Today I participated in a small book club, appropriately named "Books and Bowls" with some fellow lady bosses in my community and the first book on our list was Monster Loyalty by Jackie Huba. The book was a quick and easy read breaking down how Lady Gaga successfully turns her followers into fanatics through seven easy-to-follow lessons. I have always been a fan of Gaga and was intrigued by this book from the start. Lady Gaga might be a little 'out there' but she is authentic, attention-grabbing, thought-provoking and well known within her field which are just a few reasons fans including myself adore and admire her. It's also why businesses could stand to learn a thing or two from her. After reading this book, I uncovered several takeaways from what Gaga has done for creation and retention of fans that can be translated and applied to business, passion projects, life or what-have-you.
I have become a big fan of note taking while reading because it helps me retain my thoughts and key takeaways from the book while also coming up with ways I can put my learnings into practice. To take my note-taking one step further, I also find it more impactful for me (and perhaps similarly beneficial for you) for me to translate my notes into a blog post for reference. My notebook will inevitably go by the wayside but this blog isn't going anywhere so my notes will be here for me to refer back to time and time again. I won't give away all of Huba and Gaga's secrets to success (you'll have to read the book for that) but I will share my notes that include high level overviews of the themes included in the book.
As previously mentioned, Huba breaks down the book into seven sections, rather lessons, that can be applied to business, a passion project, life or whatever the case may be for you. In the book, Huba also provides real-world product and business examples helping the reader further identify with each lesson.
Lesson Number One: Focus on Your One Percenters
Customer/client loyalty is crucial and important to the longevity of any business and/or project. Your 1%'s are your evangelists or brand loyaltists. It is those individuals who are passionate about your project/product/company/service, who believe in what you do and what you stand for, who purchase your products and services to use and gift to others, and who provide unsolicated praises as well as suggestions for improvement that will take your business/project to the next level.
Lesson Number Two: Lead With Your Values
What is the emotional connection that your consumers, clients or followers have with you, your product, or brand? Huba says to consider the values, the beliefs that you have and how what you offer can change lives for the better. The phrase that I keep hearing over and over popped up once more in this book..."figure out your 'why'".
According to Huba, there are five dimensions for a cause:
- Embody a Vision - The perception of how you/your product or service can change the world.
- Make People Better - Values should make people perform or feel better while providing transparency and accessibility.
- Generate Big Effects - Make sure that your values are scalable.
- Catalyze Selfless Actions - Powerful causes can make ordinary people do special things.
- Polarize People - Causes that challenge the norm can generate strong feelings. Clients/followers will love it or hate it but regardless it will be memorable.
Lesson Number Three: Build Community
What is the common thread that brings people in your community or social space together? Connecting with like-minded people can help take your success to the next level. It's also important when building and bridging those connections to be authentic and stay true to yourself. Lady Gaga absolutely does this. Brand ambassador programs help to build and foster relationships with your brand and community, creating experience for those in the community by making them feel included and part of something special and exclusive. Community doesn't happen overnight though. It takes time and patience to develop this with your brand and/or platform, but if you put in the hard work, dedication and nurture your relationships you will be on the right track.
Lesson Number Four: Give Fans a Name
If you are a fan of Lady Gaga, you probably know that she calls her fans "Little Monsters". Fans of Lady Gaga assume that identity as part of the Little Monster fan group which goes back to building community. Giving fans or brand supporters a name provides them with an identity, some type of recognizable behavior or characteristic that is associated with the product/service/offering that they share and have bond with. In the book, Huba gave the example of Maker's Mark Ambassadors in which my husband is a member. It truly does feel like part of an exclusive club to be a Maker's Ambassador including getting special gifts around the holidays, invites to ambassador-only events, branded ambassador products all leading up to getting to take home bottles of Maker's Mark bourbon from his very own barrel.
Lesson Number Five: Embrace Shared Symbols
Think of this as a way of turning experience into symbols. In the example of Lady Gaga, her fans all have the shared symbol of the monster paw. This paw has special meaning with fans of Gaga and is also a way fans can self-identify with the larger community. Symbols should have meaning and bind your community together.
Lesson Number Six: Make Them Feel Like Rockstars
In the case of a business, customers are the rockstars. In the case of my blog, you, my reader, are a rockstar! Depending on the offering, customers might not be buying tickets to see a show but they are buying, reading, consuming and/or supporting what you offer. Huba suggests converting customers to rockstars by turning the spotlight and attention to them. Celebrate the success of customers by highlighting them as a feature within the community. Even small gestures like resharing a social media post can make customers or followers feel important and included with the community. Taking it one step further and finding creative ways to showcase and feature customers in the community can provide more engagement and feedback because it will give others something to talk about as well as connect with emotionally.
Lesson Number Seven: Generate Something to Talk About
According to Huba, it's not necessary to always 'play it safe' when it comes to our work. Lady Gaga definitely does not err on the side of 'safe'...ahem, the meat dress and that egg vessel entry at the Grammy's. Create something remarkable that causes pause and gives the consumer something to talk about. Generating something to talk about that is meaningful and important ensures consumers will continue to look at you for inspiration and ideas.
If you are looking for new ideas to take your business, passion-project or even life to the next level, this book would be a great read for you. Lady Gaga's story as well as other business examples highlighted make this book quite interesting and definitely got the wheels turning of how these strategies/lessons can be applied to my own passion project (i.e, this blog) and my, soon to be launched, personal training business.
I loved getting together with fellow lady entreprenuers Erin of Be The Benchmark and Laura of CUltivate Central Illinois to talk about this book, share thoughts and ideas while discussing ways that the lessons highlighted above can be implemented into our businesses and projects. And while she didn't get to attend our first round, the other lady boss in this group, Emma of Just BEE Acai still supplied us with delicious acai bowls that we enjoyed over our discussion. Thank you Emma!!
It comes back to lesson three: building community by surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Know that you don't have to do anything alone. Meeting with these ladies today to discuss this book helped take the ideas and lessons uncovered in Monster Loyalty to another level while providing inspiration and support along the way. Never be afraid to talk with others, share your story, try new things and always be open to new ways of doing something!