Marketing messages and competition is high every holiday season, and customers have a lot of choices on where to spend their dollars. Cutting through the clutter with solid messaging and offers is crucial in building relationships and developing strong brand loyalists. How you do this can result in fans doing your marketing for you and staying loyal due to the extra effort put forth.
But how do you begin building customer loyalty over the holidays? In a nutshell, make your customers life easier.
It’s not that hard, really. I’m loyal to the brands who can effectively turn their marketing into a value proposition; messaging and calls-to-action that resonate with my busy schedule and solve my problems. Not theirs.
For Your Existing Fans
This group has been loyal and stuck by you all year. Listen, reward and react. What do they want and need from you this holiday season?
Early information. Reveal holiday offers or specials first on Facebook or via email. Tell your fans what’s in stock. Help people navigate and find the hot products this season, and help them figure out how they can make it theirs. For example, if there will be limited quantities let them know so they can plan to line up early.
Fan-only specials. Offer complimentary gift wrapping or shipping deals. Reward frequent shoppers with early access to sales.
A company that listens (and responds!). During busy times, many companies bulk up staff in obvious positions: in-store employees, call center and customer service. Remember that your social media team plays a huge role in this too! Weekend and evening coverage can make a huge difference in customer experience, especially during hot sales and last-minute holiday shopping.
Learn from last year. After 2011’s Black Friday, Wal-mart fans asked for the stores to open a few hours earlier. This year, they listened. Ask yourself what the biggest complaint was from last year, and solve that problem before it’s also this year’s biggest problem!
Creating New Fans
As a busy working mom, this holiday season I’m going to first look to the companies that can solve my shopping problems: gift ideas, flexible hours and budget-friendly items. Look at your target audiences, anticipate their biggest challenges and figure out how you can do the same for them.
Take it a step further. “It” being anything that will bring your service or experience to the next level. Do shoppers get frustrated with long lines? In addition to staffing to accommodate, hand out hot chocolate or candy canes to those waiting or tweet/post when lines go down. Invite a local Girl Scout troop to offer complimentary gift-wrapping to your patrons. If you’re a restaurant with a long wait, have managers do extra table-touches and empower them to solve problems to get people back in. Go above and beyond. People share those stories.
For online retailers, target those who have added items to their cart but abandoned the process multiple times. Maybe it’s a an email offer of help or a free shipping deal that will help seal that deal for you and create a thankful fan in the process. The same offer of help can be extended to those frustrated and vocalizing it on Twitter.
Extended services. Longer hours are the obvious ones, but how else can your employees help your customers? Maybe it’s advertising seasonal specialists (like a “children’s gift extraordinaire”) on hand to help point out the hot gifts for boys and girls in each age group and for different budgets. Or live customer service online not just 9-5, but until midnight during the month of December to help your customers.
The two over-arching themes (for all year, but especially during the holidays!) are:
1. Solve your fans problems.
2. Take that extra step.
If you do this, your fans will spread the good word. While people will share the bad and the good, we are all active listeners when it comes to tips on companies and ideas on making life easier. You do that? It’s in the [shopping] bag!
Interested in more ideas? Contact us!