Tuesday, March 16, 2010

7 Inexpensive Tactics to Build Brand and Customer Loyalty

Marketing Sherpa reports

How To: Build Brand and Customer Loyalty Through One-to-One Communication: 7 Tactics

SUMMARY: A corporate-style branding effort requires a corporate-sized budget. But if fancy logos and mass advertising aren’t in your budget, you can try building your brand one customer at a time.

Read one marketer’s recommendations for using personal communications to connect with your best customers. Through simple, low-cost tactics, you can build stronger relationships and establish a brand identity that’s more than just an image.

Too many small- and medium-sized businesses get hung up on corporate-style branding because that’s what bigger companies are doing, says George Torok, President, Power Marketing.

"Small and medium businesses would be far better [off] spending the time and money on relationship building, and the brand thing will come out of it by itself," says Torok. "A brand is not about colors or logos or fonts -- a true brand is about a feeling that people have about you."

Torok’s firm helps owners and marketers at small- and medium-sized businesses develop a more personal touch with customers. Below, we highlight seven tactics Torok uses to establish and maintain those relationships. These efforts require time and diligence, but they are very inexpensive.

Tactic #1. Make company leaders available to customers

Smaller companies have an advantage over large corporations -- there are fewer bureaucratic layers between the top and the bottom. Take advantage of the situation and give customers access to top-level management.

Access can be granted in several ways, including:
o Having executives visit sales floors
o Attending industry conferences
o Having an open-door policy for phone calls
o Attending or hosting live chat sessions, forums, or other industry-related social media events

"That doesn’t mean you spend all your time on the showroom floor or going to networking events, but you need to be seen," Torok says. "You put a human face on the business for your clients, which makes them feel better about doing business with you."

- The door is not always open

Maintaining an open-door policy does not mean customers can reach you at will. But it could mean establishing times for customer calls, such as between 9-10 a.m. on Thursdays.

Tactic #2. Reach out and be heard

Customers feel special when you reach out to touch base. This can be done through:
o Direct calls
o Emails
o Social media sites
o Handwritten notes and postcards

Postcards can be particularly valuable as a quick, personal way to reach out. A two sentence handwritten message is much more personal than a typed email. You can send 20 or 30 postcards while waiting for a plane. Postcards are waiting for you in the gift shop.

- Not every customer is equal

There is not enough time in the day to call or write postcards to every customer, just to ask how they’re doing. Prioritize efforts around your most valuable accounts and prospects.

Read the rest of How to Build Brand and Customer Loyalty

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