The Power of Preferential Treatment in Your Small Business
Building customer loyalty is something every business owner strives for. Establishing a company that will remain successful over time means you must attract repeat customers. One-time buyers are valuable but not nearly as much as those who frequently revisit you.
So, what are some ways in which you can build your base of repeat customers? What can you do to help ensure that they keep coming back? There are some basics that I’m sure you’re already thinking of. First, you must offer a high-quality product or service and exceptional customer service. We know that. Let’s talk about some marketing strategies that can set you apart.
We want our customers to feel special. We want them to feel as though they are receiving preferential treatment all of the time. That helps build a trusting relationship; which is key. I sometimes think too many companies offer too many deals to their new, first-time customers. Returning customers should be rewarded just as much, if not more.
Here are some ways in which you can do that.
First of all, it’s crucial to have an email list. All customers should be placed on this contact list (unless they request to be removed). Now, you can regularly and easily communicate with those who have purchased from you before. You can show off new products or sales and contact them at critical times. It also makes you more accessible. They can respond and ask you questions if need be; it helps establish that personal relationship. It’s also an excellent way to send out thank you notes, or customer appreciation information!
If you aren’t on social media, you are missing out on a huge segment of the population. Twitter and Facebook, as well as Instagram, Pinterest and MANY others, are great places to build your audience and your relationships. I often post deals on social media that are exclusive only to those audiences. For instance, Facebook Fans get 10% off on Fridays! It is sometimes difficult to know how many people are seeing your posts. These exclusive specials encourage your fans to subscribe to your updates so that they don’t miss a thing; creating more visibility for all of your posts! Social media is also a great place to build conversation and that trust that we keep talking about.
It’s great to offer incentives to repeat customers. I love my local coffee shop that stamps my card each time I drive through and then on my tenth visit my latte is free! Rewards are a great way to encourage customer loyalty, and they will often make someone choose you over a competitor. Keep it simple and offer something attractive. A gift or a discount after so many visits or so much money spent is a terrific way to go. Adding extra points for referring new customers is a fun twist you can add in too.
First dibs. Each year when I unveil the specials for my Holiday Gift Guide, I gift first dibs to the participants from the year before. Spots are limited, and since they’ve invested in the project before, I feel that it’s only fair. I often offer them a small discount for re-signing as well. This type of preferential treatment is bound to make a client or customer feel special and valued. I know when I receive this kind of treatment it makes me appreciate that business and that relationship. When you can, personalized emails add even more to this gesture.
The key is to make your customers, fans, followers feel special. Giving them exclusive deals and promotions do that. Having loyal customers is invaluable. Not only do they continue to purchase from you, but they also spread the word about your great products and services!
Dawn Berryman is the founder of MarketMommy.com and Market Mommy:: The Blog, online marketing resources for mom entrepreneurs. Market Mommy shows moms how and where to market their businesses. She holds a B.A. from Indiana University and has worked in the marketing/communications field for more than 11 years. She resides in rural Ohio with her husband and three children. For more information, please see: Market Mommy.