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The news was startling. Hostess was liquidating. No more Twinkies, no more Ding Dongs, no more Hostess cupcakes or pies. Suddenly, out of the woodwork, Hostess fans emerged and expressed their dismay. There was even a run on Hostess products in many areas. With so many fans, how was Hostess bankrupt?

Everyone wants more fans.

More blog subscribers. More Twitter followers. More newsletter sign-ups, more Facebook likes, more Pinterest follows. Many believe that if you have a huge number of fans, you’ll be successful. But it isn’t true. In fact, fans can sink your brand.

Hostess had tons of fans. Lots of people mourned the passing of the snack-food giant. But there is one important distinction – fans aren’t customers.

Sure, they like Hostess. They have fond memories of Twinkies from their childhood. Maybe they thought about a guilty cupcake indulgence occasionally. In their mind, Hostess was an icon. But not a regular household product. And so, with millions of fans, Hostess went bankrupt.

What about your business? Do you have fans, or customers?

Turning Fans into Customers

Having fans isn’t a terrible thing. The trick is to move them from being fans to being regular customers of your brand. If you can do that, you’ll keep your fans from sinking your business. Here are three ways you can turn your fans into clients.

1. Provide Real Value. People love to be fans of stuff. They’ll even share it on social media – cute puppies, funny quotes, or inspirational photos. But they don’t want to fork over money without having a really good idea that they will get value in return. Start off by providing value for free – a report, white paper, or a free trial. Once your fans see that that you provide great value, you’ll be able to put out a paid product or present your premium service. Your fans will be happy to pay for your already-proved expertise.

2. Interact and Build Trust. People are more likely to spend money with organizations and people that they feel like they know. Whether your fans are on a blog or Twitter, get to know them. Make them feel like they are a part of your brand family. Then, take it a step further and give them a special paid offer. With the rapport you’ve built, you will get plenty of customers.

3. Stay Visible and Keep Selling. The final step is to keep your brand positioned as an ongoing offer. If your brand becomes a piece of your fans’ nostalgic past, you’ve lost. Make sure your fans know that your brand is still around and still offering great value. Do your best to stay relevant to new long-term trends among your customers, and continuously execute the first two steps above. Your business will thrive for years to come. 

Hostess went bankrupt because it had legions of fans who wouldn’t buy its product. Fans are great but will sink your business if they don’t turn into loyal customers. By providing value, building trust, and continuously selling, you can turn your fans into customers and avoid Hostess’ fate.

What are some ways your business converts fans to customers? Share in the comments!

Anna

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