It’s February, the month traditionally celebrating love and friendship.
Most people agree that love starts with an attraction. Although attraction is spontaneous and emotional, and sometimes even involuntary, the real key to nurturing love in a relationship is through listening, sharing experiences together, and building trust.
So, what’s love got to do with business? A lot actually.
Businesses are discovering that genuine customer love is the most powerful kind of marketing. They are learning to actively listen, to obsess over customer experience, to treat people like people, to value values, to give back to the community—to be nice.
Virgin Airlines, Ritz Carlton, and Zappos, to name a few, are known for their laser focus on the customer experience.
So how do you attract and woo your customers?
As John Maxwell says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know you how much you care.” Show your customers you care, and they’ll appreciate you, talk about you, and buy from you.
Content marketing is one way to show your customers you care.
People, especially Millenials, distrust advertising and hate being sold to, but they love to share engaging content that is also valued by others in their community. If it’s a really good lesson, they’ll stick around for more.
As my sagacious friend Melanie Spring from Sisarina succinctly puts it, it’s not B to B, B to C or B to G, it’s H to H--Human to Human. We all want to be treated like people, not another number or a sale.
Nowadays, we have more choices than ever before. There are few reasons to remain loyal to any business, unless you stand out.
Here are 5 rules to keep in mind when cultivating customer love.
Rule #1: Focus on the customer experience first through responsiveness and consistency.
Everyone you meet and interact with should get fantastic treatment and respect (even when you think you can’t do business with them). This includes customers, prospects, partners, vendors, job candidates, fans, and strangers. You never know who is watching and consistency brings customers back for more.
Additionally, when customers take the time to tell you how they feel about your organization, product or service, take action, remove barriers, and adjust. Are you making changes based on customer feedback?
Rule #2: Be authentic and make your customer the hero of your story.
Although authenticity and storytelling have been talked about ad nauseam, they are still applicable because they work.
A great example is the Always #LikeaGirl Super Bowl ad championing women empowerment. Fama Francisco, vice president of Global Always said in a statement. “We feel so strongly about this, that we [took] this message to a bigger stage, the Super Bowl, so even more people can join us to champion girls’ confidence and change the meaning of ‘like a girl’ from an insult into something positive and amazing.”
Nowhere in the Always ad did they talk about their product. They kept the message on the cause and their target audience, not on their product. Memorable and brilliant.
Rule #3: Be present and relevant.
Get into their world. Participate in the form of communication your customer wants to consume your content in, i.e. photos, videos, podcasts, etc.
Rule #4: Seal it with a K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Smarty).
To get people to talk about your stuff, don’t ask them to remember or explain long complicated messages. Instead, make it easy for them by condensing your value proposition into a quick sound bite they can say in one sentence to their friends.
Rule #5: Amplify the reach of your brand message by tapping into influencer marketing.
You don’t have to do it alone. Influencers are people who have a large loyal base of readers and followers on their blogs and social media channels who talk to your customers already. They don’t have to be famous, just passionate, opinionated, and inquisitive about something you already align with.
Bottom line: Customer love takes time but it’s so worth the investment.
Be committed to putting customers at the center of your organization, captivating their love by intently listening and responding to their needs, and earning their trust through cumulative “wow” experiences. Play to the heart to help create and intensify a fabulous brand experience that customers will cherish and remember. In due time, you’ll reap the rewards of your labor of love from the relationships you’ve worked so hard to build.