Five Must-Dos to Get Customers For Life
1.) Stop advertising and start innovating. Too often the business owners spend countless hours and dollars on advertising and marketing with very little, if any, return. In order to begin to dominate the market with your product or service, you must first become the innovator. In the 1930s a new brand of bread arrived. It was called Wonder. Wonder became the innovators in bread. Yes, innovators in bread. There are thousands of varieties of bread. How did they innovate something as simple as bread? They were the first to sell sliced bread. In today’s world it seems so simple, but in the 1930s it was innovative and forever changed how bread would be sold. How does your product or service compare to that of your competitors? What could you do to become the innovator in your market and bring customers back again and again?
2.) Create the Purple Cow. If you haven’t already read Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow, get a copy and read it today. Seth refers to creating a purple cow for your company. Americans see thousands of cows every day—black cows, brown cows, spotted cows—and don’t think anything of it. However, if we saw a purple cow we would immediately stop and take notice. We would take pictures, spread it to our friends and family, share it on social media, and probably even call a few reporters to get some pictures for the local paper. What about your product or service has a purple cow effect? What makes your customers want to talk about it, share it, or sneeze it all over everyone they know? A local restaurant offered wine with every meal. They didn’t charge by the glass or by the bottle. They merely had a note with a bottle of wine at each table that said, “Please enjoy the wine with your meal. Just let your server know how many glasses of wine you’ve enjoyed and he or she will add $3.50 per glass to your ticket accordingly.” The reality is their customers may have never ordered wine with their meal. However, since it was right on the table it was easy to enjoy. They also found that most customers, once the bottle was open, wanted to take the entire bottle home and paid for it. In addition, an average bottle of wine cost the owner $7.00. With a $3.50 per glass charge, if the customer said they’d each only had one glass of wine the entire bottle of wine was paid for by the consumer. If they said they had two glasses of wine each the owner made a great profit. And their customers told everyone about it! One of the first questions customers asked when walking in the door was, “Is it true that we can tell you how much wine we have and you’ll only charge us for what we say?”
3.) Define your target market. Americans are bombarded with over 30,000 advertisements and logos a day. Yes, a day! Think about it. Just driving down the interstate you often see thousands in a matter of an hour. Mercedes, Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan, Audi, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Shell, 7-11, Gas-Mart, Wal-Mart, Sony, Bose, XM Radio, Sirius Radio, Samsung, Apple, Mac…the list goes on and on. Turn on the radio, television, or laptop and it’s a blizzard of advertisements. Small business owners can’t compete by simply advertising. However, you can compete if you market directly to your target market. But you must first define who they are. What is their gender? Women are most often the decision-makers in child daycare. Where do they live? Is your product or service available to a certain demographic? How old are they? The geriatric physician should market to a different target audience than a pediatric dentist. What form of media do they use? Does your target audience read the newspaper, use the phone book, research information on Google or Bing, or use social media to make buying decisions? It all goes back to knowing who your potential customers are and then deciding how you will reach them.
4.) Give them a reason to come back. Do you give your existing customers a reason to buy from you again? Something as simple as a loyalty program can be a game-changer for your business. The average consumer will buy from you again if you’ve made them feel important. 68% of customers leave a business because they feel unimportant. How do you make your customers feel important? Do you send thank you cards? Other special occasion cards? Do you give them special treatment such as customer-only private events? How often do you even ask them to buy from you again? Chances are if you provide a good product or service, your customer feels they matter to you and they trust you, they will buy again. Give them just one more reason to buy from you again and you’re sure to get their next purchase. They already know your product or service and like it. They’re already there buying. Give them a special “thank you” or “next visit” offer. They (and you) will be glad you did!
5.) Give them the pickle. In Bob Farrell’s book Give ‘Em the Pickle, he discusses a letter a restaurant owner received from one of his lifelong customers who decided that he would no longer be a patron of his establishment. The reason? The customer asked for a pickle on the side. The server, who was new to the position, stated that he would have to charge him twenty-five cents for the pickle. After several minutes of unsuccessfully trying to explain to the argumentative server that he had never, in 25 years, been charged for a pickle he decided to leave. He also decided at that minute that he would write the owner and make him aware of his decision to not visit his restaurant again. He explained that it wasn’t the cost of the pickle. It was the principal. After 25 years of patronage, he was going to be charged for something that he had always perceived as an added value to his experience at the restaurant. Once the added value was taken away, especially in such a manner, he no longer felt a desire to visit the restaurant for lunch. As business owners, you must know when to give your customer the pickle. You must train your staff to add value to any experience your customers have. A customer-service representative of Zappos received a phone call from a customer who wanted to return a winter coat. It was too large. The Zappos rep asked that she not return the coat in exchange for a smaller size. He asked that she donate it to a local shelter because there were so many people in need, especially in the winter. He also explained that he would ship her a new coat in her size at no additional charge.
That’s giving them the pickle!