These days, people really do want to connect to your brand, and they’re going to buy more from the businesses and brands that they trust and have those genuine connections with. Pat Flynn’s book Superfans explores how having an engaged community can help you grow your business. This book was such a fun and interesting read for me, so I want to share some key takeaways with you!
Most of what I’m sharing here is from the introduction or part one of the book. So, you’ll need to read the book to get all of the details.
If you’ve ever heard someone talk about content creation or sales funnels, you might have heard them say “everybody finds your website at a different stage in their journey.” They may have been following you on Instagram for a while, and then they click over to your website once they’re ready to buy from you. Or, they might have a question, do a Google search, and discover your brand for the first time when they click on your website in the search results. Those two people are going to have different needs when they land on your site.
So what Pat Flynn is saying here is kind of similar to that idea, but he’s grouping people based on their stage of awareness with your brand, and also how connected and loyal they feel to the brand. His “Pyramid of Fandom” has four sections:
It’s helpful to think about your audience in that way, so that you can better serve each segment. If the goal is to have superfans, what kind of experiences, information, and content are you putting out there for people so that they can get to know your business and if you’re a good fit for them?
In the book, Pat teaches you methods and strategies to help guide people from the casual audience level to super fans – in an authentic and personal way.
When talking about his pyramid concept and comparing it the traditional “inverted pyramid” sales funnel that we often hear about in marketing (which goes, traffic > subscribers > sales page > customers), Pat Flynn shares:
“Unfortunately, in many cases, the funnels and the numbers behind them often become more important than the actual experiences that real human beings behind the numbers are having.” (Superfans, page 33)
So powerful, right?! Sometimes I have to remind myself to step back and ask, ‘Is this thing I’m creating actually helpful to someone? Is this content encouraging? Will this tip helped them with their website?’ or whatever my goal is with a piece of content. It’s so important to think about the experience that the person who’s consuming the content or experiencing the service or product is going to have, and not just thinking about getting the business result we hope for.
Instead of trying to get all the traffic, having a smaller group of people who love your brand and want to support you can be more attainable, and still be profitable! In the book, Pat Flynn summarizes Kevin Kelly’s essay, “1000 True Fans.” The premise, as Pat explains it:
“If you had just one thousand true fans (which [Kelly] defines as ‘a fan that will buy anything you produce’) and each of those true fans provided $100 profit per year on your art, your craft, your work, well, there’s your six-figure business right there!” (Superfans, page 25)
Pat also uses his own catchy rephrasing of this idea: “You don’t need to change the entire world to build a successful business; you just need to change someone’s world.” (Superfans, page 26)
I know it can feel like helping just one person won’t make you any money! But the idea is that if you have someone who truly connects with your brand, that person will tell their friends and their family – then, things will grow from there.
The next point is something that I remind myself of often: to return every handshake. It’s the idea that you want to make everyone in your audience feel seen, heard, and welcomed by responding anytime someone reaches out to interact with you.
This gets harder as your business grows. I have less than 500 followers on Instagram, and I know sometimes if I have a busy day and I’m not on Instagram, or just with all the platform changes, I miss a comment or DM. So I know that if this is hard for me, with my small audience, it only gets harder as your audience gets bigger.
You have to give yourself grace, but Pat’s point here is to just try to respond to as many people as you can. People will notice, and it makes them connect to you so much more. Especially in this internet era that we live in, it feels like anytime you reach out to a business and get to talk to an actual person, they become more memorable to you. It makes you feel special when someone actually responds.
Pat says in the book, “Don’t leave anyone hanging. Follow up with everybody, especially when it’s their first interaction with your brand.” (Superfans, page 69)
He also recommends that if you have a big audience, like he does, to consider having a team member help you with this. Just have someone from your team who can respond, even if it’s not you, the CEO.
The last point I’d like to share might obvious, but I think it’s something that we forget sometimes: community building can be fun. I don’t know about you, but I often get caught up in figuring out my marketing strategy, learning the algorithm, or stuck on that content creation hamster wheel. And then I forget that I have the opportunity to connect with real people in a fun, authentic way.
So as he’s talking about creating a superfan journey and why you should read the rest of the book, Pat Flynn shares:
“Creating experiences that will move and inspire your audience to act and connect with you is exciting – way more fun than just number crunching and worrying about conversion rates and optimization. That stuff is important, of course. But if you’re having more fun, you’re going to be happier, and your business is going to thrive.” (Superfans, page 34)