Thinker in Residence: Jackie Huba, author of Monster Loyalty

Sally Haldorson

May 01, 2013


Jackie Huba is the co-author of two books on customer loyalty. Citizen Marketers: When People are the Message documents the emerging world of social media and how brands should begin to embrace a participatory culture.

Jackie Huba is the co-author of two books on customer loyalty. Citizen Marketers: When People are the Message documents the emerging world of social media and how brands should begin to embrace a participatory culture. Jackie's first book, Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force, explains how companies convert customers into evangelists who spread the word about products, benefits or value propositions. Huba's work has frequently been featured in the media, such as the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Businessweek, and Advertising Age. She was a founding Board Member of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. Her new book, Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics, will be released May 2, 2013.

Our Take on Monster Loyalty:

Lady Gaga is a musician, an entertainer, and a pop star. She wears crazy outfits and has wild videos. But if you ask some people, she's so much more than that. She's the person who inspires them, who gives them confidence, and who listens to them and understands. Clearly, Lady Gaga isn't just making music and putting on a show. Her work centers on connecting with her fans, which she calls "Little Monsters." And by doing so, has created a devoted following of millions and a long-term business strategy that rivals most businesses today. A musician! Who knew? Jackie Huba knew. She herself was a fan of the artist and began to observe the ways that Lady Gaga interacted with her fans – some of them unique, all of them personal and sincere. As CEO of her business, Gaga does everything from personally inviting fans backstage at concerts to chatting directly with fans on their own social network to discuss everything Gaga related. An online marketing expert, Huba has long shed light on the power of word-of-mouth marketing, and she saw Lady Gaga take it to a level most companies only dream of. So, she wrote a book about it: Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers Into Fanatics.

"An important step in creating passionate, loyal customers is not just to focus on the features and benefits of your product or service but to make sure customers know that your business is about something bigger. By bigger, I mean something emotional that people can believe in."

Most musicians are focused on writing the next big hit, staying relevant, and creating products to sell their fans. According to Huba, Gaga focuses first on connecting with fans. After all, without fans, a good song is unheard, a concert hall is empty, and merchandise is unsold. Huba includes a quote from Lady Gaga to illustrate: "I'm not the beginning anymore. I don't really see myself anymore as the center. They're the center. I'm the atmosphere around it...I will continue to become whatever it is [the fans] would like for me to be." How many companies think like this? Huba examines a variety of them – Fiskars, Mini, Method, and other companies that share Lady Gaga's commitment to and reliance on her followers. These companies, like Gaga, know to "Focus on your One Percenters" in order to "Build a Community," and "Embrace Shared Symbols" to "Make Them Feel Like Rock Stars." While there are companies successful at this approach, none of them are as successful as Lady Gaga. And therein lie the lessons to learn, and the inspiration to change our business for the better. Huba states:
Building community starts with finding a common thread that brings people together. Common experiences that the members of a community have had help define what a community is all about and make it possible for members to rely on one another for support. Companies who want to build these kinds of communities have to act small even if they aren't. They need to treat customers like peers and create a feeling of intimacy--a feeling that those customers are part of a group of like-minded people, not merely purchasers to be mass-messaged at.
Monster Loyalty is a book about marketing, customer engagement, and building a business for the long haul. It also happens to be about an engaging but unlikely character, one with a very specific vision that connects with a very specific fanbase, one we can all learn from. Don't miss the opportunity this book offers to create your own distinctive brand that inspires a monster-amount of loyalty.

Explore Further:

Named as one of the 10 most influential online marketers, Jackie co-authors the award-winning Church of the Customer blog. With more than 105,000 daily readers, it's ranked as one of the most popular business blogs in the world.


Check in with us tomorrow as we continue our Thinker in Residence series on Jackie Huba with a Q&A interview on what brands can learn from Lady Gaga and companies who create both buzz and meaning.

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