Establishing your small business’ presence in a crowded, digitally led global marketplace can be bewildering and a little overwhelming. There was a time when the right location was everything and if you built it they would come. Those days are over. These days businesses need to be a whole lot more discerning if they’re to coax fickle customers to their business. Many entrepreneurs are aware that their business must stand shoulder to shoulder with giants and compete with big multinational businesses that have the inside track in many ways. With this in mind, they have become increasingly adept at performing feats of marketing gymnastics in order to entice customers to their business whether it has a physical presence or exists solely in the digital realm.
Getting people to notice you in today’s business climate takes a lot of hard work and a particular set of skills and while businesses should be lauded for mastering this art, they must also walk the fine line between attracting new customers and retaining existing customers. Many experts believe that brand loyalty is a thing of the past and that changes in market trends have made customers fickle. Here we’ll look at what has made customers fickle, and how your business can overcome the odds to retain their customers even in an ultra-competitive environment.
Why are customers fickle?
Your customers likely don’t want to see your business fail. They likely have nothing but positive things to say about your business and your product. They leave you great reviews and interact with you on social media… So why aren’t they coming back to you? Understanding the reason behind this will be crucial to overcoming it.
Today’s customers are motivated by a range of factors that depend on their financial and personal circumstances. Some of these are the traditional motivators such as:
- Customer experience
However, nearly a decade of economic recession has shrunk the middle classes and shifted the working classes right down to the breadline. Hence, price has become a more powerful motivator in many customers, but so too has value. Many customers will likely pay more for a product that will last longer or represents greater value in the long term.
In an age where virtually anything we desire can be ours with a few taps of a mobile app, convenience has become a far more powerful motivator. Ideally your business will offer all of the above incentives but without value and convenience, your business may have the outside track in the current business landscape.
Remember Your USP
Entrepreneurs can find themselves so engrossed in the day-to-day operational facets of their business that it can be difficult to remember their Unique Selling Point. Worse still, some businesses may not even know it. Building a brand without a USP is like building a house on a foundation of sand. Remembering your USP will remind you what your business can offer your customers which no competing business can. Putting this at the core of your branding including your content marketing and your social media strategy may well see even the most fickle of customers making their way back to you.
There are a great many ways in which businesses of all sizes can incentivize loyalty. From loyalty stamp cards to service reminder stickers, reminding or enticing customers can return to you can be easy to manage and effective. However, if you’re really serious about retaining customers it may be worth taking a page from the big boys’ playbook.
The taxi giant Uber have pretty much perfected the formula when it comes to using apps to build retention. Customers are incentivized to share the app and encourage friends, family and colleagues to use the service with the prospect of free rides for themselves and those they introduce to the service. Likewise the Starbucks app encourages customers to exclusively use their store by allowing them to load credit directly onto the app for which they get special discounts and a free drink after every 15th purchase.
Build a personal relationship
It’s just business, it ain’t personal. That line may work great for hitmen in ‘90s mob films, but in the increasingly impersonal world of the 21st century, where so many of our transactions are partly or entirely digital, maybe we should be getting personal. If your business has an intimate focus such as baby products or bespoke products, capitalizing on this intimacy is key to maintaining excellent customer retention.
Lending your name and image to your business can make transactions feel more intimate and personal, as can offering customers exclusive and personalized offers based upon their purchase history.
However you choose to retain your custom, don’t let potentially loyal customers slip through your fingers as you chase after new ones.