Brand Strategy 101: How to build customer loyalty in fickle times
Is it possible to distil twenty years of Brand Strategy into less than 2,000 words? Probably not.
Instead. Here are my personal five key secrets that will help your brand achieve an unreasonable share of your customers’ heart.
Consumers are predictably irrational. They use instinct, intuition and emotion to make the vast majority of decisions. Believing your brand’s advertising will succeed because they’re reasonable, is misplaced. You need unreasonable ideas to win their hearts, to gain their permission, before asking them to dance.
Unreasonable ideas demand attention. They’re exciting, audacious; they are the ones you don’t forget.
Unreasonable Idea # 1. Brand loyalty starts with ‘why’.
Love at first sight happens when your brand starts with ‘why, because customers buy why you do something, not what you do.
1. PERMISSION IS EVERYTHING
Consumers control permission. They’re brand savvy. They kill any hint of a relationship if they sense a whiff of irrelevance, or hard selling. You need to convince your ideal customer why they should care about you; why you are different from all the other brands fighting for their attention.
2. YOUR ‘WHY’ AFFECTS EVERYTHING YOU DO
Knowing your why determines brand style, brand personality and the approach you take at every customer touchpoint.
3. OWN THE CONVERSATION
Starting with ‘what you want to say, what you want to do, what you have to offer’ – that’s kinda obvious to most brands. Consumers are accustomed to the Brand narrative of ‘what’. When you start with why, you can own the conversation and drown out the competition. When consumers align with your purpose, they only have eyes for you.
UNREASONABLE IDEA # 2. Happy customers? It’s about them, not you.
Many brands make the fatal mistake of talking incessantly about themselves. The customer expects you to demonstrate that you care about their needs and understand how they tick.
1. SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM
In the 70’s and 80’s, product and sales-oriented companies flogged their products, because everything was shiny and new. Today, brands must be consumer centric. Brands need to solve consumers problems, give them an advantage or make them feel special. Your brand message is not about you and what you do, it is always about them– and how you can help them.
2. DO MORE THAN YOUR GOOGLES
Research, research, research. Know your customer; what they think, how they feel, how the behave, where they hang out, what they believe in and what matters to them. These insights will guide your brand message. If you know their problems, you can identify with how your product or service will help them.
3. GET THEM RIGHT IN THE FEELS
From your major headline through to the body copy, demonstrate how you understand them. Keep consumers connected to your story by relating to their pain points and explaining how your Brand benefits them. Don’t be lazy and simply write about the features of your product or brand.
UNREASONABLE IDEA # 3. Customer experience. What are they worth?
Before a brand goes to market first ask yourself, what cost are you prepared to invest in order to attract, build and retain a customer relationship?
1. WHAT IS THE COST OF ACQUISITION?
Identify with what the customer objectives are. A conversation? Followed by a store visitation? A positive experience that feels like a perfect first date, that leads to your brand being taken home and living happily ever after? What price do you put on these vital steps to building a lasting relationship with your customer?
2. WHAT INVESTMENT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE TO KEEP THEM ENGAGED?
Brand loyalty means building a long-term relationship with the consumer. Up-selling and cross selling are keys to growing your database, but it takes an ongoing effort to prove you deserve their undivided attention.
3. WHAT IS THE LIFETIME VALUE OF YOUR CUSTOMER?
Consistent relevant engagement is needed to maintain the customer’s lifetime relationship with your brand. This will take time- and money- to implement a long-term strategy that allows customers to WANT to align with you. A brand that stays fresh, authentic and conversation-worthy will be a catalyst for peer to peer advocacy. So, it’s not just about the ‘value of one’, but the opportunity for every customer to become a brand ambassador within their own peer group. What is all this worth to your business? Working this out in advance will influence the value you put on your marketing budgets.
UNREASONABLE IDEA # 4. Customer retention. There’s fortune in the follow up.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s far easier, and less expensive, to warm the heart of a lost lover than writing them off and starting a new romance from scratch.
1. REACTIVATION RESULTS MAY SURPRISE YOU
It’s amazing how forgiving ex customers can be. It may take a little time for their frustrations and emotions to die down, but you are the devil they know, and they remember how much work you put into the relationship in the early days. Whatever it was that made them split, work on a solution to win them back. You may be surprised how easy it is if you’re humble, say sorry and simply ask – what will it take for you to come home?
2. ‘WIN-BACK’ OFFERS NEED TO BE ONE TO ONE
Be very careful offering better deals to customers who have left your brand than the offers you’re advertising to win new customers. It can become a costly mistake, as you may find you’ll have to offer the same ‘WIN-BACK’ deal to your entire database of existing customers. The offer must be stealthy and only ever communicated via one to one marketing channels. The devil is in the detail!
3. IT’S OK TO SAY SORRY
Look at how the world forgave KFC when they ran out of chicken in the UK in 2018. The brand bravely ran full page ads with the headline FCK and supporting body copy that said it’ll never happen again. They won more hearts having cap in hand and being creative than burying their head in the sand pretending it’ll all blow over.
UNREASONABLE IDEA # 5. Customer conversation. Keep it fresh.
Never get lazy and use the same message to one market. Each customer segment deserves a tailored conversation, especially when you’re introducing your brand for the first time.
1. YOU WON’T GET A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
Make it count, be compelling, be single minded. Focus on your objectives and the desired outcome. Don’t expect too much in the first interaction. Asking for their hand in marriage on the first date will have anyone running for the hills, so be careful asking for their credit card details to charge them for something at the first touch point. You want to leave them wanting more.
2. DON’T TELL THEM, SHOW THEM
Lead customers by the hand and make it easy for them. Understand they won’t have much patience if you’re asking them to consider switching internet providers, or even harder a bank! Moving customers through the path to purchase needs flow, no dead ends and be ready to catch them when they fall. Chivalry is not dead when it comes to guiding their decision-making process.
3. RESPECT YOUR AUDIENCE
Your loyal ambassadors deserve to be treated with cotton wool gloves. Nurture and respect their long-standing custom with a conversation that respects how long their relationship has been with your brand. They will applaud your efforts for knowing their name, saying happy birthday when the time is right, or reminding them of their upcoming anniversary. It’s the little things that go a long way.
We live in the age of unreason – an era where change is constant, random and unpredictable. Success for our clients means hitting unreasonable targets with unreasonable budgets (2% growth is easy, 30% growth – now that’s being unreasonable).
We invite you to create an unreasonable goal for us to help you achieve an unreasonable share of your customers’ heart, which is far more powerful than a share of voice or wallet.
Our door is always open to share, create, connect.
Let’s chat anytime between now and nextThursday.