Marketing is about connecting with consumers. Great marketing is about transforming those consumers into raving fans—people who feel loyalty because they feel invested in your business and its success. Sometimes creating these fans can require creativity and innovation, but the payoff is huge.
Here are six surprising ways to start turning your customers into your biggest fans.
1. Have your clients do some of the work. This isn’t about you being lazy; it’s about involving your clients in a memorable experience. Build-a-Bear is the perfect example of this technique. Over the course of their childhoods, children receive many stuffed animals, but none are as special as the bear they built themselves, selecting the fur color and other components. The consumer’s investment in the experience helps cultivate 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 you value it, and if your customers feel they've 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 their expectations, then making it clear that you’re selective about who you do business with will make you more appealing.
3. 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.
4. Go underground. Throw parties and hold events that are exclusive to members or customers only. The key here is not to throw these celebrations just to thank your existing customers for their business, but to use these exclusive gatherings to earn new business. 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.
5. Create your version of boot camp. Organizations like fraternities and the military create cohesion and loyalty by putting new recruits through a series of tests and challenges. Let your customers know that your business runs differently from others, that you'll require work and dedication from them. They'll soon realize 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 the initiation.
6. Create your own annual event or holiday. Greeting card companies promote the heck out of Mother’s Day, and it's not 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 could host an annual little league home-run derby or maybe your catering company could partner with a DJ and host an annual karaoke contest for all your customers. Whatever you choose, make it a fun, positive association for your business.
It’s no secret that marketing is radically different now than it was even just 10 years ago. We may 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 hard work of promoting your business for you. Creating and nurturing these fans will reward your efforts for years to come.
Read more articles about marketing.
Photos: iStockphoto (2)