The following excerpt is from an article written by Mike Michalowicz, CEO of Provendus Group, and published on AMEX's Open Forum. Michalowicz suggests unique, but effective, ways to grab your customers' attention and build continued loyalty with them. Below, we've listed four of his suggestions, which we think are most practical for college stores to implement. Read his full article for even more eccentric ideas!
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 some surprising ways to start turning your customers into your biggest fans.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How do you build loyalty with fans? Share your own ideas with other college stores in the comments section below.