Creating Consumer Loyalty: Make Relationships the Center of Your Universe

Written by Talk Local Co-Founder, Manpreet Singh

Creating Consumer Loyalty: Make Relationships the Center of Your Universe - Small Business Advice

Have you ever heard of a “Rogue Planet?” It’s a planet that, due to some catastrophic space event, got thrown out of it’s orbit and flung into interstellar space. It passes through galaxies with maybe a sun or other massive object slightly curving its trajectory. But ultimately, until a start of sufficient force draws it in, the planet will wander aimlessly through the cosmos.

Most small business owners would have a hard time convincing themselves that they are stars at the center of their customer’s hectic galaxy. After all, successful entrepreneurs see customer service and — by extension — customers as the most central. Yet,  just as the sun performs a valuable service to it’s surrounding galactic community, an SMB is also central.

And while not every small business is strong enough to keep its local market in orbit, the good news is that the attraction is not a function of mass or size. It’s a matter of effort.

Here are 4 tricks for keeping past customers gravitating toward your small business, creating consumer loyalty:

Learn About Your Customers

Customers love being greeted by name, having their needs anticipated, and receiving thoughtful, personal attention. Major companies have Customer Relationship Management software to store and retrieve customer intelligence. But, even if you use an Excel spreadsheet and a Google Calendar to keep notes on customer interactions, it’s worth it.  It not only improves their experience, but also helps you discover and seize new sales opportunities.

So, learn, ask questions, take notes, and pepper your conversations with details about family and recent life events. Above all, remember their previous professional inquiry to avoid redundancy. The personal attention each customer gets from repeat business with a well-informed business is something which they can’t possibly attain by sending their business elsewhere.

Make Outreach Personal

A birthday wish, a congratulatory message, or note of appreciation is always welcome… even from a marketer. And crafting personalized messages doesn’t mean you’ll end up sending a hundred emails per day. Collect the birth months of as many of your customers as possible. Once you’ve created email lists based on the month of birth, you only have to send 12 extra emails per year. Event planners, for example, may want to congratulate newly-weds on the anniversary of their weddings. Mechanics may want to send service reminders.

Just schedule an email delivery in advance using an e-card or e-newsletter service. Build from a template and add personal details about the customer’s experience while the memory is fresh. And, add the event to the calendar and review it regularly to ensure that customers feel memorable if they call in to redeem any offers.

Design a Loyalty Program

No incentive will compensate for poor service or products. However, giving customers a reason to remember you now that their needs are satisfied will make it easier for them to remember you when they have further need. A spa may add a free facial after the 5th massage or a gym may reward regular attendance. Just ensure that your program is designed with a reliable tracking method that puts customers in charge of the process. Also, ensure that the benefits outweigh the cost.

Leverage Social Media

If customers are using social media to stay connected to glue-sniffer who painted trees purple and love-tapped them in 1st grade, surely they can use social media to stay connected to a painter who beautified their 1st home. Get customers involved by marketing your social media pages right from the store-front and at the website too.

You may find it so valuable that you’ll want to offer discounts for customers who like you on Facebook. But, blasting promotional offers at followers all day is no way to build relationships. Instead, spend most of your efforts seeking to add value with interesting information and entertainment. Here are some tips on effective social media marketing.

Creating Consumer Loyalty

As our planet shrinks, consumer choice and access expands. So, technological advancement has been an event catastrophic enough to send many consumers adrift. It’s up to small businesses to draw these orphans back into orbit within their communities. It takes hard work, but it beats the cost of advertising.

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