If you are not constantly growing your customer base, you are losing it. Satisfied customers, singing your praises to their friends, neighbors, co-workers and family, are the most cost-effective way to attract new customers.
Building customer loyalty is multifaceted. Here are just a few reasons why your customers will be loyal to your company and its products:
1. Value. Even when you have excellent quality and affordable pricing, it’s the perception of quality that can make the difference. Be sure your product looks valuable from the shelf.
2. Service. Your product is not judged so much by how well it does when it performs, but by how well your company performs when your product does not. Don’t just give “complainers” their money back, give them more products, and show them that you and your product can perform.
3. Appreciation. Gary Vaynerchuk, in his book “The Thank You Economy,” stresses the importance of showing appreciation to your customers for buying your product. He recommends random, personalized thank you notes given without expectation.
4. Relevance. As the market changes and your customers’ needs change, your product must keep pace or it will be left in the dust. Keep an eye on the competition and the ways the market is being redefined.
5. Accessibility. If it’s out of stock, they can’t buy it, won’t complain, and will simply buy your competitor’s product. If it’s good enough, they may never go back even when your product is in stock. Your loyal customers blame you for the behavior your retailer, distributor, and any middlemen who let your product run out.
6. Validation. Third party accolades are not just to attract new customers, but to retain existing ones. Everyone wants validation for their decisions. When they see that a famous person is using “their” brand or when they see it win a competition, they have bragging rights.
7. Dependability. When your customer first buys your product, they have an expectation of performance, which, if realized, makes them more likely to buy it again. Your brand makes them a promise that they will get the same quality every time they buy it. Don’t break the promise!
8. Responsibility. How your company treats its employees, the community, and the planet has a big effect on customer loyalty. People now realize that they are voting with their money. Make sure that when they “vote” for your product, they will be proud.
9. History. Having a history of selling your product is a double-edged sword. Any unresolved glitch in performance or service will be seen by buyers as your product “going down hill.” They have been with your product so long they know what you used to produce.
10. Consideration. Give your customers a financial reason to stay with your product. Loyalty programs that give points, coupons, rewards, or upgrades against future purchases can create a powerful consideration to remain loyal.
Building customer loyalty requires consistent delivery of value over time. It takes a comprehensive view of what motivates your customer to buy your product and stick with it.
It’s not a vaccination, it’s an ongoing process. Your customer is only as loyal as his last experience with your product. Give your loyal customers good reasons to say, “That’s my product and I’m stickin’ to it!”
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders