Seth Godin suggests that we can define super fans by identifying people who would miss us if our cause ceased to exist. Said differently, who would contact us until they got answers when no one showed-up. I believe there is a footnote to defining the super fans tribe. There are those who would sincerely miss us and the remarkable services we provide. A sub-group exists. Individuals who believe we owe them something so they might continue to advance their own cause. The super transactional tribe. Those who confuse business, discounts, frequent flyer status for loyalty. The people who interact with our cause because they get something that has less to do with achieving the mission than it does with inflating their standing.
These two groups run on parallel tracks when an organization is in growth mode. It is hard to distinguish super fans from super transactors. When the organizational lifecycle plateaus or a dips the interest of the two micro-tribes reveals itself. Super fans inquire what fuel we need to continue the journey. Super transactors fight to for the perks and benefits that came with their exchange of money for service.
Super fans and super transactors are powerful allies and critical to an enterprises success. Understanding their motives is essential if we choose to embrace and reward them. If we can only cultivate one tribe, super fans will endure longer than super transactors.