In a world where people have endless choices, you might be surprised to find that 90% of consumers report being loyal to brands. People are notorious for sticking with brands they love, even when offered a superior product or lower price from competing companies. Why? Because love is blind. We don’t make buying decisions based on reason — we make them based on how we feel.
So, what’s the secret sauce to making your customers fall in love with your brand? It boils down to identifying with their core needs and values. When you connect with clients on an emotional level, it builds trust, which leads to long-term customers.
When you get a repeat customer, you not only earn additional revenue from another sale, you also see a higher return on investment (ROI). Acquiring a new customer costs about five times more than it does to retain an existing one, so you’re spending less to get that sale while increasing the customer lifetime value of those clients. What’s more, increasing customer retention rates by 5% can boost profits by 25% to 95%.
Your most loyal customers are also your most vocal advocates. When people love something or someone, they want to tell others about it. This word of mouth leads to more brand recognition and generates more referrals, which further stretches the ROI of your marketing dollars and helps your business grow organically.
To understand why people are loyal to brands, it first helps to understand what motivates us. Psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed a theory for understanding this in his famous hierarchy of needs. Each tier builds upon the next, starting with basic survival needs such as food and shelter. The next level addresses psychological needs, like self-esteem and belonging. At the top is self-actualization, in which all your needs are met and you’re able to reach your full potential.
How does this tie into brand loyalty? When customers perceive your product or service as helping them fulfill their needs — particularly those higher up the pyramid — an emotional connection is forged. Aligning your services with your customers’ needs for self-actualization is where true brand loyalty is formed. To do this, you must connect with your target audience on a shared set of values.
Ask yourself: What needs and desires are driving your clients’ purchases? What are their core values or motivators? Let’s consider the example of a homebuyer. Helping them buy a home meets their basic need of shelter, but above that need, they likely want to feel a sense of community or belonging. Take it a step further, and consider they’re a mother or father whose concept of self-actualization involves providing a stable home in which to raise their family.
So, how do you use this information to create an emotional connection with your clients? You’ll need to communicate and demonstrate those shared values through your messaging and customer experience.
Is your image sending the right message to your target audience? Your brand story is your opportunity to tell the world: This is who I am, and this is how I help people. It’s a cohesive narrative that evokes the thoughts and feelings associated with your brand, from your website and social media content, to the look and feel of your logo and branding, to how people talk about you and how you respond to them on review sites. A successful brand story requires authenticity, transparency, and consistency, and it should help your customers see how your vision and values align with their needs.
Need helping crafting your brand story? Download this template.
Of course, it’s not just about what you say; it’s about what you do. Your customer experience will make or break all your other efforts, so it’s essential that your interactions with clients reinforce your messaging and produce the feelings you want to engender.
Demonstrate your value. Are you a specialist in something? Do you have exclusive knowledge or skills that your competitors don’t? Perhaps you’re fluent in three different languages, or you have extensive knowledge of a neighborhood. Or maybe you only operate in a niche market, such as the luxury-home market.
Listen. Your customers should feel like their voice is being heard and that their opinion matters. When you first meet, ask what their specific goals are so you can tailor your services accordingly. Then take time to check in and encourage feedback during and after the sales process. When you do receive feedback, even if it’s negative, respond and thank them for it. And when clients share ideas for improvement, be sure to implement them and let them know when you’ve done so. This reinforces your commitment to your customers and helps them feel valued.
Exceed expectations. Doing the bare minimum or “just enough” results in mediocre outcomes and not very happy clients. You want to delight your customers by going above and beyond what’s expected of you. Always follow through on your promises, and when things outside your control don’t go according to plan, explain why and how you will course-correct. Once you’ve closed the deal, continue treating your clients like VIPs by staying in touch regularly. Send entertaining or educational content, birthday and holiday greetings, and personalized information about how you can help them in the future.
If you aren’t feeling the love from your customers, it’s probably time to take a hard look at the story you’re telling and the experience you’re providing. When you get to the heart of what your customers really need — and find a way to align your services with those needs — you’ll have a recipe to create customers for life.