Cultivating Loyal Customers for Your BusinessAndrew Michaels
December 13, 2010 — 1,328 views
"There are many, many different components that go into your company's advertising campaign. You probably run ads in newspapers, perhaps even in consumer magazines. If you have a relatively large advertising budget, you might record radio ads or, if you are really fortunate, television ads. You probably also send out literature to past customers or prospective customers. All of these components work together towards one goal: getting more customers and, thus, increasing sales.
However, there is one thing - just one overriding secret - that permeates all of these things: giving your customers a positive experience when they walk in the door. If a customer feels like he has had a good experience in your store, he will almost certainly come back. If he perceives his experience as negative, he almost certainly will not come back. So, to cultivate customer loyalty, you absolutely must provide a positive experience for your customers.
So how do you do that? How do you tie all of your advertising into your overall company philosophy in order to build customer loyalty for your product?
Well, first you have to get customers into your store, which is obviously where advertising comes into play. Let's look at a few (often overlooked ways) to generate customer interest.
In the old days - by that I mean about 15 years ago - booklets were a very common form of advertising. Hundreds of companies would publish a booklet monthly or quarterly and distribute it to potential customers. Customers could look through the booklet and, if they found something they liked, either order by mail, by phone, or by coming into the store.
However, with the internet boom, the use of booklets as an advertising medium has declined. Many companies believe that, since customers can visit their website, there is no need for booklet printing. But that is not necessarily the case. There are still many people who do not use the internet for their shopping needs. And, even more than that, there are still situations where booklets could be very profitable. For example, many employees still gather in a break room for lunch during their workday. If there is a booklet sitting on the table in the break room, almost every person who goes in there for break will pick it up and look at it!
Another old advertising gimmick that has fallen out of favor a bit in the past few years is the company newsletter. Print up an informational newsletter, complete with special offers if possible, and distribute it weekly or monthly to keep customers informed. While you can distribute electronically, via email, it is probably still best to do an actual hard copy newsletter printing, because the people you are targeting with these are not that likely to read an emailed newsletter. Make sure your newsletter is a high quality printing, in full color, and is very aesthetically pleasing.
If you effectively use booklet printing and newsletter printing, you should see an increase of people in your place of business. Then, the trick is to give them a positive experience. Here are a few simple, but all too often forgotten, tricks.
If you employ people to work in your store, it is absolutely essential that they are friendly and helpful towards customers. Nothing will give a customer a negative impression of your store - and thereby create an unhappy customer - than having a disinterested, unprofessional looking kid "greeting" them as they enter. Take the time to interview as many candidates as you need to until you find the right kind of people, and invest in paying those good candidates enough to make them want to stay. The cost will be made up in the number of loyal customers you cultivate with your positive employees.
Keep Your Word
Even if your employees are friendly and professional, the customer will still notice if you don't deliver on your promises. Be absolutely certain that whatever you pledged in your ads is adequately carried out in your store. If you promise that everything in the store is 25% off, don't try to sneak in a section that is still regular price. If you promise a $25 rebate with purchase, don't throw in complicated conditions that make it hard for the customer to receive the rebate. Do what you promise to do, and do it as simply as you can. Customers will reward you with repeat business."