Building a Grade A Herd of Customers

by Dan Kennedy | June 26, 2011

So there's herds and then there are responsive and loyal herds. We want to develop the best possible herd as we can have, which in a business sense means value, responsiveness, and equity. In business terms you want to build your list, and from it you get a herd of customers, clients, members, and so forth. Today, I want to talk about how not to wind up with a diseased herd, an inferior herd, or a low value herd, and how you can make changes to revitalize your dreadful herd.

1. Personality

The first component to creating a responsive herd is Personality. There are business arguments for not creating a brand based on your personality, but there are also arguments for being institutional rather than being personal. The most compelling argument against implementing a personal brand is what happens when you go to sell the company to some great big, giant, big dumb company? Is it an impediment or is it not an impediment? But by and large a personality driven business is infinitely easier to build herd value as compared to a non-personality driven business.

2. Philosophy

Another relationship factor is Philosophy. People either attach or fail to attach to a belief system. It doesn't matter if you are teaching something extremely technical; you can't sustain a relationship based on that training alone. However valuable it may be, it is fundamentally devoid of emotional connection. Relationship's are all about emotional connection. When you have a belief system that you stand for and represent, it will consequently result in your followers beginning to feel attachment to what you're doing.

Your beliefs need to be interwoven and reflected in everything that you do. I have one belief, and most of you probably know it. When I make business decisions I look for ways that we can be consistent not just with 'how to' but with 'why to' do something? This creates a philosophical connection.

This is a little more subtle, but some of you will notice I have not had myself depicted in a hammock sleeping and money flowing from the sky. Rather, I have myself depicted with more than two arms working feverishly doing two different things at the same time and money is appearing. Why? Because I happen to advocate work and I make things happen instead of it appearing as a mindless endeavor.

Do you have a philosophical component? Do your clients know what it is? And are they attaching themselves to it? There is a mission aspect to this because people tend to want to be attached and feel involved with something. Again that has a higher, more meaningful purpose than just growing their business, making more money, and certainly then transactions between parties.

3. Frequency

Now for a mechanical nature, frequency is very important. How frequently do we need to be in a customer's life? I say that you should be in their life pretty much daily. The value of a customer is either going up or going down in every single day. Therefore, if your primary connection with your customers occurs once a month then there are 29 days of value lost in that herd before you try and pump the value back up. That's a bad equation.

I recently had a meeting with the CEO of Tupperware, which is a classic direct sales company. And we talked a little bit about how that industry tried, for about a five year period, to eliminate a lot of the boots on the ground and manual labor. Instead, they were trying to move the whole thing online and use more efficient webinars and so forth. Some of the big companies nearly went broke doing it, but Tupperware never did it. He said something that I have used myself as an example many times and that is that no matter what religion you pick, it doesn't matter what outfit they wear or what hat they have on their head, what God they worship, what set of commandments they follow, the one commonality in all of religions is they try and get everybody to a meeting once a week.

Well, there's a reason for that. They need the frequency in order to get longevity. So there's a reason that there's church every Sunday. It's because seven days is about as far as they can let people go without losing them all together.

So consistency is really about institutionalized standards of things happening which creates a level of expectation and anticipation.

4. Dependency

When you can create something that results in your customers depending on you, it is quite possibly better than any of the other herd building techniques. For example, crack dealers don't have to work real hard to keep their herd together. They don't have to have a good location. They don't have to be in a good neighborhood. They don't have to dress well. They don't have to send out a customer newsletter. They don't have to have customer appreciation events. All they have to do is have crack and the right semantics, and they're good to go.

The next closest thing to it is true emotional dependency. If your clients don't pay attention for a week or two, do they start to feel withdrawal symptoms about not paying attention to you or not hearing from you? If you want to test this, just don't send your stuff out for a month and see how many people call. If the phone ain't ringing three or four days after it usually gets there I got news for you, you've got problems.
5. Motivation

A lot of people don't motivate their herd enough. Even people who appear to be successful by comparison to others in their type of business or their community lack the capability to be self-motivated and confident. The truth is, most people are not self-motivating individuals.

There's a reason why NFL players have a coach, and get a pep talk before they go out to play every big game. Logically this should not be necessary. These guys are getting paid millions of dollars to go out there and play the game. They've practiced all week to play the game. Some of them are five years, six years, and seven plus year veterans. They know how to play the game. They should not need somebody standing up on a chair giving them a pep talk and leading them in the cheer. But, watch what happens when a coach decides not to do that. There's a word for it, two words actually; Dallas, Cowboys.

6. Implementation

When it comes to tactical implementation you must think of the media that you can use. People respond to different media. Most people will welcome more frequent and constant contact if it arrives through multiple channels rather than one channel. So if you're only showing up one or two ways, it's easier to overdo it and your customers will more readily start to say, "oh my God is he here again" than if you're contacting them frequently through multiple channels.

If you stick to your narrow core range you will lose the interest of the herd and you will have longevity problems. You must expand the scope of your discussion with your herd over a period of time in order to hold their attention. Now, the good news about that is they want you to. So if they buy you as an expert about 'A' they want you to be their expert about B-C-D-E and F however unqualified you may be or however irrational that may be, they want it. So the foundation is there.

7. Referrals and Involvement

Ask yourself how many referrals actually generate business? That's a very good measurement because it's a higher standard.

Subjective measurements are necessary to evaluate where you stand with your client base. Are they writing to you like they would write to Elvis if he wasn't dead? Are you getting fan mail? Are they writing and telling you personal stuff? If so, that means they have a personal relationship with you.

Are they sending you gifts? Do they bring you stuff? Not necessarily big stuff. How many members of your herd made something for you last year? Did you get cookies? Well, that's a subjective measurement but it's an important measurement.

8. Success Reports

Is your herd looking to you for acceptance, acknowledgment, and recognition? Or, do you have to chase them down in order to get testimonials? Are they coming in voluntarily? Do they want to participate?

So, chatter online, chatter offline and in person. The most important thing to build your herd is you must measure and evaluate your success. You need to have measurements in place. You need to be cognoscente of it. You need to be working on it. Don't just be focused on how many followers. You must focus on value because all the equity, all the wealth, and all the sustainability is in the value based on the relationship, not the numbers and certainly not the list.


Dan S. Kennedy is the provocative, truth-telling author of thirteen business books; a serial, multi-millionaire entrepreneur; trusted marketing advisor, consultant and coach to hundreds of private clients running businesses from $1-million to $1-billion in size; and he influences well over 1-million independent business owners annually through his newsletters, tele-coaching programs, local Chapters and Kennedy Study Groups meeting in over 100 cities.


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