Find your brand’s fanatics.

I love the highly inappropriate, cult hit show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There isn’t a single thing I don’t love about this show: the off-the-charts inappropriate humor, the ability to do satire in a way that not even Family Guy, The Simpsons or any Comedy Central show have ever been able to do before, and mostly, the never-been-done topics that leaving you guessing each time the black screen comes on and the episode title displays.

One of my (many) favorite episodes is the World Series Defense episode showcasing the insane love the gang and the guest casts all have for the Philadelphia Phillies. This episode hits on one thing that Americans do really, really well. Become fanatics.

Whether it’s sports, celebrities, musicians, TV shows, movies, comic characters, social media…whatever, we know how to love something until we have an unhealthy emotional attachment to everything about it.

But it doesn’t stop at just me or you, or any one individual. When we’re fans, you better believe we loop in the whole family. I was strolling the streets of Disney’s Magic Kingdom last year, seeing so many adults with kids in tow were obsessing over the newest Star Wars (and many other Disney brands) product replica release, telling their kids after buying one of the items that the kids could borrow the item they just bought, but that it was the parents’. Those kids weren’t even born when Star Wars was first released, but they were raised to love it.

So what does all of this have to do with Staples Promotional Products? Fanatics are the heroes of more than just consumer-facing goods/services/entertainment. Fans can become a part of your brand. And they can be a part of it in a healthy, mutually beneficial way.

Sales and marketing evaluates their audiences by identifying demographic truths about  potential and current buyers, so they can better market and service them. And sometimes they also identify the psychographic side of customers. This is where the magic starts to happen and brands reach a new level with their audience. This level resonates deeper. It engages with customers beyond confined segments of their day (such as only at work), but into all facets (their car, their homes, their extra-curricular activities) of their life.

What can you do to tap into the fan clubs? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Identify your cult audience.

What type of customers do you have? Are they moviegoers, are they avid readers, are they outdoorsman?

Once you have identified a stream you can find out what reaches this audience. (Suggestion: survey them and get a more accurate representation of their interests.)

  1. Strategize how your brand can immerse itself into the fan club.

You’ll want to dedicate time for team members to learn the trend – how to represent it with your brand, where to best engage with customers, how to plan and execute (timing, frequency and commitment).

Go beyond developing a product strategy that is going to be loved by this audience. Become a part of the club. Create entire marketing campaigns that hit on the interest.  Join conversations on social media, become a social influencer.

  1. Engage influencers.

Influencers can spread your message like wildfire. But make it worth their time. Require commitment from them – but don’t force them to pay out of pocket to join. Offer them a free item to use in their post that they can position to their audience. Always ask that they create _X_ number of posts in a certain time frame. Also, be sure to require they are connected to your accounts to grow your organic audience as well.

Leverage your organic posts to better engagement with them. Have posts that offer giveaways/discounts to winners who share and get the most action. Connect with your influencers behind-the-scenes through Facebook groups or an internal, backend site if your teams are able to dedicate the time to support one.

  1. Monitor the success of the campaign.

It’s more than just sales here, it really ties into how your audience perceives and values your brand before and after launching the campaign.

Have you given the project enough time to thoroughly evaluate the success? Or should you take a pulse but keep moving the direction your headed and see how it continues? Is success high enough that it’s worth investing more time and resources?

Always invest the time up front to thoroughly research. When it comes to fan clubs the worst thing you can do is alienate your brand from the beginning by not knowing and understanding the audience. But, when you do know them and can be a part of the club, you will be able to reap dramatic rewards.