5 Tips for Building a Fanatical Customer Base

Sriracha. Lululemon. Linux. Trader Joe’s.

What do all these companies have in common? They’ve built a devoted, cult-like following — their customers spend money on their product, look to them for identity cues and, best of all, promote them to others.

How can your small business develop customers so loyal that they ‘refuse to go anywhere else’? Here’s a few tips and real-life examples of brands who have customers that would follow them anywhere.

  • Tap into what your target customer values: You can’t be everything to everyone, so get a clear picture of what your target customer looks like and make sure that your product or service appeals to what they care about most.

For example, Warby Parker has disrupted the traditional eyeglasses market by designing a product that appeals to Millennial values. Their inexpensive price tag appeals to people that grew up on fast fashion and want to change their look everyday. Warby Parker satisfies Millennials’ need to feel good about what they are purchasing by donating a pair of glasses for every pair sold. Their Instagram account is engaging, funny and communicates to Millennials’ on their own terms. Finally, Warby Parker offers a try-at-home model that appeals to busy, e-comm savvy shoppers.

  • Do something unexpected: So, maybe your product or service isn’t reinventing the wheel. Why not showcase it in a new, refreshing way? Spin classes have been popular for decades but Soul Cycle has created a community that is built around “earning” your way to the front row of the class. REI was just another upscale sporting goods company until they rocked the industry by refusing to open on Black Friday and instead, giving their employees paid time off to #optoutside. It ballooned into an entire movement that was embraced by their customers all over the world.
  • Build trust: Show off the knowledge and expertise you’ve gained as a small business owner. MAC Cosmetics’ devotees love that every single MAC employee is just as obsessed with makeup as they are. Plus, anytime you walk into a MAC store, you can get a free makeover by a pro— done with all MAC products, of course. 
  • Don’t be afraid to go luxury: This won’t be an option for every small business, of course, but don’t ever forget about humans’ psychological need to feel that they are a part of something exclusive and illusory. Brands like Airstream, Harley-Davidson, Nordstrom and Kiehl’s don’t apologize for their hefty price tags and that pride rubs off on the consumers of their brands. Just make sure you can back up your pricing and attitude with impeccable quality.
  • Be social, be local: The Internet and social media are one in the same now. You simply cannot avoid being active on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Instagram or Pinterest if you want to build a loyal community of locals. DAVIDs Tea sells the second most consumed drink on the planet, after water, and yet they spend most of their marketing focus on, “posting about community events, local partnerships and exciting single-store initiatives. Whenever optimal, content is also geo-targeted to guarantee that it’s relevant to the recipient,” says Youri Hollier, Content Marketing Manager.

Try out some of these ideas, get inspired and watch the cult following of customers who can’t wait to spend money on your brand appear!