From Main Street to Wall Street, businesses need to adopt strategies to build brand loyalty among their customers. Whether your company offers special sales on different days, members-only email coupons or punch cards for repeat customers, a brand-loyalty strategy needs to be put in place to keep shoppers coming back.
With so many other aspects of a business to take up an entrepreneur’s time, the important task of marketing and sales can get placed on the back burner. But since this is a way to bring in customers, why wouldn’t this be your first task at hand?
Even when your business is breathing well, the marketing is solid, you've closed potential sales and provided a service, your work is not done, as I wrote in my book The Mirror Test. Continue to add value to your company and its brand. Here are seven ways to build a robust and engaging brand-loyalty program.
Continually deliver on the promises you've already made. Does your business claim to provide the fastest service in town? Then always deliver on this pledge 100 percent. That’s the surest and quickest way to build up brand loyalty simultaneously building goodwill and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
2. Fix your mistakes.
Should you make a mistake, apologize and fix it. The old adage “the customer is always right" might not be always true but thanks to social media, consumers are always engaged. One way to avoid a PR firestorm is to quickly and efficiently address any negative comments.
Don’t simply delete them, but address them and try to fix them. Don’t let customers walk away feeling as if they got the runaround or are being ignored. Strive to provide the best customer service possible.
Related: Turning an Oops Into an Opportunity
3. Value your products or services.
Remember that your products and services are valuable. So avoid trying to provide the lowest, rock-bottom prices like the big-box stores or chain retailers. Instead, let the business, services and products do the talking for you. Be sure your store conveys the look and feel of your products or services. Nothing kills a mood more than a dingy, unkempt shop, irregular branding or employees with bad attitudes.
4. Treasure your customers.
Set up a reward system for loyal shoppers, essentially making a game of it. Have a sign-up sheet near the register for people to leave their email addresses so they can receive coupons. Ask shoppers to send a text and opt in for special alerts delivered to their mobile devices.
Be active on social media and develop a following there: You’ll be able to share pictures, sale information and surprise deals as well as drive excitement about your business through social media.
If your company offers a professional service, such as business consulting, consider providing an incentive for current customers to send new clients your way.
5. Think big. Act bigger.
Pay attention to your customers' wants, needs and likes. I really like Diet Mountain Dew and the stores I visit regularly keep some on hand for me. A caring gesture could be as simple as sending customers an email or postcard reminding them that they are due for an appointment or need to reorder products.
Be sure the music in the store matches the demographics of the company's customer base. It’s all about paying attention to details to make customers feel valued and appreciated.
6. Give back.
Company owners should be active in the community. This doesn’t have to cost your organization a lot of money, but it can create goodwill among current and potential customers, employees and fellow businesspeople. If you’re into sports, participate in marathons to raise money or awareness for charities. If your business caters to children and families, run a toy drive for kids in need.
7. Team up.
In Sioux Falls, S.D., the businesses along Phillips Avenue work together to put on special events, which are attended by thousands of residents. That’s a lot of people who could be seeing the branding of your company it it were a sponsor. Customers appreciate events because it gets people out of the house and having fun. Talk to neighboring stores or businesses in town about ways that partnerships might make sense. You never know what kinds of opportunities might arise.