Customers Are Coming Back
Written by CMG News Contributor, Doug Carleton
How Are You Going to Keep Them?
The economy is recovering faster than many people thought it would – notwithstanding last week’s jobs report, which was most likely an aberration. People want to make up for things that they have been holding back from spending on for many reasons, and now they are starting to spend. Sales of things like dressier everyday wear are increasing. Sales of loungewear and pajamas are declining. But in many cases, the customer you had before the shutdown is not the same one that is coming back. Crises such as the pandemic often lead people to find new ways to do things and adapt. In this case, the digital revolution leading to massive increases in online shopping has made that abundantly clear. One of the ways things have changed has been to give people the ability to “shop around” from their computers or phones, and as I mentioned last week, to look at the same products or services sold by other companies that you sell. They will probably stay your customers, but now they will be online and in your place of business. So keeping your customers loyal to you in this digital age becomes even more vital because you frequently may not be able to interact as much with them in person. So here are just a few thoughts for your consideration.
Do you interact with your customers on more than just a transactional level – aside from just making transactions seamless and easy? Many studies indicate that consumers are also getting more interested in a company’s values that they might share. Are those values recognizable to your customers?
Do you use rewards of any kind? Can they be specifically targeted to particular customers? Do you have customer data that would allow you to do that? Can it be personalized?
Is there any environmental or social impact on your brand or product? If so, promote it.
Is what you sell locally produced or manufactured (locally could be stretched to include made in the USA)? Locally grown or sourced is becoming much more important, especially to younger consumers.
These are some questions that scratch the surface of the concept of loyalty marketing. The importance of customer loyalty has always been a given. Still, the data that businesses can generate about everybody (such as your customers) has taken on much more importance and, in many cases, difficulties in execution. There is a rapidly growing body of literature on loyalty marketing. It would help if you considered studying it. You might pick up just one little nugget that could lead you to something to dramatically increase your sales in the future and make those customers and others come to you.
This blog entry is a slightly edited excerpt from Doug Carleton's 'The Daily Life Of A Small Business Owner' series. Doug was a mentor with SCORE, Startup Virginia, and Lighthouse Labs, and has 25+ years of experience in small business finance including 12 years in SBA lending. To contact Doug directly, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.