Marketing is about connecting with consumers. Great marketing, though, is about transforming those consumers into fans, raving fans – people who feel loyalty, and feel invested in your business and its success. Sometimes creating these fans can require creativity and innovation, but the payoff is huge. Here are some ways to get started converting your customers into your biggest fans.
1. Have your clients do some of the work.
This isn’t about being lazy; it’s about involving your clients in a memorable experience. Build-a-Bear is the perfect example of this technique. Children receive many stuffed animals over the course of their childhoods, but none so special as the bear they built themselves, selecting the fabric and components. The consumer’s investment in the experience cultivates loyalty, and their unique experience can’t be duplicated anywhere else. Offer your clients a way to personalize their experience with you.
2. Reject clients.
It’s human nature to want what you’ve been told you can’t have. The more limited an item or service is, the more we value it, and if your customers feel like they have achieved something by managing to get your attention, for having earned the privilege of spending money with you, they’ll give you a lifetime of loyalty. As long as your product meets or exceeds expectations, then making it clear that you’re selective about who you do business with will make you more appealing.
3. Deny your own existence.
Though now a much more public item, the American Express Black Card was long the subject of curiosity, and the company refused to confirm its existence or answer any questions about the sorts of services the card might offer. Now, customers beg for an invitation for the Black Card, even though it comes with a ridiculously high annual fee. Think about it…customers clamoring to spend money with you? It’s a goal worth working toward. Cultivate the mystery and clients will seek you out.
4. Encourage tattoos.
Extreme? Maybe. Effective? Absolutely! Not only are folks who get logos tattooed on themselves acting as walking advertisements, they’re also absolutely certain to be loyal customers. You can encourage tattoos by creating a cool logo and by cultivating a reputation that’s unique and appealing. Question whether this is practical? Two words: Harley Davidson. For folks with Harley tattoos, the brand isn’t just a commodity; it’s a lifestyle.
5. Go underground.
Throw parties and hold events that are exclusive to members or customers only. The key here is not just to thank your customers for their business, but to use these exclusive gatherings to earn new business as well. Give existing loyal customers the inside track on new products and services at these events, and you’ll create your own little club that gives customers a reason to spend their time attending your events.
6. Create your version of boot camp.
Organizations like fraternities or the military create cohesion and loyalty by putting new recruits through tests and challenges. Let your customers know that your business runs differently than others, that you will require work and dedication from them. They will realize that they’re part of a special group, and they’ll feel invested in promoting your services. Providing code words and emblems of membership makes customers feel like they’re one of the elite, special few who have made it through boot camp.
7. Create an annual event or holiday.
Greeting card companies promote the heck out of Mother’s Day, and it ain’t hard to figure out why. Give your customers something to look forward to and a fun association with your brand. Think about something along the lines of 7-Eleven’s annual July 11th free Slurpee giveaway. Maybe your sporting goods store hosts an annual little league homerun derby or maybe your catering company partners with a DJ and hosts a karaoke contest for all of your customers that year. Whatever you choose, make it a fun, positive association for your business.
It’s no secret that marketing is radically different than it was even ten years ago. We have to work harder to promote our brands, but the potential upside is huge, because devoted, raving fans will take up your banner and do some of the work for you. Creating and nurturing these fans will reward your efforts for years to come.