Making Your Customers Love You: The Keys To Customer Loyalty
Every small business owner should prioritize creating customer loyalty. Not only do they help pay the bills with their recurring business, they also serve as advocates who can yield even more loyal customers. While each of them is different, there are some common ways to foster loyalty among all types of customers. Here’s how:
1. Be Authentic
Your customers can’t love you if they don’t know what to love. If your brand is wishy-washy or you’re unclear about what you stand for, take time to figure it out. When you look at big brands with loyal followers, such as Nike or Apple, you see brands that celebrate the inner athlete and applaud functional design – simple concepts that haven’t changed since the brands were founded decades ago.
Strong brands build loyal followings, and you don’t have to be huge to be good at it. If you’re a one-shop jeweler, you can differentiate by creating your own designs and build loyalty on a promise of individuality. If you design websites, a promise of intuitive page layout might be your differentiator. Develop your brand, and stick to the promise it delivers. For insights into building a strong brand, click here.
2. Close Ranks
Think about college rivalries for a moment. They thrive because each student body is fiercely loyal to its own side, even though the students are pretty similar in either place. Remove the spirit gear and face paint, and a freshman at University of Mississippi looks pretty much like a freshman at Mississippi State.
What fosters loyalty on each side is a common enemy, and it’s something your small business needs to develop a fervent following. It doesn’t have to be real – or even threatening, for that matter – just ‘out there’ so you can rally your customers around the concept of it. For example, if you run a law firm, this enemy could be the ‘faceless’ corporations that have it out for the little guy.
3. Make It Personal
One advantage small businesses have over large ones is the ability to get personal with consumers – and nothing builds loyalty like personal service. Whether you’re greeting people at your convenience store or delivering flowers from your nursery, you can look customers in the eye and tell them you appreciate their business. And what’s not to love about that?
Even when it comes to mass marketing, small businesses can gain an edge in the personalization department. You have the ability to hand-sign a hundred or so customer postcards, if you choose. A large company may have to settle for a handwriting font that savvy consumers can see right through.
Events and other activities that foster loyalty are also easier to coordinate. From customer appreciation sales to exclusive customer workshops, things are easier to pull together when you’re smaller and more nimble.
Creating a loyal customer following requires brand self-awareness, a cause to rally against, and a personal touch. Master these three aspects and your customers will love you as much as you love their business.