Think Like a Rock Star to Boost Online Sales

Social media expert shares tips to grow your fan base.

by Brad and Debra Schepp
- Jun 07, 2013

As writers, we try to avoid clichés. Sure they're easy and come to mind readily. But after a while do they really convey anything?

One cliché that's become popular is "like a rock star." A Google search found you can "party like a rock star," "die like a rock star," and, yes, even "cook like a rock star."

So you can imagine our skepticism when a new book crossed our desks: Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies that Turn Customers into Fans.

The author, Mack Collier's, premise is that "rock stars" with their legions of friends and followers can create armies of dedicated fans. So what, you ask? You're not Taylor Swift. Well the book explains how to apply lessons from these stars to "develop advocates of any type of brand, who will increase profits and grow your brand."

What small to medium-size business wouldn't want to increase their profits and grow their brands? To learn more, we spoke with Collier, who is a social media strategist, trainer and speaker.

Rock stars understand that their biggest fans are driving word of mouth, and acquiring new customers for them

Cater to existing fans

Schepp: What's the premise behind your book? By thinking "like a rock star" should people who run small businesses use the same strategies rock stars use to connect with their audiences? What if I'm just a guy selling items on eBay to make a living? Should I still strive to think like a rock star?

Collier: The main idea behind Think Like a Rock Star is to look at how rock stars become successful by not focusing on acquiring new customers, but instead by delighting their existing fans.

Rock stars relentlessly identify their biggest and most passionate fans, and then create amazing experiences for them. The reason why is because rock stars understand that their biggest fans are driving word of mouth, and acquiring new customers for them.

For the most part, I think small businesses understand the idea of connecting with and appreciating your biggest fans more than big brands do. For the eBay example, let's say you sell vintage computer games on the site.

If Peter starts buying from you regularly, you might want to connect with him to learn more about what he's looking for. So let's say next week you buy a big collection and it includes three games Peter is looking for. Maybe one of them is worth $5, and another is worth $50.

With the $5 one, maybe you include that in Peter's next order as a thank you, and then let him know that you are about to list the $50 game he wants on eBay. That increases the chance that Peter will promote you to other game collectors, plus it increases the chance that he will buy from you again. A double win!

Loyalty to the brand versus loyalty to an offer

Schepp: Your book suggests you should aim to turn customers (and potential customers) into fans and then evangelists. Why, and is this a strategy that would work for smaller businesses as well?

Collier: One of the things I talk about in Think Like a Rock Star (and this also ties into my answer for the first question) is the idea of building loyalty with customers. A lot of companies confuse this concept, and they start out trying to build loyalty to their brand, but end up building loyalty to an offer instead.

In general, if you give a customer something after the purchase as a reward for making that purchase (such as the above example where you give Peter a $5 game he needs), then that builds loyalty, because you are essentially saying "thank you" to the customer for their order.

If you have a punch card that gives you a free meal after you purchase 10, that is an incentive to purchase, but it doesn't build loyalty

But if you give a customer something before the purchase as an incentive to make the purchase, then you aren't building loyalty to your business. For example, if you have a punch card from Pizza Hut that gives you a free buffet meal after you purchase 10, then that is an incentive designed to encourage a purchase, but it really doesn't build loyalty.

Schepp: How do I convert these fans/evangelists into more sales for my products? I don't want to be too obvious about this but, after all, that's what our readers are after—making more money. What are the steps to take?

Collier: A lot of it simply comes down to letting the fans do what they want to do anyway! For example, I just released my first book.

One of the things we know is that books with more positive reviews have better sales, so every time someone tweets me that they are enjoying my book, I then thank them and ask them to please review the book on Amazon. So far it's resulted in several additional reviews on the site, all five-star.

You could do the same thing with your customers, if you are selling on eBay and a customer contacts you to tell that they love buying from you, ask them to please tell others about you!

Better still, when you send them their order, include a few extra business cards to pass along to friends. The idea is to do everything you can to encourage your satisfied customers to tell others about you.

Focus on the 'how' to engage fans

Schepp: Can you give me some examples of marketing strategies from large companies or even rock stars that may be useful for much smaller companies?

Collier: One thing that companies of all sizes struggle with when it comes to social media marketing is figuring out how to create engaging content.

The problem that most companies run into is a disconnect between the type of content they want to create versus what their customers want. Instead of creating content that focuses on the company and its products, it's usually easier to create engaging content by focusing on how customers will use your product.

For example, Red Bull doesn't create content that's focused on its energy drinks, it creates content focused on extreme sports. In other words, its content focuses on what happens after you drink its energy drink.

Because Red Bull understands that its customers don't care about its energy drink, it cares about what its energy drinks allow them to do. So if you want to create more engaging content (especially if you are a B2C) then create content that focuses on how your customers use your products, and their likes and interests.

Schepp: Many large companies and rock stars probably have people who do their social media outreach for them. Do you have any advice for small companies who would like to outsource these functions?

It would be better to man social channels yourself than outsource it to a third party that doesn't understand your voice or the connection you want to create with your customers

Collier: Yes, my advice would be to not outsource.

Seriously, if a smaller company wants to use social media, it would be better if they did the actual content creation and engagement with their customers themselves. Even if it means you have to use fewer channels, it would be better if you manned those channels yourself versus outsourcing it to a third party that really doesn't understand your voice or the connection you want to create with your customers.

Rock stars want fans, so should you

Schepp: What are some of the most surprising things you learned in writing this book?

Collier: When I started researching how rock stars market themselves about five years ago, the primary motivation was to figure out how they so easily create and cultivate fans, and then apply that methodology to brands and their efforts to create fans.

I assumed that rock stars had some natural advantage that simply made it easier for them to cultivate fans, but they don't. The biggest reason why rock stars have fans is because rock stars want fans. They constantly seek to have a deeper connection with their most passionate customers, and they constantly look for ways to create amazing experiences for them. That's why rock stars have fans and companies have customers.

Schepp: What else would you like to say about your book to the readers of Auctiva EDU?

Collier: Think Like a Rock Star was written to give companies the definitive handbook for creating and cultivating fans. One of the biggest complaints that most people have about business and social media marketing books is that they will tell you why you should do something, but they don't tell you how to do it.

Think Like a Rock Star has explicit and simple-to-follow instructions in every single chapter. No matter if your business has one fan or a million, my book will give you the step-by-step instructions to teach you how to cultivate deeper relationships with your fans that lead to growth for your business.

Plus, it's a very interesting read, with dozens of case studies from both the brand side (Dell, Patagonia, Graco, Ford, etc.) as well as from the music industry (Lady Gaga, Amanda Palmer, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, etc). You can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all major book retailers.

About the Author

Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book, which Deb co-authored with John Lawson, Kick Ass Social Commerce for E-preneurs: It's Not About Likes—It's About Sales, was recently named the 2015 Small Business Book of the Year in the social media category.

For further information, visit Brad and Deb's website,

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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