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02:58 – Juggling business and family
07:30 – “Come in here and see what I’m doing”
09:54 – The superfans-money connection
14:46 – One platform, or multiple?
16:32 – Pat Flynn’s first fan
20:10 – What the ordinary person can do
22:59 – Have the right lyrics
24:26 – The small, quick win
26:23 – Get people involved
27:58 – The digital high-five
30:21 – Scaling your reach
32:18 – The dark side of having fans
36:33 – Summing things up
Win quality customers for your business with help from James
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. This is Episode 673. And we’re talking about how to create superfans. And for that, I brought along somewhat of an expert in this field, Pat Flynn. Welcome.
Pat: Thanks, James. Glad to be here.
James: This is not your first time on the show. The last time you were on here was actually six years ago in Episode 225. And we had a great discussion back then. We were talking about your story and your journey, which you’ve showed no signs of slowing. You’re actually getting stronger and bigger in the marketplace. Over the last six years, you’ve had quite a transformation. In fact, I think now you’ve had over 55 million downloads of Smart Passive Income. You’ve got a thriving YouTube channel. You’re now running events, live events, you’re still very strong with your affiliate marketing, and it seems like you’ve visited just about every Disneyland available from the travels – and no doubt, your Back-to-the-Future paraphernalia has been increasing. So what a journey, hey? Over that last six years, quite a bit of change.
Pat: Definitely a lot of change and besides the Back-to-the-Future stuff being the most exciting thing for me. It’s definitely been just how I feel like I’ve grown up as a CEO now because back then I was feeling like I was a scrappy entrepreneur, I was taken advantage of some really cool things in the affiliate marketing world in a very genuine way. I was very proud of that. But now, like you said, I have live events, I have these books coming out. I’ve done online courses finally. And still being able to manage the family and be here for the kids too. And just very thankful for that. And also, I just want to give a quick shout out to you, James. You’ve been very instrumental in my most recent successes related to a lot of these things that I’ve just mentioned. As a result of, you know, you helped me out in your mentorship program.
Juggling business and family
James: Oh, well, it’s been my pleasure and actually a real privilege to see behind the scenes and to get to know the real Pat is something – I’m sure it will come up actually, because there’ll be a different layer, I suppose, from when someone becomes first aware of you, they might be listening to this podcast and never heard of you, which I highly doubt because seems like most people in my field, have heard of Pat Flynn before. And then there’s different layers, you know, and you mentioned, probably the most intimate and personal layer and probably a lot of the motivation for things you do is the family side of it. I wonder, how important do you think it is being a father and a husband as well as an entrepreneur when it comes to helping other people? I often ponder this, because when I still had a job, and I was making that leap from a job to having my own business online, I was reading great books by Tim Ferriss, 4-Hour Work Week, etc. But then it sort of struck me, I couldn’t fully relate to their situation because it seemed like, it wouldn’t be that hard actually, if you’re an Ivy League male in your 20s to exist, you know, very different constraints and balances. And I’m wondering, how have you been handling that and how relevant do you think it is having that sort of life experience to be able to help others?
Pat: Yeah, I mean, I think I actually have an advantage over some of those people that you mentioned, having kids, because it definitely helps me put into perspective what is most important in terms of where my time goes, right? I remember before I had kids, I was kind of doing a lot of things and not really super focused. And there’s this thing called the baby effect where when you have a kid, I’m not saying this is a strategy for everybody listening to get better at businesses is to just have kids. That’s not what I’m saying at all. But what I’m saying is there’s something that happens when you do have a kid that triggers your mind to go, well what is actually important to me? Because every time I say yes to something now, business wise, I’m also saying no to my kids. And that just puts things into perspective for me.
And I also think, for me, as a creator, as somebody who’s pretty well known online, having the family there, having my kids, especially now that they’re a little bit older, show up a little bit in the content here and there, especially on YouTube, it’s actually allowing me to connect with those people like yourself who are like, hey, this person, you know, has a family too. And we can relate on a lot of things.
And that sort of connection there is really important and something that I talk about in my book, Superfans, is that, you know, having those connections allows you to immediately have a sort of conversation piece and something that you can relate to, such that a person go, ‘Oh, that’s my person because they’re more like me.’ And I think that that’s given me a slight advantage. And it wasn’t something I purposefully did. It was something that I always talked about on my blog, but I soon realized that, you know, every time I told a story about my kids and how they related to my business or vice versa, like the time when my son was born, and we didn’t have insurance, and how we figured that out, and how the business actually helped to support that. It became something that people could really relate to, especially if they had a family, or if they were wanting to start a family. And that was actually a big thing that helped me stand out versus, you know, these other people, especially the ones who are more about like the Lamborghinis and the mansions and all that stuff. Like I was the person that they would gravitate to if I was in that area of their life, too. So, yeah, I think it’s definitely provided an advantage to me in some way. Although I do have moments here and there where I go, ‘Wow, if I didn’t have kids, I could probably do more of this traveling stuff, right? I’d have more wiggle room or be able to take bigger risks here and there,’ which is a really interesting thought.
“Leave grinding to the barista.”
James: Yeah, and there’s a whole generation of that, where they’re, you know, working 100 hours a week, and it’s easy to do that. They can literally sleep in their office so they can travel around. Having just had a newborn, I can definitely relate to the change between the travel and the not travel because I already grew my first batch of kids up, and then started again, which has been just absolutely fascinating from an experience point of view, but there’s no question. If I didn’t have the first batch of kids, I wouldn’t have developed my sales skills, I wouldn’t have risen through the ranks, to learn the things that I’ve learned. And then I had that phase where I could enjoy that little bit of time, whether you know, they’re old enough to look after themselves, or they even move out of home, which is probably becoming increasingly more difficult for kids to do these days. But I really love how you gave that context. And I know from just discussing things with you and watching your social media, you still build in family time and you’re still traveling with the family and enjoying life because, you know, like I’ve said to others, leave grinding to the barista. I think you’ve reached a point now where you don’t want to commit more than a certain amount to activities that might actually tip the balance away from you having a great life.
“Come in here and see what I’m doing”
Pat: Yeah, I mean, that’s absolutely right. But I also – part of this discussion is like, well, are they always mutually exclusive either work and family life? And to me, it’s not. It was when I was growing up. I mean, every time I would come home from school, I’d be alone until my parents came home from work around 6pm. So I literally didn’t see them until 6pm at night, every day, and to me, work was something that took my kids away from me.
“Are work and family life always mutually exclusive?”
And what I’m trying to do now that the kids are older is to actually have them, you know, get excited about being a part of the work with me. So my son and I are starting a podcast together, them coming into the office every once in a while, and I let them play with the knobs, and I let them adjust things. It’s never a, ‘No, don’t come in here. Daddy’s working.’ It’s like, ‘Hey, come in here and see what I’m doing.’ It’s cool because it’s, you know, for me, education, especially with kids is very important. Teaching them entrepreneurial skills is important, whether they become entrepreneurs or not, that’s not what’s important. What’s important is they know the skills of an entrepreneur, to be able to better prepare themselves for the rest of their life. Whatever they choose to do, they’re going to be great at it and be a great, great problem solver. Be a great communicator, be a great presenter on those things. And so, to bring them in and actually expose them to what I do, and to show them, which also helps me when I travel because they don’t go, ‘Oh, no, daddy’s gone. He’s traveling. I don’t know why.’ They go, ‘Oh, yeah, daddy’s going to go to this event about podcasting to teach people how to podcast, he’s going to be on stage telling them to do this. And hey, guess what, I know a little bit of podcasting, too, because he taught me.’ And so like, they feel more connected to it. And I think that’s what’s really cool.
And so, I have a big event. Like you said earlier, coming up this year called Fling Con where my family’s incorporated in it. It’s a family friendly event that I’m hosting for my community here in San Diego, 500 people, some of them bringing their kids along as well. And it’s going to be a really fun and cool opportunity for not just people to connect with each other and me to connect with my audience but also for my family to be involved. My wife is going to be on stage. My kids are going to be on stage, my son’s doing a little presentation in front of everybody. And again, just helping to develop their skills as entrepreneurs so that they’ll be better prepared for their lives as well.
James: Yeah, I think you’re really leading in this area. And I’m sure your future will be lots more focused around kids and education. And I know we’ve had discussions about that, something I’m passionate about too. None of my kids have grown up regular, that’s for sure. I remember when my daughter built a website in front of my audience at one of my events about nine years ago, and then she went on to publish a book. It was like well, if she can do it, then what excuse does the adult have? Even now, little baby Lucy’s spent quite a few mastermind calls, listening in, you know, sitting on my lap, she’s very involved in the business. She doesn’t really have a choice, which is good.
The superfans-money connection
You know, last time we talked about engagement, I observed how much engagement you have with your audience. That’s like phenomenal engagement, the amount of comments you get, the relationship you’ve built with your audience. And it’s no wonder you’ve actually turned that into the book, Superfans. Back then, it was an interesting discussion about where you just sort of cross that bridge between having fans and then making sales. And I think that was a growth phase where there was some challenge, and you clearly excelled past that phase, and you’ve rounded out your business offerings, and you’ve somehow managed to have people still be superfans and make lots and lots of sales. We don’t have to talk about specific numbers, etc. But suffice to say, you can generate millions of dollars a year and have a big audience. I wonder if you could discuss the relationship between superfans and monetization because I know that was a hotspot for you. And I wonder what’s evolved over the last six years.
Pat: Yeah, I mean, the biggest thing was a mindset shift and understanding that you can actually sell and serve at the same time. My ultimate goal was to always serve my audience. And I thought that the best way to serve them was to give them as much free information as possible. But I realized that, number one, that can be overwhelming and actually work against what your goals are in terms of serving because you’re just giving them so much. But on top of that, offering more premium things that, number one, allow them to invest in themselves. And number two, are more organized, more condensed, more strategic, more accountable, to help a person achieve their goals. I mean, that’s, you know, everybody wins in that situation, which is really amazing.
And when it comes to superfans, these are the people who already trust you, and who already know that whatever you come out with is worth investing their money into because they’ve invested their time with you as well. And that’s where you get people who, you know, when I come out with a new course, I mean, I’ll have hundreds of people who won’t even know what that course really is about. They’ll not even read the sales page, but they’ll buy it because they just learned over time that what I come out with is great for them. These are the people who, when I tweet that I’m going to be at a restaurant somewhere and I’d like to meet people, I mean, they’ll fly to be there, which is like, incredible. And they’ll just be there and take selfies and I’ll only talk to them for a few minutes, because that’s all we have, but that was worth it to them. And that just like blows my mind.
And when it comes to monetization, it’s those superfans who, they’re going to feel like it’s not even spending money at all, because they’re just doing something that they love. And it just happens to involve you and the moments that you’ve created for them over time and that’s what a superfan is. These aren’t people who have just found you. These are people who have had experiences and magical moments with you over time and they’re just kind of returning the favor. And it’s just like with a musician who we fall in love with and we want to spend money on their concert or their memorabilia. It’s a movie that you love. It’s not because you saw that movie once and all of a sudden, because you like it, immediately put down the movie and then you go and then you go buy the things. It’s because of not just the movie, but the discussions you had about that movie with other people who love the movie. It’s the community of fans that you had who all wear the Harry Potter outfits and wear the robes and you all have discussions about which house you’re from. It’s going to see the premiere and dressing up and being a part of this community. It’s the one time JK Rowling might, you know, retweet your tweet and then you just freak out because of it, right? It’s like these moments lead up to us wanting to spend more money because it makes us feel great.
And where this book Superfans comes from really is inspired by Kevin Kelly and his book 1000 True Fans. And I love that – I say he wrote 1000 True Fans back in, I think was 2006 or 2007 he published, it was right at the time I was starting entrepreneurship. And it was actually key for me to read that because it made me realize that I didn’t need to create a blockbuster hit. That’s what he says, you don’t have to create a blockbuster hit to create something successful. Because that’s what I always thought I wanted to create, like the next Rubik’s Cube or the next, you know, Uber or whatever. Uber wasn’t around then. But you know, when you ask people like, oh, you’re going to create a business, what do you want to create? And they go, huge. The truth is, in order to create a successful life, you don’t have to have a blockbuster hit. You don’t need millions of fans, you don’t need millions of followers. You just need 1000 true fans. Because if you do the math, and if you consider that a true fan is going to spend at a minimum $100 a year for your craft, your art, your love, your work,your coaching, whatever it is, I mean, that’s on the low end, that’s less than $10 a month, right? And I spend over $15,000 on Back-to-the-Future stuff, but that’s a different conversation.
James: Let’s not go there, or surfboards.
Pat: Yeah, right? $100 a year times 1000 true fans that’s six-figure business already.
James: Yeah, as you’re saying that, I’m just thinking, I have a great business with 36 clients in one program. That can be a million-dollar business.
Pat: Absolutely. Did you hear that story about that Instagrammer who had like two million followers, and she tried to sell a T-shirt, and she only sold like 26 of them? And she was like, she was very open about it, but she was like, ‘Hey, guys, what am I doing wrong? I have two million followers, but I only sold 26 t-shirts.’ Did you hear about that?
One platform, or multiple?
James: I did hear about that. I’ve also seen other articles where Instagram has lost their account and they’re setting up GoFundMe things because their life was devastated because their entire life was wiped out. And I often talk about this concept of OwnTheRacecourse or not being single-source dependent, but you’re sort of broaching on one of my questions. Are we doing this on one platform or on multiple?
Pat: It’s platform-agnostic. That’s the thing.
Pat: Wherever your people are, you will create these moments for them such that they won’t care where you are. Your Instagram account could go away and you can lose everything. They’re still going to find you. They’re going to make sure of it because you’ve become a part of their life. Maybe you only have 26 followers, but guess what, you could probably sell 52 shirts because they’re going to buy one for themselves and buy one for their friend, you know.
James: So they will find you if you changed platforms or you get stronger and another platform if they’re really a keen fan. I think I remember Gary V switched from one video platform. He made a play that he, in hindsight, thought was probably not the ideal play. I think he was on Vimeo or Viddler, one of those.
Pat: I think it was Viddler, yeah.
James: Viddler, yeah, and then he switched. So you know, he’s probably an early example of someone who’s built a strong following. But certainly, in corporate world, you’d have to look at companies like Disney as being pretty strong in this area. And movies especially have created the fans. How many of the same elements have you taken across? Is it just coincidence that you are a Disney nut?
Pat: Maybe so, but no. I think I’m a Disney nut because of the magical moments that they’ve created for me over time. It just continues to add more and more and more, especially now that the kids are involved. I may have been more of a fan because I see how much the Disney-like experience increases their happiness, right? And I care so much about my kids. But it’s not just movies. It’s not just big companies like this. It’s not just musicians and artists and actors and actresses that we can be a fan of. We can be a fan of all kinds of things. And it makes me remember the first time I experienced a fan of me, it was actually before Smart Passive Income was a thing.
Pat Flynn’s first fan
So my first online business, as you might remember in the last podcast episode we did together, was about helping people pass an architectural exam. It’s called The Lead Exam, my first online business after I got laid off, and it was my first go with it. And it had done really well. I had created the study guide to help people pass this exam. And it took off. I was spending hours a day on the website, on the forums, building my name, and it was working.
And I remember one day I got an email from a customer. Her name was Jackie. And she sent me this email and she was just talking about how she had spent over a year trying to study through this exam. It was just a big pain in her butt. And eventually, she found my guide and the next time she took the test, she passed it with flying colors, and she was just so thankful about that, that she, you know, was like, ‘Hey, I want to take you and your family out to dinner. You’ve got me a raise and a promotion. Like I just so owe much to you,’ which was really cool to get that feedback. And then at the end of the email, she said, “Pat, I am a big fan.” And I was like, you’re a big fan? I just helped you pass an exam, like this doesn’t make any sense to me. But here’s the thing that happened. Like fast forward two months later, I look in my customer list and I see there was like 30 new customers. It all came in within a short period of time, that had the same email address that she did at the end of her email. And what I had found out was that she had gone and convinced her boss and everybody else in the office to buy my guide too. She could have just easily like, just sent it to everybody via email. It was just a PDF file, or printed it out and gave copies to everybody for free. But no, she made sure that everybody in the office was going to pass this exam and use my guide to do it.
And so that one person, Jackie, was able to then bring 30 new customers in, just like that without me even asking. That’s the cool thing when you help people out and you, number one, understand what their problems are and are able to solve those problems, which is like one of the first steps in building a fan, like that’s usually our end game, right, is to have a person buy something from us so that we can solve their problems, or, you know, help them find us and read our article so that they can solve a problem. That’s usually people’s endgame. Now that’s the start of it. But imagine just having 10 Jackies who follow you, who then bring new people in. I mean, so many amazing things happen.
And so, I mean, this person was a fan of me because I helped her pass an exam. And I have fans now when I go to conferences who are fan because they listened to my podcast, and, you know, they feel like they’re part of a community now, they’re a part of Team Flynn, which is just incredible. I mean, I had no idea that I would ever create something like this, but it’s become the backbone of my business is become the insurance policy. In my business, I remember in 2013, my website was hacked, and I lost all communication with my audience, except for social media. But then the number one thing I saw was people going, ‘Pat, your website’s down, how can I help you?’ ‘Where are you going to be at?’ Like, ‘Are you going to start a new site somewhere? Let me know if you do, I’ll be there. I’ll be there to support you.’ You know, all that stuff. So it just made me realize that, hey, even if my site doesn’t get back up, I’m going to be okay, because I built these fans and that’s what’s amazing.
James: Yeah, that’s very powerful. Good on Jackie as well.
Pat: Yeah, right?
James: The concept of helping people solve their problem before they even buy is a great concept. I’ve experienced a tremendous flow on effect from releasing videos each day for the last year with just a single tip, and a lot of people are now communicating with me saying that they’re helpful, but I think a podcast is a good example. And I think it was a strong foundation for you too, where you can help people like having this discussion now, if someone listens to this for free and gets a great idea, but certainly lead them to consider purchasing Superfans, which you can do, by the way, at yoursuperfans.com. That’s Pat’s website.
Pat: Thank you.
What the ordinary person can do
James: No affiliate link there. I just want to promote it because, I mean, Pat, you’re just a boss at this. Like, I really wanted to explore further how you can do it. What if we don’t have a golden voice like Pat Flynn, and we’re not as handsome or pogi? And we don’t spend as much time mastering our craft. What are some of the steps that an everyday, ordinary person could do? Someone like me, right? I would classify myself as, you know, I’ve got a book, I’ve got a podcast, got some videos, got the memberships, but I think compared to my peer group, I definitely have a much smaller following. And for some reason, I just haven’t found yet the formula. I never went out and hired someone to get me my first 10,000 Instagram fans, which seems a common trap and I’d wonder what you think about that because I’m sure you haven’t had to rely upon that technique, but it seems extremely common in our peer group.
Pat: Yeah, I mean, it is, but like okay, so you pay for fans like, is that how you actually want to earn these fans? Why are they actually coming to you? Are they going to be worth that money over time? Because a true fan will have found you and will stick with you because of what you’ve offered them, not because you paid them. And the truth is like, yes, there are ways to pay for getting exposure. And that’s fine. That’s important, right? Search Engine Optimization paying somebody to help you with SEO, paying for advertisements to have people come on board and find you. That’s important. But the problem is, that’s what all of people are focusing on.
James: Yes, it’s very common, isn’t it?
Pat: It is.
James: It’s very common. Like they can literally spend millions of dollars a year building their audience with ads, and I know some of them bid on cheaper countries, right?, to just get paid followers and stuff, but I think they do it as a conversion technique. But as you and I have experienced, you can get a significant return on investment, even with a small group of buyers if you have the right buyers. So I guess what I’m saying is, it’s a bit of noise, isn’t it? Excessive volume for the sake of volume is just noise.
Pat: It’s totally noise. And when you want to, like, think about in any business where most of the activity is, where are most of the customers coming from? Where’s mostly the engagement coming from? Where are most of the sharing, where’s that happening? That’s happening with the people who are already there, who have been a part of it for a while, who understand the value that you have to offer and they are willing and able to bring new people in. Those are your fans, your superfans at the very, very top who will go above and beyond, who will buy every product, who are those repeat customers, that’s where all that is happening. Yet we’re all focused on growing the business and expanding it from the ground and not focusing on those experiences that we give the people who are already there. So okay, you might spend all this money to get new people in but guess what, they’re going to have the same experience that they’re going to get anywhere else, because you’re not focused on bringing those magical moments into that brand of yours.
And so it really starts with, okay, well, let’s start at the beginning. When people find you for the first time, there are some things you can do to activate them because the next stage is when they’re active subscribers, they’re followers, they know who you are. But when a person finds you for the first time, they don’t. And so there’s some very specific things that you can do. And I talk about that in this book. This book is literally a how-to for Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans, that’s really what this is.
Have the right lyrics
But the first things that you can do are number one, make sure that you have the right lyrics on your website or wherever it is that you have your messaging, you want to have the right lyrics, meaning the words that your audience will respond to. Any good musician will know that they need to use the same words that the audience that they are singing to, will resonate with. And this takes me back to my wife actually, who’s a big fan of the Backstreet Boys and she was telling me about the first time she remembers listening to their song. It was a very specific moment in her life. She had just broken up with her boyfriend, and was very sad. And on the radio was a song called Quit Playing Games With My Heart by the Backstreet Boys, and she had heard it before she said, but she never listened to it until now because every single word in that song was describing everything she was going through in that very moment. And it was because of that, that she was activated, that she then went, ‘Oh, I need to get their album. Oh, now I want to go to their concert. Oh, now I want to go to the VIP. Oh, I’m just going to think about them all day and have them in my binder and bug everybody else about it.. I was an NSYNC fan. So we have a little battle there every once in a while. But anyway, it started with getting the lyrics right.
“Make sure you’re using the right language.”
So that’s one thing you can do, is make sure you’re using the right language. I think was Jay Abraham who said, if you can define the problem better than your target customer, they will automatically assume you have the solution. So I think we all know that we need to know what the problems are of our audience. But do we pay attention to the language that they’re using on top of that? That’s key. That alone can just have people go, ‘Oh, I’m in the right spot. You’re speaking my language.’ I mean, that’s literally what they might say.
The small, quick win
Another thing you can do is offer a small quick win. I remember I was huge into personal finance blogs back when I was in architecture, like I read every single one. And there was one in particular called, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, that I was kind of not so keen on because of the name and I was like, ah, I don’t know. This for me kind of sounds like kind of, I don’t know, shady a little bit, but I’m going to read these other ones because, you know, get rich slowly.org, simpledollar.com, all these other ones. But then I remember coming across one of Ramit’s articles that said, I can’t remember the exact title, but it was something like, Call Your Cable Company and Save 20 Percent on Your Bill Reading This Script. I was like, Oh, okay, interesting. I think I have like 15 minutes that I could devote to this and it was lunchtime at work. So I call my cable company, I read the script that was in his blog post. And I was able to save 25 percent off my cable bill, like right then in that instant. And I was just like, whoa, and I’m calculating in my head. I’m like, wow, after like 20 years I’ve just saved like $100,000 like Ramit, amazing. Like, I just dove into all of his stuff after that. That was the trigger moment for me in him in his stuff. And you compare that instant win to all these other personal finance blogs that were like, save $25 a month and then by the time you’re 65, you can then retire happy. That’s not a quick win.
James: And skip your avocados and no coffee.
Pat: Yes, exactly, right?
James: Any financial strategy that involves cutting out coffee, I’m not interested in.
Pat: Yeah, same. Absolutely with you on that. But as you can see, you can compare the two like, which one is helping me right now? Ramit’s, right? And then of course, you know, I’m in. And so a big thing that you can do in your brand or business is although you might want to change their lives, think about how you might want to change their day first, what’s a small quick win that you can offer them within 10 minutes after visiting you or finding you for the first time so that they’ll go, wow, okay, I need to come back. And there’s been a lot of research and books about habit building that talk a lot about the small quick wins and there’s one called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, there’s a whole chapter on the small quick wins and to provide that to your audience is a huge thing. Now that they’re triggered, and I’m just kind of breezing through the pathway here and the book really quick…
James: This is what I want, the framework, deliver the how to because, you know, I’m genuinely keen to apply this.
Get people involved
Pat: So after they’re activated, they’re a subscriber, they know who you are, but they’re not yet like, feeling like they’re a part of the team, right? And the example I use is when I was in school, I was one of the shortest kids in school, right? So I had a lot of friends who played basketball, unfortunately. And although they were friends, and they invited me to play, I never really felt like I was on the team because they never passed me the ball. They never got me involved. I never shot the ball. Even though I was on the court, I never really felt like I was playing.
And so how many businesses like, make you feel like you’re on the court, but then you never get involved? You never feel like you have a say. You don’t feel like you belong there. And so people, just, we have this need to want to feel like we belong to something. And as brands, when you want to bring people in and make them feel like they belong, guess what? When you get them involved, they’re going to start to invest. And so getting them involved is key. And there’s many ways that you can do that. On the micro level from just simply giving them a platform to talk and speak to the macro level of creating community events and live events and gigs and meetups for them to meet each other. Give your community a name so that they’ll feel like they’re a part of something just like how people who are fans of Star Trek are called Trekkies. People who are fans of Beyonce are called, you know, her beehive, or, you know, my community and they’re known as Team Flynn.
“When they’re involved, they’re more invested.”
So giving them something that make you feel like they’re a part of such that it’s not just you talking to them and them talking to you anymore. It’s them talking to each other and feeling that identity. Featuring your community members is another great thing to have people feel like they’re a part of something because they go, ‘Oh my gosh, that person’s just like me and look at the great things they’re doing. How can I get more involved?’ Again, when they’re involved, they’re more invested. And then from there, bringing them from the community into superfan status, first of all that’s going to happen naturally with some people who are there.
The digital high-five
But, one thing that you could do is just to create an unexpected moment of surprise and one of the simplest things that we can all do to create that unexpected moment of surprise, especially for your clients or customers, if you have any of those already who are in your brand, go on to Instagram. Get in a direct message with them. Shoot them a quick video, 15 seconds. ‘Hey, James, Pat here, just was thinking about you, I hope all is well. And just want to say I appreciate you being a customer. Just let me know if you need anything. Bye.’ Okay, that was like eight seconds. To them, it’s like, you’ve just stopped the world for them. Because you’ve just paid attention to them and a little bit of time and have done something that was unexpected. It’s literally going to blow their minds. You’re going to get a response back in most times that are just like, wow, oh my gosh, this is how I know I’m in the right place, or, wow. Now I know my money was spent in the right place or, well, I can’t believe you took the time to do that. Yes, it only took eight seconds. But to them, you gave them a little bit of attention. And that’s huge. Like those little moments are like the moment when somebody is at a concert in the front row and the artists or the musician reaches down and like high fives the guy, right? Like that moment right there was a life-changing moment for them, even though it was small, they can now say like, ‘Oh my gosh, you know, Usher gave me a high five at a concert,’ and they’re going to share that with everybody. They’re going to do the same thing with this little reach-out of yours, too. It’s just done virtually. And it’s so easy to do. We have the tools to do this right now. But no, we’re so focused on what’s the next keyword that we’re going to target? Or, what’s our next ad campaign going to be? When we really should be devoting a lot of time into these little special moments for our brand?
James: Yeah, that’s such a great tip. I like using videos. They’re good. Some people do this particularly well. How do you do that at scale or doesn’t scale because you’ve got so many fans, what are some of the tipping points where you realize, hang on, I could try and do this for the rest of my life and still not reach everyone?
Pat: Yeah, it’s definitely not scalable to do it on a one-on-one like that, but what I would still do, and this is something I do, is to put an hour’s time within a week, maybe even a half hour, and just devote that time to doing these kinds of things. And that’s really all it would need because you never know, that one person you send a video to could be the next Jackie, you know, who could convert 30 more people for you, 100 more people, you never know. But by doing this, you’re going to get, first of all, just good vibes. It’s a good thing to offer your community and like I said, you never know those opportunities.
Scaling your reach
Now there are ways to scale this, right? There are live video platforms. We have resources on our podcast, blog, etc. too. I mean, even on your podcast right now, James, like why not invite one of your success stories on to talk about their experience with the before and the after and then how they’ve been able to change and of course, naturally your stuff is going to pop up. And that not only is a testimonial to what you do, but it is also something that everybody else in the community can relate to and somebody who is there can go, ‘Wow, James is cool. He’s like listening and allowing people like us to come on his podcast and share too. That’s great. And there might be somebody who’s just starting out who might go, ‘Wow, like, that person is just a little bit ahead of me. They’ve been involved with James for six months. I’m just getting started. Now I have some goals. And now I feel great. And now I know another member of the community.’ Featuring your community members is a great way to scale the sort of community building and superfan like aspects and that individual reach out to that one person can be made public, in that sort of sense.
James: Yeah, that’s been a huge winner for me. And I actually love featuring clients and hearing their story, because it’s great for me because I’ve seen the whole background and my challenge is to tell the story properly to help get out to the public what I’ve seen privately. So episode after episode, are my own clients mixed in with experts from outside on skills and topics that are interesting for my audience. Reviewing back the history of podcasting, I’ve been doing this now for 10 years, you certainly go through cycles, but I can say categorically, the single bestselling type of podcast is any kind of case study with an actual client. They are demonstrative, and they highlight your skill and your ability, and it doesn’t hurt to have a good product. I think that’s certainly been my finding. And even though my business is at a small scale, in terms of numbers of emails and fans, it’s still a great business, because I’m focused more on the post-sale side of things than the pre-sale side of things.
The dark side of having fans
James: So when it comes to downsides, are there any negatives? Have you experienced difficulties with people knowing too much about you or ever felt uncomfortable?
Pat: Yeah, this is a great question. It’s actually a chapter in the book called The Dark Side of Building Superfans. And there’s a lot of dark sides to it. And I just use this chapter as sort of a warning for things to look out for on both your side and the side of others who will become fans of yours. On one hand, for example, you know, one dark side of a building superfans is you’re going to gain a ton of more momentum, and you’re going to get this fame and people are just like loving on you and it becomes something that can get to people’s heads sometimes and I’ve seen it happen from some of my colleagues who have built fans and they’ve gotten famous, they’ve gotten money and then they’ve changed, and then they lost all their fans, because they became somebody who is different than what they became a fan for.
James: And they lose their peers too. And I’ve seen quite a few people get a little bit out of control with their ego and they become less appealing to hang out with, right?
Pat: Yeah, yeah. The ego is a real thing and so to keep that in check is very important as you grow and to always sort of remind yourself like, where you came from and why you’re doing what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for. And I think that’s really important.
On the other side, however, there are crazy people in this world, right? And we see this mostly with superstars, like actors, actresses, musicians, where, you know, Taylor Swift will have a stalker who’s like parked outside her house and has to be arrested and stuff like that. And that’s really scary. But those people exist, and we have to protect ourselves, right? So this part of the book I just talk about, you know, hey, be wary, especially online when you post on Instagram or on Twitter, like your location or where you’re going to be, just some tips for you related to that.
I mean, back in the day, I made some mistakes even and luckily, I’ve never gotten into any big trouble or any crazy moments like that. But there was a feature on Instagram that since been taken away for example, that when you posted a picture, it would automatically also share the location of where that picture was taken that anybody in the public could access. And so when I was sharing pictures inside my house, I was also sharing where my house was. And that’s kind of freaky, right? And so they disabled that, thankfully. And the cool part about this was it was actually a superfan who brought this to my attention, who wanted to make sure I was safe. So it was actually a superfan who came to my defense, which is really cool. It’s not possible on Instagram anymore. But on Twitter, you can have geolocation open on other newer platforms that might come out. It’s just something to be wary about and be conscious about.
Again, this is more education stuff, making sure that you don’t take pictures or do video in areas where like your house address can be seen or like license plates and things like that. Although license plates, yes, you can’t really search up a license plate anymore, but you never know. And just, you know, remaining safe in that sort of way. And then also like if something were to happen, how might you sort of get help for that? And it is something that luckily, I haven’t experienced yet, knock on wood. But I know some other people who have had their fair share of like, crazies, and, you know, it’s just something to look out for.
James: Yeah, probably one in 100 people are a little bit crazy and don’t know a normal sort of behavioral limit. I’ve been quite surprised sometimes when I’ve met people in my community, and they know exactly what building I lived in, because they’d seen a walk-around video that some social media person put on. So after that, I was like, hey, if you’re going to film here, just please don’t put any recognizable features. It’s good to have a little bit of privacy for safety.
And then there’s other things, like the timing of when you’re posting things. You have people know you’re away or where you’re going to be. Try and keep yourself safe. So if you’re going to build up the fans, I also remember watching something that was talking about the Beatles, how they built up their fan base. Their producer or someone in their party was hiring actors to run around screaming, until it actually became a thing. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s a great story.
Pat: Yeah, I mean, I think that, yeah, that is interesting. I think I heard about a service here in San Diego where you can actually hire a paparazzi to follow you all day to make you feel like you’re a fan.
James: I’m so not surprised that that’s a service. Opportunity everywhere. Maybe someone needs to run that through the will-it-fly filters and see if they can set one of those up too. With social media, I mean, that’s effectively what, buying those 10,000 fans is, isn’t it? It’s hiring a paparazzi and seeing if it’ll take fire. Not the technique I’ll be using, but it certainly shows you how some of it can be engineered. But I think what you’re saying is you can engineer superfans by having good, wholesome values and methods that are sincere and not just fully contrived.
Summing things up
And that’s the story, I think in this particular episode. If you’re making good stuff, if you’ve got people who recognize it and you foster that using some of the techniques from your book Superfans, then you’re going to increase your enjoyment from the business, the purchases will obviously flow, the lifetime value of clients increases. I certainly get a kick out of looking around the room at my own live events. And I see people who have been to every one of them for a decade and I think wow, that’s just love, isn’t it?
James: There’s no other real definition for it. By the time you get down to it, they just love what you’re doing and want to be a part of it. And I almost feel like me under-marketing some of my things a little bit gets me the absolute best clients. When I’m on that boat in the Maldives, and I have my 10 best clients who want to be stuck on a boat with me for a week, I think this is great. It’s deep. And it’s a strong feeling. And it goes way beyond that superficial surface level of having a big number of followers or whatever.
“It’s engineering, but it’s done sincerely.”
Pat: Totally. I think it just is about, you know, reflecting on, well, where are you spending most of your time? Are you trying to get more people into your brand? Or have you focused any time at all on what happens when people are there and just taking a purposeful stance on that and creating, like I said, those moments purposefully. Like you said, it’s engineering, but it’s done sincerely. And with a little bit of focus, you know, that lifetime value goes up and all those moments happen in your brand like you just described, I think it’s where businesses need to go. It’s an insurance policy in my eyes as well for your future.
James: Well, Pat Flynn, thank you so much for generously sharing this and I wish you huge success. Maybe you’ll get one of those New York Times bestsellers or what are the other ones?
Pat: I don’t know, we’ll see. I mean, that would be a cool byproduct of writing this book. My last book, Will It Fly, became a Wall Street Journal bestseller as a self-published book. And this one is also self-published. And one would think that it would do just as well, if not better, but you know, who knows, maybe ten amazing others will come out in the same week, and there’ll be no chance, but it doesn’t really matter.
James: Well, the market will decide, but it’s definitely going on my bookshelf. It’s kind of full, but I’ll make some space for it. And thank you so much for sharing and hopefully, we’ll get you back a little bit earlier than the next six years to give us an update on how things are going, because you’re doing big things and it’s tremendous watching that journey as a peer and someone who gets to see behind the scenes in that privileged situation. I’m really a fan of what you’re doing and keep it up.
Pat: Thanks, James. If I am on again and we’re past episode 1000, I’ll be sad.
James: All right, we’ll make it happen.
Pat: Thanks, James.
James: Thank you.
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