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Last week I was directed to a blog post about the power of having fans of your brand. Teddy Anderson, the author, and I had just met and he mentioned the post and that he’d referenced Brand Thunder in it. How could I not read it?

Some valid points are made about the difference between fans and customers, and why the power is in getting more fans. He even lists resources to help with this. In the brief post, the emphasis is on illustrating why customers are not the goal, but fans are. The point that is alluded to, but not detailed, is that the two are not mutually exclusive.

You should approach your customer development like a baseball farm system. You’ve got your prospecting and recruiting to get new players into the minor leagues, then you move them from single A up to triple A until you can land them in the majors. Not everyone is going to make the jump to the next level, but doesn’t mean they don’t serve a purpose at the level they attain. Think of your customer acquisition in the same light. Once you’ve made a sale or acquired a new customer, are you done? Not likely. You’re just at the next stage of a growing relationship. It started when the first connection was made with a prospect, it’s grown into a customer relationship and they may yet evolve into fans. They won’t all become fans, but at least the growth potential is there at every stage.

The tools available to companies to encourage that ongoing relationship are plentiful, and that’s the strength of the Internet. As I’ve said in this space before, communication is a key element to building that relationship. And it’s not just open communication, it’s early. You need these customers to feel they’ve got the inside track if they’re ever to move from feeling like a client to feeling like they’re valued.

Yes, Brand Thunder’s browser themes do this, and part of why we’re including the “interactive” moniker with them. This communication potential is also the compelling nature behind Facebook and Twitter, and the fans and followers of brands. Information is powerful, and to give it freely, openly and early (as in making your fans the first to know when news is happening) stands to create a powerful connection.

So, I agree that if you’re only focused on getting customers, you’re missing the boat. You need to look at the entire customer relation process to make sure the methods are in place to make sure the relationship can grow.

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