One frequently overlooked aspect of marketing is the concept of the loyalty program. There are many different types of loyalty programs but I think the most important aspect is all about generating repeat business. This is essential if you want to win in 2012.
As I was thinking about the new year, and all of the businesses (large and small) that I've helped over the past number years - I couldn't help but think about those businesses that do such a fabulous job of getting people to use their services products again and again.
Let's take a look at a local hotel that just opened it's doors a couple of years ago near my home. This hotel is part of a chain and is in an ideal location for out of town guests. As my family plans events we consider and use this hotel for relatives on a pretty regular basis. This hotel is not the only game in town but they do a decent job at a reasonable price and the location is convenient.
Who is your customer?
There are really two separate audiences this hotel is catering to. The first audience is comprised of people like me who are using the hotel to solve a problem. My issue is simple - relatives are coming and we need the space. There aren't a whole lot of options to solving this problem and the hotel is in tune with my needs.
The second audience is the guest themselves. Not only must the hotel recognize my needs as a consumer, but they must ensure that the guest who stays at the hotel has everything they need to guarantee a pleasant stay.
Now you might be saying that the first audience is more important to the hotel. And I would agree that your biggest customers - those who purchase often - are definitely important. I'd also like to suggest that the second audience, the guest, is equally important because by delivering exceptional service there are many additional benefits to be gained.
Businesses will win or lose based on word-of-mouth marketing.
Whether it's social media or face to face interactions, we like to talk about our experiences. In this example, the guest, is going to have an experience at the hotel. If it's okay, they'll move on and probably won't even remember the name of the hotel. If the experience is good, they may call me at some point in the future and say, "What was the name of that hotel we stayed at when we came to visit?" If the experience was exceptional, they'll not only remember the name of the hotel but recommend it to others and/or select it as their first choice each time they come to visit.
As you can see, getting new customers is only half the battle. Once you have a customer, it's important to exceed expectations. This is the best way to grow your business. That is, unless you have millions to send on advertising. Even so, if you want to make the most of your marketing dollars, you must focus on creating an amazing experience to build referrals and repeat business.
The businesses, large and small, who do this on a consistent basis are winning, and winning big. This is why I frequent the stores I do and I'm sure it's a large reason why you keep going back to many of the same retailers, websites, or other businesses that you interact with on a daily basis. Sometimes your purchases are driven out of convenience but I would suggest that your repeat purchases are based on a positive user experience.