Companies invest a lot in expensive advertising campaigns. In 2015, advertising spending rose to $185 billion in the United States. Digital advertising accounted for 28 percent of that, or $52.8 billion.
But the buying behavior of customers has changed significantly. Today, it’s common to see a customer shop for groceries at a discount food store then hop into their Jaguar in the parking lot. People don’t behave as their demographic suggests they should.
This hybrid buying behavior makes it more difficult for marketers to identify target audiences and almost impossible to address their needs effectively.
One possible solution is referral marketing. Under this model, the goal is to reach the customer but also win that customer as a loyal fan. A referral campaign succeeds when customers recommend your goods and services to someone else.
How do you turn customers into raving fans? Here are some tips.
Tailor your product offering
Instead of finding customers for your products, start by finding the right products for your customers. When you know your audience well, you can offer them exactly what they need when they need it.
Rewarding customers with a made-to-order shopping experience makes them feel understood and valued — and you get to target marketing efforts with very little waste.
Nine times out of 10, customers will rave about their buying experience and sing your praises across their networks.
Don’t make promises you cannot keep
In marketing, integrity is the top priority. You won’t win customers as fans — and could make some enemies — if you exaggerate your product, praise a feature not yet developed or deliver a faulty service.
Today’s customers are savvy and will get to the truth quickly. White lies or empty promises are usually met with a bashing on social media. Before you know it, your reputation will have gone up in flames.
Integrity, on the other hand, is usually rewarded by customer loyalty.
Exploit the power of surprise
Modern marketing inspires customers and creates brand loyalty. But too many companies misunderstand what it means to inspire their customers.
Meeting customer expectations — delivering what you said you would deliver when you said you would deliver it — merely satisfies a customer.
To inspire, you need to go beyond satisfaction and create an element of surprise. From handwritten notes to gift certificates or a basket of birthday muffins, an unexpected freebie can go a long way toward reinforcing customer loyalty in a competitive marketplace.
This can boost your marketing efforts when you can’t go toe-to-toe with the big guys on advertising.
Make it painless
Everyone is a customer at some point, and most of us have horror stories about returning a faulty product, getting something fixed or failing to receive a definite answer to a question.
When you not only solve your customers’ problems but also make the process painless, they will walk cheerfully away and tell others about their great experience. Disillusioned customers will tell everyone about their terrible experience. Which would you prefer?
Be prepared to test new waters
The times, they are a-changing, and so are our purchasing habits. Turning the customer group of millennials into fans will require different strategies than those that work for Generation X.
In the race for customers, the company that is brave enough to implement innovative ideas will be a nose ahead. Listen to your customers, respond to feedback and bring clever service and thinking to your marketing strategy. Your customers will love you for it and become your truest fans — and that’s money in the bank for your business.
Dan Natividad, a Stockton native, is a partner at Port City Marketing Solutions along with Kristen Dyke and Erin Diego. Dan can be reached at [email protected].