In a world full of #FakeNews and growing distrust, 21% of Americans believe in Bigfoot. The story of this hairy primate has transcended beyond folklore – the FBI recently closed a 40 year investigation trying to prove, or disprove, the very existence of this elusive beast.
More than sixty years since the first “documented sighting” Bigfoot has become big business. Bigfoot starred next to John Lithgow in Harry and the Hendersons, he’s featured on board games, serving as the face of Jack Link’s beef jerky, and even has a weekly documentary on the A&E channel.
Despite a complete lack of scientific proof, 1 in 5 American’s believe in this two-legged mythical beast. Somehow, someway, Bigfoot has built himself as a mega brand with die-hard advocates, through the power of word of mouth marketing – which begs the question: what can we learn from this marketing mastermind?
Find your first believer.
In 1967 Bob Gimlin stumbled across Bigfoot in a heavily wooded area of Northern California called, Bluff Creek. Scrambling to dismount his horse, turn on his camera, and get into position, Gimlin manages to film about one minute worth of footage of Bigfoot making his way across the creek.
But during this shaky footage something happens. Without breaking stride Bigfoot glances over his shoulder and looks directly at Gimlin as if saying “I see you”, and then he quickly disappears into the woods. Bigfooter Scot Violette said, “We don’t see these things because we’re in their woods. We’re not going to find them – they’re going to find us.”
That’s an important lesson for marketers. It is our responsibility to find our Bob Gimlin. The one person that believes in our brand so deeply to their core that 60 years of ridicule cannot shake their loyalty. But finding this person can literally feel like finding Bigfoot wandering through the vast mountain ranges of California.
Use these nine belief indicators to help you find your Bob Gimlin:
- Are they an existing customer?
- Have they tried talking to you about their fandom?
- Do they subscribe to your email?
- Do they follow you on social media?
- Have they left a review of your product?
- Are they already talking about you to others?
- Were they referred to you by someone you trust?
- Do they work for you, or have they partnered with you in the past?
- Have they had a compelling experience with your brand?
Build better relationships.
In the sixty years since Gimlin’s encounter with Bigfoot there have been 1,000 recorded sightings. While this feels like a lot of run ins with the elusive monster, it’s only 1 encounter every 21 days. But these encounters are not used to sell or promote the Bigfoot brand - no, instead they are used to create an unshakable connection between man and beast.
“I remember the feeling. YES! They really do exist.”
Compared to most marketing efforts, this is a far cry from typical. Inboxes are targeted daily, social posts are blasted hourly, and retargeting ads are running constantly. Marketers are over-indexing on quantity rather than quality. Shifting this dynamic takes time and effort, but can establish deep emotional connections that are otherwise hard to create.
As marketers, we can learn from Bigfoots behavior. It is important we take the time to upgrade our transactional relationships to personal relationships. According to Steve Knox, long time Procter & Gamble exec, when brands create personal relationships with even just the top 2% of their customers, their advocacy grows – therefore, their sales grow.
Build better relationships with your 2% with these five steps:
- Recognize your customers fandom.
- Do things that don’t scale.
- Make yourself available to your customers.
- Give your 2% insider-access.
- Stop selling. Start communicating.
Let the believers convert the non-believers.
Since the beginning of this urban legend, Bigfoot has never managed an Instagram account, held a press release, run an ad campaign, paid an influencer, or built a website. Instead, he’s let the Bigfoot believers serve as a mouthpiece for his very existence.
These believers are featured in news segments, guests on podcasts, authors of books, and willing participants in any conversation discussing this mythical man. The believers themselves have become iconic figures in the Bigfoot story.
“Meeting Bob Gimlin, to a Bigfooter, is like meeting the President of the United States to an American. Or what meeting the Pope is to a Catholic.” - Cindy Rose Caddell, Bigfoot researcher and author.
The intensity in which Bigfoot believers proselytize is unheard of – despite having access to verified scientific evidence. This passion is captured in the comments following Gimlin’s footage on YouTube as Bigfoot believers defend fact, fiction, and folklore.
Marketers that recognize the power of word of mouth are not only growing their new customer base at a record pace, they are also strengthening the brand loyalty of their faithful followers. Here are three ways brands can make every customer a sales driving mouthpiece for their brand:
- Be your customers biggest fan.
- Share your customers stories with your followers.
- Make your customers powerful.
Bigfoot, the marketer.
At no point has Bigfoot stepped forward to confirm, or deny, his very existence, – but his story has taken the nation by storm and endured countless rebuttals. It’s through the voices of a few eye witnesses that so many others now believe. Bigfoot may just be the best word-of-mouth marketer of all time.
If you don’t believe me, just ask the 66 million Bigfoot believers.