Why Raving Fans Are Money in the Bank

Blue Bell Ice Cream is an iconic brand for millions of consumers in the South. But this spring, a listeria outbreak linked to Blue Bell Ice Cream shut them down from April to November. Normally, this would spell disaster for a brand. But not Blue Bell. Instead of customers flocking to other brands, they impatiently waited for the return of this iconic brand. Consumers weren’t concerned about getting listeria. They were concerned about …

How Blue Bell's raving fans reacted when their product came back.
How Blue Bell’s raving fans reacted when their product came back. From Nola.com.

Blue Bell Ice Cream is an iconic brand for millions of consumers in the South. But this spring, a listeria outbreak linked to Blue Bell Ice Cream shut them down from April to November. Normally, this would spell disaster for a brand. But not Blue Bell. Instead of customers flocking to other brands, they impatiently waited for the return of this iconic brand. Consumers weren’t concerned about getting listeria. They were concerned about when Blue Bell would return.

Little was ever mentioned in local media or social media from consumers about the fear of getting sick. And when Blue Bell came back last month, there were lines of customers and local news reporting put Blue Bell in the headlines daily.

This level of loyalty is unusual, especially when tainted product could produce serious illness and in some cases death. Still, the Blue Bell brand prevailed.

It took millions of outside investment dollars from a wealthy Texan to keep the company in business, but this investor could see why throwing his money at this would pay off.

The reason? Blue Bell doesn’t just have customers. It has raving fans.

Credit to Memecrunch for this one. https://memecrunch.com/meme/3N7JY/i-has-blue-bell-ice-cream
Credit to Memecrunch for this one.

Cultivating raving fans is money in the bank. I’ve seen this with Blue Bell, and I’ve seen it in a niche market for a performing chorus whose marketing I oversee (where last weekend we again sold out Christmas Show performances and thousands of CDs and digital downloads of a brand new recording).

So what does it take to create raving fans? I think the foundational requirement is this: Consistently producing an extraordinary product over an extended period of time.

And how can you emulate a successful company to support an extraordinary product?

Blue Bell's Homemade in the Shade product announcement.
Blue Bell’s Homemade in the Shade product announcement.
  • Know what your customer wants
  • Stick with your product … be careful with changes or upgrades
  • Consistent message and brand
  • Meet your customers where they are, in the right channels
  • Always deliver exceptional customer experiences and service

When you have the loyalty of raving fans, even when things are down, they’ll support you. Raving fans will market your product for you on social media. In a crisis, local news media will often pick up the story because they’re driven to report what people want to hear or read (which drives more advertising dollars for the media).

Want to take more money to the bank? Cultivate raving fans.

Author: Gary Hennerberg

Reinventing Direct is for the direct marketer seeking guidance in the evolving world of online marketing. Gary Hennerberg is a mind code marketing strategist, based on the template from his new book, "Crack the Customer Mind Code." He is recognized as a leading direct marketing consultant and copywriter. He weaves in how to identify a unique selling proposition to position, or reposition, products and services using online and offline marketing approaches, and copywriting sales techniques. He is sought-after for his integration of direct mail, catalogs, email marketing, websites, content marketing, search marketing, retargeting and more. His identification of USPs and copywriting for clients has resulted in sales increases of 15 percent, 35 percent, and even as high as 60 percent. Today he integrates both online and offline media strategies, and proven copywriting techniques, to get clients results. Email him or follow Gary on LinkedIn. Co-authoring this blog is Perry Alexander of ACM Initiatives. Follow Perry on LinkedIn.

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