. Connect with a specific audience

Establishing a niche is critical. People naturally gravitate toward a brand that aligns with their interests. Niche communities are often tightly-knit, too; their members will likely know many similar people who’ll love what you have to offer.

3. Build feel-good stories on social media

According to We Are Social’s The Global State of Digital for October 2022, the world’s social media users grew by 190 million over the year prior, to 4.74 billion. Unfortunately, many companies use these platforms as opportunities to bombard consumers with bland marketing messages. Instead, make an effort to leverage yours to build authentic and feel-good stories about your company, its values and its products. This will make it far more likely that fans will repost and share messages with connections.

Related: Is Social Media Really That Important for Your Business?

4. Reward loyalty

The goal is to make your most ardent customers feel valued and important, which can be accomplished with something as simple as exclusive access to new products, unique content or special deals and discounts. Also consider customer loyalty programs (linked to tier levels) to encourage even more interaction and purchasing.

5. Exceed expectations

Nowadays, delivering exactly what’s promised is a blanket expectation, so taking this approach alone won’t develop cheering fans. Brands that go above and beyond, however, encourage people to share experiences with others. And achieving this needn’t be a massive effort: basic steps like making sure products are received before the anticipated delivery date can make a huge difference.

6. Listen

Customers are often willing to tell you a lot about what it would take to make them raving fans, so be sure to regularly gather and listen to feedback, suggestions and opinions. This can provide insights about pain points and enhance both a product and its customer experience, and there are many ways of gathering it, including customer surveys, product return details and social media outreaches.

Related: The Sales Game Has Changed. Here’s How to Keep Up.

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