Attract Loyal Customers By Creating A Magnetic Brand

Brand loyalty doesn't happen by accident. Brands that cultivate loyalty find ways to emotionally connect with their customers; these brands stand for something meaningful in their customers' eyes.

How do you create and establish a successful brand that brings loyal, profitable customers to your door?

1) Build your business around your best customers instead of trying to aimlessly drive sales. Over time, your return on marketing and innovation efforts will rise. Apple is masterful at creating products especially for customers who love style, creativity, and simplicity.

2) Listen to what your best customers are telling you. Don't be a transaction-making machine. Be a real person and build a business to serve real people. This is the key to cultivating customer loyalty. Southwest Airlines isn't just another airline to its loyal customers who perceive Southwest as the "heart of the sky."

3) Focus on what your brand does best. If you try to be all things to all people, you'll end up being nothing to everyone. Be bold. Be unique. Differentiate your brand around your strengths. Ritz Carlton is a hotel of ladies and gentleman serving ladies and gentleman. Volkswagen Beetle has built a distinctive brand around a special little car.

4) Understand what makes your customers tick. Learn how they think, feel, and behave towards your brand. This isn't easy, but if you can decode these drivers, you'll be better positioned to create long-term customers. Talk to your customers. Read their comments about you and your products on the web. Read blog posts related to your brand. Most of all, truly listen to what your customers are saying.

5) Identify your customers' drivers of choice. Why are your current customers buying from you instead of your competitors? Knowing the answer to this question can define the future of your enterprise. Understanding drivers of choice isn't easy because you need to decode the conscious and unconscious motivators influencing your customers' buying decisions.

6) Be relentless in serving your best customers better than anyone else. Give them plenty of reasons to stay with you and no reasons to leave. Push your business to continually find ways to make your customers' lives easier and better. Brands like Amazon.com and Netflix are constantly finding ways to enhance the customer experience by refining algorithms to recommend products and movies the customer will enjoy.

7) Find ways to wow and surprise your best customers. Do something extraordinary and unexpected for them. Instead of playing with "word-of-mouth marketing" programs, focus on better serving your customers and word of mouth will happen naturally. Online retailer Zappos is masterful at producing the wow factor by providing free, surprise upgrades to overnight delivery, random gifts, and hand-written notes to their customers.

8) Determine what your brand stands for and deliver on your promise. You must become relentless in your dedication to deliver on your brand promise each and every day. Harley-Davidson customers love the freedom of the open road and the brand promises that freedom. Oprah stands for empowerment, hope, and the promise of a better tomorrow.

9) Build a brand model that identifies the psychological motivators, key characteristics, and emotional connections your customers have with you. An effective brand model will describe your customers' mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors toward your brand. Every successful brand has some form of a brand model. Major brands go through formal processes to construct their brand models.

10) Use your brand model to make all business decisions. An effective brand model accurately predicts customer behavior because the model takes into account the psychological drivers of your customers. If your new ad doesn't hit on what's important to your customers, don't run it. If you're innovating in a direction that isn't relevant to your brand lovers, change directions. An effective brand model removes the guesswork in building a magnetic brand that attracts more loyal customers.

Most businesses struggle because they don't identify whom their business is especially for. Market research and focus groups don't provide the answers because 90% of consumer behavior is unconscious. Customers rarely articulate their true motivations even when directly questioned -- people simply cannot describe why they really do what they do.

Your job as an entrepreneur, brand manager or chief marketing executive is to figure out what motivates your best customers. You need psychological insights into the motivations behind your customers' behaviors -- how they think and feel about your brand. These consumer insights will provide the business lens needed to evaluate marketing strategies, advertising campaigns, and product innovations.

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2 comments about "Attract Loyal Customers By Creating A Magnetic Brand".
  1. Michael Rubin from Fifth Third Bank , December 23, 2009 at 8:35 a.m.

    "7) Find ways to wow and surprise your best customers. Do something extraordinary and unexpected for them. Instead of playing with 'word-of-mouth marketing' programs, focus on better serving your customers and word of mouth will happen naturally."

    BJ, your advice is good all around, but you do a mighty disservice with your snide dismissal of word of mouth marketing. While consumers are more likely to recommend companies that surprise and wow them, the reality is that they still need encouraging now and then. Too many people believe that WOM happens by magic. What appears to happen naturally is often part of an orchestrated attempt to make sure that the brand is top-of-mind at the moment of conversation.

    Even Zappos, which you rightly praise to the hilt, didn't just magically create WOM out of thin air. Those tactics that you mention are indeed tactics that had to be thought out and implemented. Those customer service staffers that you rightly praise are trained to be nice and stun customers into loyalty.

    All of that happens as part of a word of mouth marketing program. Next time, don't be so quick to dismiss what is working well.

    Disclosure: I work in a WOMM department and used to work for WOMMA. This is my own opinion.

  2. Mark Price from M Squared Group, Inc. , December 31, 2009 at 2:46 p.m.

    BJ: Thank you for this excellent article on building a Best Customer-focused enterprise. It is refreshing to see such a clean focus on the customer segment that is so important to sustaining and growing the business.

    One idea -- you mentioned listening to your Best Customers. I agree completely. It is helpful to build some mechanisms to establish a relationship and obtain feedback from those customers. For example, you can create Bet Customer events and ask customers to evaluate new products on site. In addition, you can set up a web forum where you can engage with Best Customers about their passions and about what they would wish from your brand and to meet their needs in general. In these ways, you can cement relationships and gain the valuable feedback at the same time.