Nurturing the characteristics of a charismatic company to inspire devoted, loyal advocates to provide social proof.
Social proof is huge in SaaS marketing. What people think and say about your SaaS has a lot to do with its momentum and market fit. But how they feel about your solution has wider implications. Real advocacy comes from having a devoted tribe. That’s the difference between marketing coming from just you, or having thousands of authentic voices spreading the word on your behalf. The latter is incredibly powerful. And it comes from creating a charismatic brand.
Inspiring devotion from visitors, followers, and customers.
I saw this play out at ion interactive before we were acquired. Devotion wasn’t limited to customers. It started with people who were familiar with us. And then it extended to those who actively followed us. And yes, it culminated in passionate customers. The customer piece was great, but the wider social proof that came from people on the outskirts had massive value as well. Just last week I interviewed someone who was clearly a devoted, passionate, ion advocate. She was never a customer. And only used the platform for a short time. But she loved the company. More accurately, she loved what we stood for. Our point of view deeply resonated with her.
6 ways to nurture the characteristics of a charismatic SaaS company and inspire social proof.
My inspiration for this post came from a breakfast meeting I had yesterday with an old friend. One of the topics we discussed was what made some SaaS companies spread like wildfire while others have to work so hard for traction. There are a lot of factors in play there, but one of the ones that came up was fan-like devotion and social proof. That led to a discussion around the idea of charisma and how that dovetailed with SaaS culture. And that led to how founders can nurture the characteristics that make a company magnetic.
Today, as I was noodling this article, I Googled charisma and did some reading. It’s interesting to me to think about these characteristics outside the context of a person, in the broader context of an entire company.
Charisma is the ability to attract, charm, and influence the people around you.Psychology Today
Being attractive, charming and influential sounds like a pretty good road toward breeding passionate advocates.
Charisma — a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure (such as a political leader)Merriam-Webster
But, what makes a company charismatic? I’m going to draft off of six elements of personal charisma courtesy of Psychology Today and reframe them in the context of a company…
1. Emotional Expressiveness
As a company, do we express our point of view spontaneously and genuinely? This cuts to the core for me, which is authenticity. An authentic voice is a unique one, and a differentiated, real perspective on a space or problem is both valuable and useful — inspiring advocacy and social proof.
2. Emotional Sensitivity
To me, as a company, do we listen, have empathy, and express our brand with a high emotional IQ? Do we make everyone who interacts with us feel valued and heard? One of the most critical things a growing SaaS company does is listen, ingest and respond to feedback in the form of evolutionary changes. When those adjustments show emotional sensitivity, they exemplify a charismatic brand that is more likely to engender passionate advocacy and social proof.
3. Emotional Control
How do we react as a company? To adversity? The market? To competitors? And to success? Do we remain calm and centered as a brand? Do we show maturity, control, and confidence in everything we do? Part of being an innovator is leading as a nascent entity. Inspiring confidence is critical. And showing that, as a company, we are calm, cool, collected, and in control is a vital contributor to our charisma.
4. Social Expressiveness
SaaS companies are often content marketing juggernauts. We communicate a lot. Our ability to be informative, transparent, authentic, entertaining, and engaging has an impact on the success of our content. More importantly, the power in our words impacts our charisma and social proof. Keep in mind that your brand’s social expressiveness is far more about perception than reality. Your public voice, and point of view, should be clear, articulate, and conversational.
5. Social Sensitivity
A SaaS company’s ability to be in tune with its advocates tracks back to its listening skills. How well does it read and interpret the virtual room? How well does it internalize sentiment to respond with tact and sensitivity? To me, this is also about being perceived as being on the same team and same page as your tribe. When your tribe is in the boat and you’re all rowing together, you move much faster.
6. Social Control
You know the people who always seem to have a way to connect with a stranger they meet for the first time? The grace and poise designed into a company’s voice and point of view can make it welcoming and easy to connect with. The inverse can be standoffish and far less inclusive — not the characteristics of a charismatic company nor one that generates mass quantities of social proof.
Listen and feel. Be authentic and real. Earn your tribe. And your social proof.
So there you have six elements of charisma — three emotional and three social. I believe they align with companies as much as they do with individuals. In a sense, they’re more difficult to cultivate in a company because they need to be executed against by so many different people. But, if the mission and values, and the point of view, and the founders and leadership, all point to these six elements, you’ve got a real shot at being the charismatic brand that attracts passionate advocates. Meteoric growth is a lot easier with all those extra people rowing with you.