Peter Shankman’s Principles on Creating Zombie Loyalist Customers

<img src="image.gif" alt="Image of Pete Shankman" />Peter Shankman wants entrepreneurs to create a horde of zombie customers.

(I’m tempted to leave this blog with only this sentence, but I won’t.)

At last month’s #ICON14 conference in Phoenix, I heard Mr. Shankman wax poetic about what it takes to make loyalist customers.

If those late-night viewings of Night of the Living Dead have taught me anything, it’s that zombies are a loyal and dedicated brood. Our undead friends form herds for the common purpose of chowing down on some kidneys.

That’s the kind of customer mentality entrepreneurs would do well to create. Minus the cannibalism, of course.

When Peter Shankman says “Zombie Loyalists,” he means that one customer will become a herd if you do one thing…

Create amazing customer service.

If that’s not the most no-duh statement of the century, I don’t know what is. But at #ICON14, Shankman pointed out four surprising ways to go a thousand steps beyond the call of duty.

With injections of humor spliced with no-nonsense advice, I wanted to stand up on the table and yell “YES!” Not just because Shankman used zombies as a great metaphor for how we all should do our work, but because of his third nugget of loyalist customer wisdom.

That third pillar meant a lot to my Sūmèr coworkers and me, and once you learn what it is, you’ll understand why.

Zombie Loyalist Customer Rule #1: Be Transparent

You’re going to screw up. Even if you’re the most meticulous expert in your field, you’re going to screw up.

I’ve made colossal mistakes.

You’ve made a few slipups.

Both of our moms have made mistakes.

Ditto Mother Theresa and Gandhi.

It’s simple human nature to take a misstep every now and again. The thing is that our flubs aren’t really the problem when it comes to creating loyalist customers.

The problem: we don’t admit it.

This rule goes one step beyond honesty. To provide unparalleled service, you’ve got to be wholly transparent. In other words, you’ve got to own up to your screwups with specificity.

No finger pointing. Just responsibility.

This sales page missed the mark because I got the target market all wrong. In doing so, the emotional connection is misplaced. Now that I have a clear picture of whom this product is really intended for, I’ll make the proper adjustments.

See, that wasn’t so difficult.

Zombie Loyalist Customer Rule #2:Relevance

If it doesn’t matter, cut it out.

Especially when it comes to professional copywriting, keywords, backlinks, and all the other SEO mumbo jumbo amount to doodley-squat if the content doesn’t speak to the desires of your market.

In fact, relevance goes past the copywriting realm. According to Shankman, entrepreneurs must have a crystal-clear understanding of their market’s needs. When you give customers what they want when they want it, that’s when the all-important conversion rate skyrockets.

As a copywriter, relevance is the principle that I keep at the front of my mind. If what I write has nothing to do with what’s happening in the audience’s lives, I hit the backspace button.

Zombie Loyalist Customer Rule #3:Brevity (or Learn to Write)

At this point in Shankman’s talk, I sent a text out to my team about how #ICON14 attendees were about to flood our sponsor booth.

Shankman uttered three words that made me want to turn summersaults in the aisles of the auditorium:

Learn to Write

Shankman made this declaration not for an obvious reason. He didn’t mean that we all had to mind our grammar rules, spell correctly, and create free-flowing sentences.

Learning to write means creating a message that makes a quick and decisive impact.

Here’s some proof for you: back in the 1980s, the average attention span stretched three minutes. Today, in a world where our iPhones remain cemented to our palms, the average attention span clocks in at 2.7 seconds.

Not ironically, that’s the amount of time it takes to read a 140-character Tweet. Oddly enough, the Twitter people weren’t the first to capitalize on this fact. It was the mobile text pioneers.

Because squirrels and shiny trinkets distract us from meaningful conversations, copywriters have to adapt. When you learn to write powerfully, when you come immediately with a Clubber Lang messaging punch, you stand on rock-solid ground in the content marketing world.

Zombie Loyalist Customer Rule #4:Top of Mind

For this one, Shankman started with a social media prediction. This prediction jarred me because it was equal parts scary and believable. According to Shankman’s crystal ball, Facebook and Twitter will become self-aware.

As visions of Skynet danced in my head, I listened about how our gadgets will sync with the people we talk with most. By “talk with,” I mean the conversations we have in the real, three-dimensional world (the one with all the trees and oxygen).

Here’s a good example of how this will work: you start dating someone. You meet on any given Internet dating site, start emailing, and eventually you go out for coffee. One coffee date leads to a movie, then an art museum. A couple of months later, you two head off to Barbados for an island vacation.

Measuring how much time you spend together, social media platforms will connect you whether or not you’ve clicked the Add Friend button.

The relationship is going swimmingly until…well…you break up. As days turn into months, you become disconnected without removing your ex from your friends list.

This social media prediction might just manifest itself. Who knows? But the point is this: entrepreneurs have got to remain at the top of people’s minds to create loyalist customers.

Once you get connected, it’s important to stay connected. After you deliver a product or service, why not pick up the phone to ask how everything is going? I’m not talking about an upsell here. I’m talking about a follow-through.

That’s what keeps entrepreneurs and their customers bound together. And that’s what we so often forget to do. See Rule #1.

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