Generating new leads is one of the more important tasks a business has to take care of, especially if that business is involved in marketing. However, all businesses can benefit from turning leads (or new customers in general) into loyal, longtime customers who keep coming back for more. This is the bread and butter of your operation and the better you get at customer retention, the stronger your business is and the longer it is likely to survive and prosper.
At the heart of it, lead generation must be done with an eye towards instilling loyalty. It is important that this goal is sighted in the beginning of the process – or even before you begin – so that your approach to generating leads reflects the goal you have in mind. Believe it or not, many people can feel that in a marketer’s approach and will respond differently depending upon whether they feel they are being pursued for a sale or because the company is planning on doing what it takes to make them happy and keep them around.
We often turn to seasoned experts when we need insight into marketing issues, but it is important to note that fresh and valued perspectives can come from younger marketer’s, too. Often, these younger people have a perspective that is not about upholding years’ worth of defending ideas they have invested in that tie directly to their egos and they have a certain kind of clear sight about things not tainted by past letdowns. They know the markets right now and understand business from a perspective that we may be able to gain from. With that in mind, we reference an insightful post by The Young Entrepreneur Council that appeared on Small Business Trends not long ago. Quoted in the article are a number of inspiring young business leaders who are in the thick of marketing today with their own red-hot companies. Let’s take a look at a selection of core concepts they have mentioned that we feel are well worth taking note of.
Remember: You Profit When Your Customers Do
Most aspects of business are fairly logical and the generating of leads with a focus on loyalty is no exception. If you want people to stick around, you have to make sure they have an incentive to stick around. The best incentive that your customers can have for sticking around is that when they are your customers, they profit. Yes, simplicity strikes again.
It is important to make sure that you are doing what you can to make life better for your customers than before they began purchasing products or services from you. The concept remains the same, and equally important, even if you are not running an Internet Marketing firm that helps your customers earn profits. Profit might be saving them money, it might be saving them time, it could be providing them with any number of benefits. That said, once you have established in their minds that they profit steadily by doing business with you, your own company will flourish. It’s the perfect marriage because both parties benefit and that’s the goal. If you think about it, this is exactly what has made Mike & Troy’s coaching program so successful.
In fact, you might say that this very principle is one of the foundations of the Mike & Troy brand itself. It is interesting to note that even though we, as the founders of Top Marketing Strategies are coming from a place of experience, the vision is shared by up and coming entrepreneurs like Elizabeth Saunders, who wrote:
I believe the best way to increase loyalty is to only offer people what they truly want and need. If someone isn’t the right fit for my company or they no longer need the services, I tell them.
The truth, evidently, is timeless and able to be expressed in different ways. If you have clients who want to buy your services and you know it will be a waste of their money, why not simply inform them of that risk? This is thinking long-term because even if it turns out that you are right and they proceed in buying from you anyway, they will remember that you warned them in advance. You were looking out for their profits and that matters. It could be that later on down the line, their telling someone else that experience is what generates another lead for you, this one being more long-term in nature. After all, clients can still be loyal towards your business even if doing business with you directly is not something they do. Positive word of mouth is still helpful.
Avoid Scripts, Customer Service Must Be Sincere
Small businesses have some major opportunities for coming out ahead of corporations when it comes to customer service. Instead of being hindered by endless policies, they can make it their mission to take care of each customer and turn a lead into a loyal, long-term customer. Many of those from the YEC that spoke up focused on customer service being an essential ingredient to a business today. This makes sense because most of these entrepreneurs are relatively early in their businesses and the smaller size can be used to their advantage. Matt Mickiewicz related a portion of a customer e-mail his company received that read like this:
I really appreciate your thoughtful and professional response. I don’t get that a lot from customer service. Usually, it’s scripted nonsense that makes it seem like I’ve done something wrong. You’ve single-handedly improved my perception tenfold.
This kind of feedback is exactly the kind of response most companies should be looking for, but all too often they are not. From the very first interaction with your team, your customers should be getting better interaction than the competition will ever give them. Toss out those routine scripts, focus on educating those in customer service and tech support to handle situations with intelligence and give them access to management when they need back up for solving customer issues. This is common sense thinking, but all too often it can be overlooked in favor of wowing the customer with the product or aspects of the service. Handle the needs they come to you with directly first and foremost, then go for things they did not specifically request.
Vanessa Nomberg noted:
Customers want to be treated like human beings, not sales figures.
This is the heart of things. We all experience automated sales calls, auto-response emails and all sorts of robotic responses in everyday life. Don’t let your company become handicapped by relying too heavily on automation in the area of customer service. Make sure your employees are well-educated, empathetic people who are going to make others feel good and solve their problems at the same time. This will generate a tidal wave of loyalty over time.
Business is Relationships – Loyalty is a 2 Way Street
Building upon the point above, it is very important in today’s world to remember that loyalty comes when your customers feel they are involved in a relationship with the business. Like any relationship, some interactions will be better than others, but long-term commitment is what you want from them so that is what you have to give them, first. From your earliest marketing efforts to get leads, to the initial interactions and all through the life of that relationship, it is the job of your team to make sure customers enjoy and benefit from all interaction with the company.
Entrepreneur Thursday Bram pointed out:
If the only times you talk to a customer is when you’re getting paid or providing support, you won’t exactly be their favorite person. Creating a broader connection makes you someone that they’ll want to seek out.
He further suggested going so far as to forward useful articles to clients and do other small favors in advance as a courtesy. Perhaps this won’t work for every business model, but the concept is a sound one. When you put the customers first and they are very clear on this, they are bound to respond positively. It is also a way of showing them that you are not just after their money. This is an incredibly powerful and personal way to create value in the business to customer relationship.
Communicate Clearly & Keep Customers Well Informed
If your loyal core of customers are not buying as much as you want them to, think about why this could be. The best customers, as we have covered here on TMS in the past, are those customers who are well-informed because they understand why they should buy what you have to offer. Make sure they are kept up to date on how other customers are using the products and services you offer. Often, an example can clarify and make it easy for a customer to see why they, too, should be taking advantage of something you sell.
Customers respond to leadership and that seems to be something many of these young entrepreneurs understand innately. They realize the power of being someone worth believing in and the power of trust, too. Entrepreneur Steven Le Vine expressed the fact that while honesty is valuable, it is a given and that sincerity is even more valuable. As he put it:
Clients or customers want to look into your eyes and know that you don’t just mean what you say, but you are what you say. They know that everything you do and say is a part of who you are. Because of that, they know they can trust you, and that keeps them loyal.
The value clients receive when they know they are doing business with someone who is exactly what they say they are and who pours all they have into what they do is immeasurable. These types of leaders in business can inspire people and drive forward more businesses than only their own. That is the kind of business person that ends up a raging success and is certainly a goal worth aspiring towards. Clear, sincere communication is the first step.
Surprise Your Best Customers with Rewards
There are very few people who do not love a positive surprise. It is important to differentiate between a ‘surprise‘ and an ‘incentive‘. Using a gift or reward as a lure is not the same as unexpectedly giving someone a thank you they could never have guessed they would get. The more personal you can make those gifts and rewards, the better.
For anyone who has ever signed up to the ‘birthday clubs‘ that many major fast food chains have these days will be familiar with what weak and essentially pointless ‘gifts‘ these restaurants offer their customers. You might get a free small fry with the purchase of a meal or a small-sized free ice cream. While that might be ‘nice’ it is definitely not creating any real loyalty because the cost was so minimal. We can make excuses for those companies by saying with such large customer bases it would be expensive for them to give everyone a free meal on their birthday, but that is simply an excuse.
Don’t fall into the trap of emulating corporations that are busy making gestures of goodwill instead of doing what real, ground level entrepreneurs can do: create earth-shaking impact. Let the sluggish giants of your industry wobble along and, instead, go out there and find a way to win their customers right out from under them. That’s what the members of the YEC would have you do and these are, after all, the future leaders of the market.
Now to Carry This Youthful Inspiration Forward
Hearing from young entrepreneurs who are already tasting success due to hard work and forward thinking is certainly rewarding. Still, what it comes down to is how well you apply these ideas to your own operations. In your experience, have the kinds of approaches mentioned above served your enterprise well? Do you use or not use any of those approaches day-to-day? We’d love to hear from you so do leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
Also, if you have any questions, we invite you to leave a comment, as well. We are here to help as that is the basis of this blog and we will get back to you just as quickly as we can.
Resources Mentioned in this Post
- The Most Important Marketing Lesson: Simplicity Rules– Mastering marketing begins with understanding the basics. When the basics are handled with true elegance, mastery can begin. Lean how simple it is to gain that mastery.
- Mike & Troy’s Insider’s Club – Those who want to make it further in business often benefit from getting direct, hands on help from qualified mentors. This is precisely what the Insider’s Club members have access to. That’s a powerful asset.
- Want More Clients? Put Clients First in Your Marketing Efforts – It sounds simple, but until you see how easy it is to do, you might be missing out on incredible results. Discover what this mindset can do for your business right now.
- Informed Customers Buy More: Using Content to Educate a Target Audience – Learning how to tap into the most lucrative markets is often a matter of strategy and technique. In this article, we show you why your best customers are often those who your company has educated itself at its own expense.
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