We live in an age where the consumer, your customers, have taken back a bit of the power because they have the ability to do much more research than before. Gone are the days of the door-to-door vacuum salesmen where your purchase meant that you were buying into the product as much as you were the brand and the salesman relationship.
So how do you get your customers to buy into your brand when they have all of this information at their fingertips, and there are many competitors in each sector?
Here are some tips on building customer loyalty and keeping it.
First impressions are everything
When you go on your fist date, you always put your best foot forward because you want there to be a second. It’s the same thing for getting customers to buy in to your brand. Make sure you are showcasing your “best brand” possible. One of the keys to this is being genuine. Your audience can smell a snake-oil salesman. You should focus on providing high quality products/services to ensure that your first impression leads to a second date.
Don’t force it
Cramming your brand down someone’s throat doesn’t mean they will be loyal to you. In fact, people don’t like to feel pressured. That daily newsletter you have been sending? Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Unless you are offering amazing value, it’s likely looked at as spam. Better to have a newsletter go out less and have the open and click through rates higher.
You can say content is king (or insert whatever buzz phrases you want). The reality is, content is definitely very important. What you need to look at is what your customers actually care about. If you get to know what they like, then your shareability goes up when you post online. This adds credibility to your brand.
Make it easy to switch from competitors
Are you offering any incentive to switch from competitors? Perhaps a discount or free training… Once you offer that incentive, you better make sure to follow it up with a great brand experience, otherwise switching to you won’t mean a thing in the long-term.
Give your new customers a reason to come back and become long-term loyal customers. It can be as simple as a 10% discount for returning customers, or a “finder’s fee” for referrals. Another great idea is to feature some of your most loyal customers in a spotlight post on social media or in your blog. Find creative ways to make them feel #famous.
This goes a few ways. It’s always important to have open communication between you and your customers. That’s good customer service – well the start of it. You need to make sure you actually listen if they have complaints/issues. Find out why they chose you as their brand of choice and focus on those things as your differentiators.
The other way dialogue is important is you need to make sure you are empowering customers to talk about your brand. Give them opportunities to share their experiences with their friend and family. A great review goes a long way.
Lastly, make sure you acknowledge and show appreciation of your customers. “Thank you” is a very powerful statement.
Operate with integrity – deliver on your brand promise
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Once your customers choose you, it’s important to make sure you are consistently delivering what you promise. Cutting corners and faking it won’t get you anywhere on the road to loyalty.
In order for you to compete with your competitors, you need to know what they are doing and what is going on in your industry. If the industry is getting very high-tech and you are still using carrier pigeons as your main form of communication, then you are making it hard for your customers to stay with you because your competitors are offering a more attractive package in terms of their needs.
Find your niche
We can’t be all things to all people. If you are starting out and you are a small operation, you may not be able to compete with the main brands in your industry. Have a look at your target audience and segment it so you can select a niche for yourself. It’s better to start with a smaller segment and win them over than trying to attack all at once. You likely don’t have enough troops for that… And by troops, I mean budget and brand awareness. Build up brand awareness and budget and then take over the world.