How are you making your customers or community loyal and true?
I always like to think that I don’t necessarily have many loyalties. I’m not callous, I swear. It’s just that, much of my negotiating power with our vendors comes from not necessarily having a favorite. But as soon as I type that thought, I start thinking about all of the “loyalty” cards I have attached to my travel accounts, key ring, or in my wallet. Anyone who follows my Twitter or Instagram knows that I have a pretty die-hard Southwest habit (they’ve started tweeting back!), I am a loyal and true #OKSTATE grad, and that I have a soft spot for the cheese danish at Starbucks. That being said, I’m not quite as bad as some folks (ahem Apple iPhone users) but I definitely do have preferences.
Relationship marketing capitalizes on loyalties and customer insights, and is meant to garner long term engagement. It’s gotten so powerful that companies are now employing firms like PwC to do social listening, pulling your social media casual thoughts and musings into a database that allows a company’s R&D department to create new programs, products, and services that connect with customers and consumers on a level far beyond “transaction”. Other companies are mining similar data patterns, like Facebook‘s attempt to guess who you are (although they were dead on with their last GrubHub promotion) and Amazon, with their suggested purchase selections.
Even associations and nonprofits aren’t immune, although many don’t have the money to battle at the level PwC, Facebook, or Amazon play at. My current job title is a perfect example of the new world we live in: I don’t just align strategy with the community’s professional goals and objectives, or develop and facilitate workshops and strategic planning exercises that train and educate, I create experiences that foster an environment that encourages innovative ideas and continues to build buy-in so others will be a part of the community.
Forbes, in a May 2013 article, says that emotion is the number one word to remember when developing these relationships. I tend to agree with them. When you have an emotional connection with something, it goes far beyond a normal B2B or B2C relationship. Watch this throwback Proctor and Gamble ad from the Olympics and see what I mean…
I’ll pause and look the other way while you wipe that tear out of your eye 🙂
This ad is a beautiful example of relationship marketing. It tells a story, a story of love, a commitment, of highs and lows, and of some of the emotions that drives us as humans. Like a great ad should have, there’s still an imprint of logos that flurry past at the very last few seconds of that spot, but the emphasis is on the relationships between those children and their moms. The call to action is subtle and more impactful for it.
Most telling, it also gives us insights into the families who not only choose to walk that long path of athleticism, but who choose to PURCHASE Proctor and Gamble products. They’ve done enough research and data collection on their loyal customers to replicate them in an ad that strikes home for those who choose to live a similar lifestyle (dear every parent out there who wants to or currently has or used to have a child playing a sport) but also makes the darn thing approachable enough that it strikes home with parents. It’s not just a GrubHub ad meant to encourage me to purchase. That ad is a call to action for me to imagine myself in that mother’s shoes, and to implicitly give me the tools (ie stuff to do my laundry with for instance) so that I can focus, as a parent, on the things that are important in life.
Is your marketing doing that? Or better question to ask yourself, does your association, company, or nonprofit know enough about your audience that you could put out a series of marketing or content ads, no matter the channel, that would strike so poignantly home? Something that makes them leap up and down and say, “that’s me!” or wipe that tear from their eye? These types of marketing spots don’t take a lot of money to invent and produce; they take innovative approaches getting the people who live inside your communities to tell and share their stories in a way that inspires people to want to be part of your community too.
One of my favorite books, The Loyalty Leap by Bryan Pearson, has the following takeway:
“Customers can only be acquired, churned, and re-activated so many times before they tire of your brand…Emotional loyalty requires that the company motivate the entire organization to use customer data to deliver experiences that are relevant to its customers. Relevance in turn will lead to customer intimacy and, ultimately, emotional loyalty with your brand.”
While broad approaches to marketing and communications can gather a lot of prospects and leads, it takes emotion to hook and keep them. People need more than just stuff; and you likely have the insights inside your email boxes, your social channels where you’re interacting with your people, or even in the responses from fundraising appeals or promotional email ads. Try a slice of vertical marketing and look at the niches that make up your audience and ask yourself, what do we know about them that we can translate the insights we have into better relationships? It might make your sales pipeline a little bit longer, but the stronger engagement power will quite possibly create a life long tribal member rather than a one-off customer.