As a small business owner, brand loyalty is definitely a topic that should be at the forefront of your marketing plans. We are in an economy where many consumers make choices based on price. We are also in an economy where consumers want immediate access to the items they want to buy. As a result they will buy things based on convenience and speed (think Amazon Prime) not necessarily because it is their favorite place to shop.
As a small business owner, you may find it hard to compete with the “Amazons” in your industry. In fact, some experts say the concept of brand loyalty is dying because of how consumer shopping habits have changed, but I disagree. You can use the concept of brand loyalty to help carve a niche for yourself in your industry.
What is brand loyalty?
Brand loyalty is when a customer favors one brand over another and buys from that brand repeatedly. This means the brand has done a good job of delivering something to the customer that they feel they can’t get anywhere else. This could be anything from the quality of the product or service to the level of customer service they receive. Brand loyalty could also be a result of brand recognition. Many well-known brands (think Nike, McDonald’s, etc.) have repeat customers because people know who they are and what they can expect when buying from that business. Ultimately brand loyalty translates in to long-term, repeat customers which can help fuel a sustainable business.
Creating Brand Loyalty
So, when you don’t have an endless advertising budget to raise brand awareness and when you’re offering the same service as a business down the street, how do you go about creating brand loyalty? It’s pretty simple actually. Here’s 3 ways you can start creating brand loyalty for your small business NOW!
- Compete on customer service – I don’t care what industry you’re in; food, service, retail, whatever, providing exceptional customer service is one of the best way to build brand loyalty. While there will always be people that prefer larger, nationwide retailers and service providers, there are a lot of people that prefer to shop local. If you give them a reason to stick with you, they will. For the most part, aside from your staff, providing exceptional customer service is relatively cheap. Take a look at your customer service practices and start looking at how you can exceed your competitors in this area.
- Give your customers something – People love free stuff. If you give me something for free, you better believe I’ll be thinking about you the next time I need your services. That said, start thinking about something that is low cost that you could give your clients on occasion. If you run a salon and you have a customer that consistently spends hundreds of dollars on their hair, offer them a complimentary brow wax the next time they are in. If you work in a retail store, the next time a good customer comes in, offer them some free samples.
- Talk to them – Talk to them online and in person when you can. Send emails. Update your Facebook page. Send them a Happy Birthday message. Get your communications in place so you can consistently talk with your customers. I don’t know about you but Amazon didn’t remember my birthday this year and I’m a Prime member! (That’s ok Amazon, I still love you and my Prime membership).
The concept of brand loyalty is not dead, it’s just changed. As you can see, there are a number of things you can do to build your brand and get some loyal customers behind it. Take a look at your business and decide what you can do to set yourself apart from your competitors, then act on it consistently. I bet you start to notice some repeat customers coming in before you know it!
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