We all strive to understand our best customers, and everyone has different ways to make it happen.  If we can define our best customers, we can find more people like them.  It improves our marketing, our message, and our promotions.  We can quantify exactly who they are and profile demographics, zip clusters, and preferences.  I can go on and on, but you already know this. 

What if I told you that your best customers may not be who you think they are?  What if those with the highest sales, the most transactions, and the largest lifetime value may not always be the answer? 

Like anything else, not everything is as it seems: even among a set of customers that seem like they have the same high value metrics.  There is a subtle difference that can accelerate your business.

Here’s a thought:  find the loud ones. 

Some of them are talkers. They have a lot of interests, and a lot of friends, too.  They are connectors.  They voice their opinion on everything. If they hear someone asking about a need, they are quick to give a recommendation. They are loud, engaged, and tell it like it is.  They are trusted because they don’t sugarcoat things. 

They are your best customers, but they are different. Everyone in your “best customer” group may have a high NPS, but there is a subset that LOVES to talk about it.  They act on their passion.  They don’t hesitate to recommend, to complain, to engage, to tell stories.  These are your “raving fans”.

There are ways to identify these people by triangulating actions like engagement, asking for comments or events.  Don’t worry so much if they are negative.  They wouldn’t respond if they didn’t care.   What makes them so powerful is their honesty.  Their friends and family recognize it. 

You can also find ways to empower them.  The key here is to be authentic and organic. For example, if there is a community of fans on Facebook, don’t just barge in and take it over.  Nothing will turn them off more than that.  Once their referral is deemed staged or rewarded, they lose their superpower to family and friends.  Credibility is key. 

As your budget gets tighter, it will become more and more important to fuel the passion of your raving fans not just your best customers.  You can do it with honestly, transparency, and not based on a bounty or a special price.  If you do it right, it’s free fuel for your brand.  There is no advertising dollar more effective than a personal, organic recommendation from a trusted friend.  

I founded The Zest Lab to help brands and retailers build success from their most passionate “best” customers.   At a time when every marketer is trying to break through the clutter on a phone or screen, you can create a strategic advantage in a very authentic (and inexpensive) way.