But if you engage with that vocal minority who talk about your business on social media, forums and blogs so that it expands, more customers may become advocates for your brand rather than just passively watching. And the more people talking about your brand will mean awareness about your products or activities will only spread further.
In the same way, Andre Agassi thrived on the support of his audience, particularly on the court. Where many players made tennis look easy, his approach was more akin to 'problem solving'; putting puzzle pieces together one at a time. He says his fans could see his struggle to make it work – and that put them on the road to victory with him.
Taking your customers and prospects along for the ride means engaging them in the conversation and giving them opportunities to be a part of the story, as Agassi did with tennis.
Irene Falcone, CEO of natural products provider Nourished Life, agrees that a two-way conversation is more effective than just broadcasting a message. "I'll often reach out to my customers and ask for their opinions on products and trends because their thoughts matter," Falcone says. "They know I'll listen and take everything into consideration."
Mean what you say
A personal conversation is also crucial because consumers are far better at identifying spin over authentic engagement than most companies give them credit for. Falcone says her social media channels have let her build up relationships based on honesty and trust. “You can't build a following if you're not truly genuine in the values you promote,” she says.
As the owner of a proudly ethical business, Falcone has learned through engaging directly with her customers just how much they share her values of honesty and transparency. "If customers know they can trust you, they'll be more likely to recommend your business to friends and family."
A lot of marketing experts will tell you to stop looking at social media followers or blog commenters as customers (or potential ones). One super-fan might only buy one item of stock, but their advocacy might lead to hundreds of others doing so, prompting more passionate followers.
All of which means you shouldn't take the journey alone. Agassi says allowing his fans to watch him figure the game out connected them to his career in a unique way.
Of the standing ovation he received after his final match, Agassi says his tears of gratitude were really saying “thank you for sharing your journey with me, pulling me through tough moments, celebrating triumphs. I realise I couldn't be here without you and I took you along for the ride.”
You can serve aces in business the same way they do in tennis, and often the best way to do it is to turn your customers into passionate advocates and let them do it for you.