Q&A: Turn Your Customers into Raving Fans
MARIBETH KUZMESKI IS THE AUTHOR OF FIVE BOOKS, including her most recent, "And the Clients Went Wild! How Savvy Professionals Win All the Business They Want (Wiley, 2010). She is the founder of Red Zone Marketing LLC, Grayslake, Ill, which consults with businesses from entrepreneurial firms to Fortune 500 corporations on strategic marketing planning and business growth.
What can today's financial services companies do to make their customers as passionate and loyal to their products as sports fans are to their favorite teams?
Fan loyalty is an emotional connection that's often stronger than any other loyalty, frequently due to generational or family-based connections--or, for those who fiercely cheer for their college, or even high school, alma maters, connections based on nostalgia. Many banks and other businesses today might assume that there is no way they can elicit such passion from their customers, but with the right strategies, it is possible.
I'm going to read the four absolutes that you say are necessary for inspiring that kind of passion. Can you explain each one? The first is "Offer something unique."
Whatever you're offering your customers can't just be better; it has to be different. In order to gain exposure, it helps to be or to offer something unique--or do something that no one else dares.
A great example of a company that understands the "different is better" mantra is Buc-ee's gas stations in Texas. They have focused their number-one offering on what people dread most about stopping at a gas station: the bathrooms! Each of the 30 locations has incredibly clean, substantially sized bathrooms, along with full-time attendants to keep them in tip-top shape. And happy customers regularly post testimonials on the company's blog. Bucee's built its entire business around the bathrooms--a feature that managers knew they could use to differentiate their business.
Explain, "Create something valuable (and viral!)."
This strategy is twofold. First, you must have something valuable to say--a message your customers will want to pass on to others. Then, you have to make it easy for them to pass that message on. When it is really easy for customers to pass along information about your brand, they will.
You might kick off this strategy by creating a simple, repeatable message. People have an average attention span of only 17 seconds, so you have to get their attention quickly. A short, clear message will certainly do the trick. Think about Google. For the most part, the company does not advertise often, and certainly did not advertise its initial offering of its Web search site. …