How to Create the Happiest Clients and Stakeholders on Earth

| Written by: Karen Y. Kirksey

Sarah Robinson is a highly regarded speaker, author, entrepreneur and consultant. She talked to attendees at the FPRA-Capital Chapter’s February 19 meeting about “How to Create the Happiest Clients and Stakeholders on Earth.”

Based in Birmingham, Ala., Robinson is the CEO and Chief Strategist at Fierce Loyalty. She wrote the Amazon best-selling book Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities, and she’s a regular guest expert at MSNBC.

“Fierce loyalty is my life’s work,” Robinson said. “It’s the thing I’m most passionate about.” In less than one hour’s time, she presented a model “for how you can create the same kind of fiercely loyal community for your company and clients.”

Robinson pointed to a University of Michigan study that found that consumers who are actively engaged in a brand community spend 19% more than consumers who aren’t.

Using Harley-Davidson, Apple, Starbucks and a few other big names as examples, Robinson talked about the secrets to their success. Harley-Davidson isn’t just marketing motorcycles, it’s promoting personal freedom. They have stores dedicated to selling jackets, scarves, shirts, wallets and all kinds of Harley paraphernalia.

Robinson said her now 12-year-old son started building his own fiercely loyal community when he was nine. He has raised thousands of dollars since that time to buy shoes, clothes and toys for kids at an orphanage in Russia. “If he can build a community, anybody can build a community — if you really want to.”

Case in point: “Look at what sports teams do,” she said, “especially sports teams that never win. Their community is even tighter. It’s not about the game. It’s about the experience.”

The first question Robinson asks her clients: “Why do you want a community?” Typical answers: “The boss told me to…; it’s trendy; the competition has one.”

“What do you want to achieve?” Building a Fiercely Loyal Community is hard work—it’s time consuming and it takes resources.

Return on Investment (ROI) of a Fiercely Loyal Community:

  1. Will create Empowered Evangelists (like the Harley-Davidson crowd)
  2. A Grassroots Research & Development Team (“I take my idea to them and ask, ‘What do you think?’ What they bring back is so much better than what I can do on my own – get the perspective from your people before you roll something out.”)
  3. A Hungry Client Base (“created by a Fiercely Loyal Community”)
  4. Reduced Client Attrition (“people don’t want to leave…they want to stay”)
  5. Happier Clients (“bring out my best – I want to give them my best”)

     “That adds up to the 19% that happy, engaged clients are spending!”

All communities are framed by a common interest — figure out what it is. The best way to find it out is face-to-face research – have a conversation.

3 Specific Needs:

  • Belonging- we want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves
  • Recognition- we want to be valued – we need to have our voices seen and heard
  • Safety- we want to know that we’re safe to express ourselves and be who we are

3 Non-negotiables for a successful community:

  • Connection- want to be able to talk to one another (Harley groups, Apple groups)
  • Support- give to other people and get support from brand – Zappos delivers happiness
  • Predictability- got to create it – the rules are clear with a well-run community

“Advance what you’re out to cultivate if you want to move a community from just a community to a Fiercely Loyal Community.”

What are the Hallmarks of a Fiercely Loyal Community?

  • Pride-they can’t wait to tell you that they’re a part of that community
  • Trust- they not only trust the brand but they trust the members of the brand community
  • Passion-how they identify themselves in the world


Fierce Loyalty Accelerators:

“Sexy, fun things that you want to run out and do – won’t work if you don’t work on the model – looks good, but the experience is not there.”

  1. Make members feel valued and important
  2. Create something together (you can crowd source)
  3. Fight a common enemy
  4. Create a culture of We
  5. Empower members to make the community their own (“at the end of the day, if the brand owns it, it won’t be fiercely loyal”)
  6. Build in Exclusivity
  7. Establish community ambassadors
  8. Stand for something bold
  9. Build an organizational structure
  10. Initiate opportunities for shared experiences
  11. Love your community! (“Like a relationship, learn about them. You have to love them first and longer before they love you. Ask, ‘What’s going to make you feel loved?’”

The FPRA-Capital Chapter’s new monthly meeting location, The Capital City Country Club, is a great place to network with colleagues and do lunch over interesting topics. Thank-you to all who attended the Feb. 19 luncheon and special thanks to our sponsors: TREW Media Inc., Taproot Creative, Graphateria and Sachs Media Group!