How to Create Customers who Really Care

Achieving breakout success as a small business in today’s highly competitive and increasingly complex business world requires exceptional efforts to develop clients and customers who rave about your company, and are willing to tell others. Failing to delight customers is more than a shame – it’s a slow road to business oblivion.

But developing customers who will become true fans of your business – both online and offline – is easier said than done. After all, if it were easy, companies with lots of money would be swimming in happy customers, but that’s not always the case. 

So what's the big secret? Maribeth Kuzmeski, who wrote a book called “And the Clients Went Wild!” (Wiley) argues that in order to get customers to rave about your business, you need to build a strong emotional connection – the same kind that makes someone cheer for a sports team or star athlete. 

"You can get others to connect to your company, product, or service by passionately delivering information that emotionally energizes them," says Kuzmeski. "This is a true differentiator because so few people and businesses act with enthusiasm.”  When someone exhibits real passion about something, we take notice.

Here are some things you can do to generate the kind of passionate following among clients and customers that many other small companies enjoy:

1. Create a distinctive and simple value statement.Happy Customer

A simple marketing message or “value statement” is more easily transmitted without it losing meaning. Ask yourself: What is my business all about? Who are my customers? What is unique about what we offer? Look for what really makes your business different, and how that creates value for your customers.

2. Keep your brand message consistent.

 For example, your website content and e-mail campaigns should be fully incorporated with your offline efforts. All should proclaim a single, clear branding message and design throughout. Use this same message in press releases, social media, brochures and elsewhere.

3. Make each contact have a point and a “wow factor”.

Email, social media, mobile messages and other channels make it easy to stay in touch with customers. But make sure each contact has a clear point. For important clients, make sure there’s always a "next activity" scheduled. Call them, invite them to lunch, e-mail them, or drop a note in the mail. Plan your next contact or appointment with a client during your current one.

4. Find the most compelling benefits of what you offer and focus on them.

Compelling benefits answer the customer question, "Why should I care?" Do you know what your clients truly care about as it relates to your product or service? List benefits based on what your customers, not you, believe is most valuable.   

5. Create surprising offers.

  If you offer something of real value for free, people will listen. "Free" can convert price shoppers into loyal customers. This is the model that online print company Vistaprint uses so effectively.  Vistaprint has long offered free business cards, with a nominal shipping charge. As a result, some two-thirds of Vistaprint's business comes from returning customers who started with a free order.

6. Create a website as unique as your business.

People form an opinion of a website quickly and will decide within seven seconds whether to stay and click on something. Your website design must download quickly, look good (including on mobile devices), and tell users right away what's in it for them.   

7. Call them to action.

Make sure that your marketing messages include a clear and specific call to action. Your audience needs to feel that they are part of a select group that's been chosen to receive a special offer, and they need to be convinced that the sooner they respond, the better. Provide a specific offer such as a coupon or discount, add a sense of urgency, and repeat the offer at least three times in the marketing piece.

8. Become the media.

One of the most powerful ways to gain exposure, increase your credibility, and get people talking is to get media coverage. But you don't have to wait for the media to come to you. You can become the media.  Create your own newsletter, blog or video series. Write your own articles or opinion pieces and submit them to local and industry publications.

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About the Author

Daniel Kehrer, Founder & Managing Director of BizBest Media Corp., is a nationally-known, award-winning expert on small and local business, start-ups, content marketing, entrepreneurship and social media, with an MBA from UCLA/Anderson. Read more of Daniel's tips at www.BizBest.com, follow him at www.twitter.com/140Main and connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/danielkehrer.