Many businesses tend to lean on new customers as the key driver for growth and building strong numbers on the balance sheet. Sure new customers are always what we are looking for in terms of sheer growth however when we look at the financial statements and do a deep dive into where revenue is coming from we will find most of our growth in terms of dollars comes from repeat business. But most of us are afraid of taking our eyes off of new customers to focus on loyalty for fear of losing momentum and sacrificing growth. If you pay attention to some of the “big players” in business: Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung, and Disney, all focus their attention on keeping customers. So the question now is how do they do it? I can tell you it isn’t by creating better video ads. There are three key elements for building loyalty and increasing repeat business with your brand.
First, it’s important that you build a clear brand proposition. This is the “value proposition” that clearly communicates with the world who and what you care about. Not what you sell. Some would call this a company slogan but what it does to the listener is build commonality and connection. Apple built a loyal following by appealing to the innovator. It positioned itself as a trailblazer, not a computer company. By doing so Apple was able to build a strong loyal base that stood outside of stores for hours waiting to get their hands on the next product. Where else do you see that kind of loyalty? I can only think of a handful of businesses. So what does your brand say about your company and how does it connect with your ideal customer?
Second is knowing your customers. Most of us would assume that if we make a great product or that if we have an amazing service that everyone is our customer. Wrong. People identify with brands based on how that brand is able to understand those individuals and their lifestyles. Redbull positioned itself not just as an energy drink but as an extreme sports enhancer. They targeted snowboarders, breakdancers, and professional skaters as their ideal customer. Their tag line, “Redbull gives you wings”, performed exceedingly well among their key customers because they understood the symbolism. How well do you know your key customer? What is their lifestyle like? How do you speak their language?
The third is delivering consistent quality service. There is nothing worse than receiving a product or service below expectations. Nothing can drive away sales or customers faster. But when that customer already has consistent or well-informed expectations and they are disappointed, they will never return, and they will tell their friends. Blue Bell ice cream experienced brand disaster when they sold products to the public that ended killing a few people. The company was able to return to the market and save their client base by connecting with them and being transparent about their mistakes and how they were going to correct it.
Think about how your business is in touch with its loyal customers. How well do you know them? How loyal are they? If a similar business came along would your customers stay or jump ship?
“Business Tips” was written by Alejandro Castañon, Business Development Specialist of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact her at Alejandro.Castanon@angelo.edu.