Congratulations! You have a great product or service, you have a good price point, and you are seeing some return customers. Yay, customer loyalty! Now is a great time to start working on your brand loyalty.
…Wait, what? Aren’t they the same thing?
No my friend, they are not. Customer loyalty and brand loyalty are actually different in some vital ways. Customer loyalty is a great thing to have, but it can be fleeting. We have all seen companies suffer when consumers decide to move on to different stores thanks to lower prices, bigger selection, or more coupons. However, if you have brand loyalty from your customers then the changing winds of the market will not blow your business off course.
First thing’s first. What is the real difference between customer loyalty and brand loyalty? A simple way to describe it may be to compare it to your brain and your heart. Yes, your brain makes decisions based on numbers, solid facts, etc. But, you heart makes decisions based on feelings. When customers are loyal to your brand it is because they see beyond just price tags and sales. They feel connected to it in some way.
This example situation might paint a better picture: If you are out of town and need to stop at a restaurant, will you go out of your way to eat at a specific place even if it’s not the closest or cheapest option? Some of the reasons why you might bypass a comparable restaurant could be your level of loyalty to that specific brand. Maybe you have always had a great experience, or you support the choices the company has made.
Everyone is looking to save a dollar here and there, downloading coupon apps, and scouring the internet for the best prices. This means that it becomes difficult for brick-and-mortar business to compete. However, it is not impossible. Here are a few tips that can help you get on the right path:
Quality, Value, and Quality Again
As common as today’s consumers are with finding the lowest prices, they are also familiar that many times it comes at the cost of quality which is notorious in big-box stores. Be the exception to that rule. It is so difficult for anyone to find quality products or services that a value, that when they do it’s all they can talk about. Word of mouth can be your best friend (or worst enemy).
Engage and Listen
Remember that every customer is more than a nameless transaction, he or she is a real live person. Let’s try to get back in the habit of human interaction and enjoying it. Have real conversations that go beyond the latest product or service you offer. Also, while interacting with customers be sure to listen to any feedback you receive. Whether a compliment or criticism, every review of your business is an opportunity to be even better.
Don’t get comfortable
This ties in a bit with engagement and listening. Times they are a changing, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Be aware of trends and competition to be sure that you are still marketing to the right crowd in the right way, whether it’s email blasts, flyers, or wearing a mascot suite on nice days. There is no such thing as perfection, but if stay relevant to your market and adjust you get pretty darn close.
Here are some good questions to ask yourself if you are unsure where you land with your brand:
- Do you make consumers feel welcome?
- Do you have a good reputation in the community?
- Is your service and quality superior to your competitors?
- What sets your business apart from those competitors?
Hopefully this has gotten those creative juices flowing to build the loyalty of your brand. Don’t be afraid to be the “extra” between ordinary an extraordinary!