Creating Customer Evangelists

July 1, 2005 in 5 out of 5 stars, A book

What is it?

Creating Customer Evangelists: A book that teaches you how to take your company's best customers and build them into influential, loyal, and enthusiastic evangelists.


Who makes it?

Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba

Why is it the killerest?

In my own experience as an entrepreneur--doing business is a process of trial and error, learn-as-you-go, practice-makes-perfect work. Most of us burn piles of money, effort, time and energy just trying to figure out what works. If we manage to have some success before we run out of any of those things, then we pay very close attention to what worked, and we try to do it again, and again, and again. Learning what those things are is tough, especially when it's done by trial and error (which is what most of us do, which is why most companies don’t survive).

The most critical component to a successful business is having something people will buy. The second most critical component to a successful business is getting people to buy it. This is also known as sales and marketing; marketing in particular (because a good product will sell itself). And we all know that the most powerful and least expensive marketing is word-of-mouth marketing.

And we all want as much of it as we can get.

Take Krispy Kreme (KK) donuts for example. Aside from a few billboards helping folks know where the store is located, KK does virtually no advertising. Their stock price has hit a few snags of late thanks to the anti-carb craze, yet, they are a house-hold name, they are adored by anyone lucky enough to have one in their city, they always have insanely long lines, and everyone I know is an absurdly loyal word-of-mouth marketer for them. Or more precisely, everyone I know is an absurdly loyal customer evangelist for them. Remember this story? About the Krispy Kreme opening in Mishawaka Indiana where a customer sat in line for 17 (yes, SEVENTEEN) days awaiting the opening of the store? Fierce customer loyalty. The press went nuts. Oodles of free marketing.

Every business wants to know how to tap into that. Or better yet, create that. And for those that don't have the resources (or luck) to run through piles of money in trial-and-error mode to figure out exactly how to hit the word-of-mouth marketing target, authors Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba have saved us the hassle.

Creating Customer Evangelists is an extraordinary book. The authors studied several companies (including Krispy Kreme) that have created customer evangelists. The authors then identified exactly what those companies did to make that magic happen.

The presentation is clear, brilliant, enlightening, and extremely exciting.

As a business person you likely find yourself trying to determine exactly what works, trying lots of new ideas, straining to recognize what works.

Well, I loved this book because the authors identify those elements that work. They outline the elements needed to create the kind of word-of-mouth marketing success every business needs, and then explain how to incorporate those elements in your business.

Here, in a nutshell, are the key tenets covered in the book:

  1. Customer plus delta: How customer feedback drives word of mouth
  2. Napsterize your knowledge: As knowledge is shared, it becomes more valuable
  3. Build the buzz: Understanding the roles of megahubs and network hubs
  4. Create community: Why customer communities are valuable and drive sales
  5. Make bite-size chunks: Strategies for simplifying complex sales so customers tell others
  6. Create a cause: Crossing the emotional chasm with customers so they believe in you

Just reading them again gives me warm fuzzies. This is a book I read and found myself clinching my fist--YES! I get it! That makes sense!

I love good business books; I've always got one I'm nursing along. But this one really stood out. I left the book with solid ideas that I implement today. I've started to incorporate them into my own business, and advise clients how to incorporate them into theirs. And I've begun to see the fruits. Better customer loyalty, increased connection with customers, increased spread by word-of-mouth. Plus, I have a whole basket full of great ideas, inspired by the book, which I can't wait to pursue.

What could be improved?

The book is growing slightly dated in the companies, they profiled, but absolutely not in the principles they teach. This book is 100% relevant today. Note: The authors also have an excellent blog, and a free ebook to freshen up the case studies with more current examples.

How much does it cost?

$16.50 at Amazon


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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