Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Adam D’Angelo all have great minds, but they can’t build a successful company with loyal customers alone. In order to turn your customers into evangelists, you first have to turn your employees into ones.
If you are creating a startup, here are the steps to follow:
1) Figure out what the purpose of your company is (If your purpose is to make as much money as possible, your users will never become evangelists). What cause is your startup fighting for? Give your users a crusade to join.
2) Eat, breathe, and sleep your purpose. Every product you create, every decision you make, and every service you provide should be in alignment with upholding the purpose of your company. It doesn’t matter if you are creating a blog for the company, or if you are creating an electronic product for the company… your purpose should still be the same.
3) Constantly communicate your purpose to everyone. Co-founders, employees, users. Let everyone know what you stand for, and what the big picture of your company is. The CEO’s life should be a walking symbol of the company’s purpose.
4) Never, ever betray your employees or users. You must lead by example. Once trust is lost, it is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to regain. Why does Groupon get so much more hate than LivingSocial, when in reality both companies essentially provide the same service? This is due to the fact that no one believes Groupon actually helps small businesses because their actions are not in sync with their purpose(contracting aggressive salesmen to hassle small businesses, poor customer service after the Groupon is done, taking money off IPO, etc).
Turning users into evangelists is not an easy task. It usually takes years of consistently making the right decision before users will open up and truly trust a company. As your startup grows and adds more team members, it gets harder and harder to uphold all of the same values that the company was originally founded upon. But everything starts with your leader. The leader must live a life that aligns with the company’s purpose, and also make decisions for the company that are absolutely in sync with its meaning. The leader must then constantly communicate to everyone what the company is striving for.
If your life becomes a symbol of your company’s purpose, and you constantly reiterate to your co-founders and employees what you’re fighting for, your team will slowly be able to make the right decisions without you even being there. This is how a company grows to thousands and still holds the same values. This is how Apple employees can make high level decisions without Steve Jobs guiding them each step of the way. This is how your customers slowly begin to join your crusade and start advocating for your cause. This is how you turn your users into evangelists.