Last week I posted a mini bootcamp, which included building your brand pyramid and maintaining a strong brand. These posts focused on things you can do to build a framework for your brand and what you can do to ensure it stays intact.
Business Challenge: Building brand loyalty
But after you have those things down, which you may already if you’ve been around for a while, what steps can you take to ensure you’re building a brand that people will love – a brand that people will be loyal to?
I’m glad you asked.
Let’s first define what I mean when I say brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is when your customers turn to you for resources, help, products, services, anything before they even think about going to any of your competitors. Brand loyalty is when your customers recommend your brand to their friends because they trust you and the products and services that you offer. Brand loyalty is a customer talking highly about your brand when they aren’t being prompted to do so.
I like to think of the actual process of building brand loyalty as a marathon – not a sprint. As with most things that happen in the world of an entrepreneur, it’s not about how quickly you can finish. It’s about making sure you take action to get yourself to the next step, and then the next one, and then the next one.
Brand loyalty is not something you can rush, especially if your brand is young. But you can follow some pretty simple steps to make sure you’re on the right path to building a brand that people will love. Here they are:
Get your employees on board
Even if you’re a solopreneur, this applies to you, too. Ensure that you and your employees (if applicable) know and understand what your brand stands for, are on board with that, and feel as though they are an active part of the brand itself. How?…
Equip your employees with the information, resources and knowledge they need about your brand. Once you’ve done that, rally around them and get them pumped up and excited about what it is that your brand stands for. Are you all about inspiring people and motivating them to build a business that will one day afford them the freedom they’ve always dreamed of? Uummm, that’s awesome. Who wouldn’t be excited about that?!
Once you and your employees are on board, they’ll be excited to contribute to the brand in a positive way and talk about you every chance they get.
Get your customers on board
Do your customers see your brand the same way that you do? It’s important to be sure you’re on the same page, because if your customers think one way about your brand, and you’re preaching something totally different about your brand, then it’s going to be pretty difficult to build brand loyalty.
Ever heard the term “Brand Advocate”? It essentially defines a person who not only understands and is willing to represent your brand, but who will speak highly of it, recommend it, and sell it for you. Customers who find value in the products and services you provide are oftentimes those who can be considered brand advocates. When you provide value to your customers through your brand, they’re more than happy to recommend you to others who might find the same value in your brand that they do.
In today’s social-centric universe, online communities are becoming more and more prevalent. Having brand advocates is a very effective way to market your brand and be top-of-mind – at almost no monetary cost to you. Treat every customer interaction as if it were the only interaction you have to win over that customer – even if it’s the 20th time you’ve spoken to them. Having brand advocates is truly priceless in business these days.
Continue to build trust through consistency and transparency
Trust is so, so, so, so, so, so key. There are several ways you can go about building trust with your customers, and one way is through consistency.
Prove to your customers that you are going to do what you say you’ll do.
Example: If you’re opening a restaurant and you promise that every time someone walks through the door they will be greeted with a smile and a secret handshake, then you better make sure that happens every single time.
A completely different example: if you have an opt-in page on your website that says “Sign up for our email list and receive a 2-part course on building your audience free!”, then when that person signs up, you better be sending them that 2-part course for free.
Starting a podcast that you’ve promised will come out every Wednesday? You’ve got it: be sure that podcast is out every single Wednesday.
Always be consistent.
If someone orders something through your website, and they receive this amazing email with a personal thank you note from you, and then a follow-up email a week later to see how the product is working out for them, then they’re probably going to expect that consistent, stellar customer service from you in the future. Being consistent with your service and the value that you provide will help you build trust with your customers.
No one likes a liar, and secrets don’t make friends. Let your customers in on what’s going on behind the curtain. Don’t make them feel left out of your brand, and don’t make them feel as though they have to guess at what you’re trying to pull over there in that studio of yours.
If you can make your customers feel as though they’re a part of your business – like maybe they know about a certain way you run your marketing campaigns, or the way you have a particular system set up, then they’re going to feel as though they have a special connection with you.
You’ve shared something with them that maybe not everyone knows about, and this can also build trust. Your customers will start to trust you because they know you’re not trying to hide anything.
Building brand loyalty will not happen overnight. The obvious: you have to have an audience in order to build brand loyalty, so if you’re just starting out, then don’t think that you’ve missed all these important steps along the way.
You are creating an amazing business that is going to provide amazing value to your audience. Continue doing what you’re doing with as much passion and drive and motivation as possible, stay true to your authentic self, and you’ll gain loyal followers who love your brand.