A constant theme of my blogs is turning customers into loyal customers into brand advocates, so it's probably best to start here and explain what I mean by these three categories-
This is simply people who buy something in your shop. They may be passing by and see something in the window, they may be a visitor to your town and come in to have a look around. They may shop with you once and never again. This doesn't mean that these customers are unimportant. You will need one-off customers and irregular visitors to help your sales. They can be attracted to your door by promotions, a great window display or word of mouth. However they arrive is unimportant. The fact that they got to you gives you a chance to impress them and get them coming back time and again. This turns them into the next level, the loyal customer.
A loyal customer is one that chooses you over another. You may have one or more stores in your town that sell the same thing but your loyal customer will buy from you over your competitors. You can create loyalty with price, promotion or excellent customer service as well as other means. Supermarkets in particular fight for loyalty and this has sparked the loyalty card and the price matching over the years. A loyal customer will return to you over and over again unless something happens in their relationship with you to break the loyalty. It's a well-worn phrase that it costs so much more to win a new customer than to keep an existing one and that's the relationship that loyalty projects attempt to protect. Many businesses stop here. Having a band of loyal customers spending good money with you in a regular basis, plus the odd infrequent customer can be a lucrative proposition. But I propose looking to the next step.
And I strongly believe that brand advocates are the next step for a retailer to increase success, and in a more interesting way. The ways in which you can achieve this will be the subject is the second part of this topic and my next blog entry. Today I'll describe what a brand advocate is and the effect they can have on your business. A brand advocate is someone who goes out of their way to tell other people about you. It may be one of several ways of doing this-
- Bringing their friends into your store
- Talking about you on their blog
- Positive social media comments about you
- Telling people face-to-face about how great you are
The brand advocate is a marketing tool that you can rely on to bring you more business and all it costs is a great relationship with them. Having several brand advocates starts the cycle off again for the next set of customers. They arrive at your doorstep because of a brand advocate, and you will hopefully turn them into loyal customers and the next brand advocates. How you start this relationship and maintain it can be interesting and fun, and we will take a look at that in the next blog.