Consumers are faced with more choices than ever before, from the goods that they purchase to the services that they use. In the past, familiarity with a particular brand usually resulted in repeat business and loyalty to the brand, but with so many more options now available, this is not always the case. Additionally, savvy consumers are much more likely to shop around to get the best deal. So how can you ensure they stay loyal to your brand?
Define your brand identity
Your brand is essentially a representation of all the characteristics that people think of when they consider your product. For example, a fashion retailer might specialise in selling clothing that is great value or ethically-produced. These are different types of goods, each with their own appeal and individual target market. Identifying what type of product you have and who it will appeal to will be crucial for a successful marketing campaign. Look for its unique selling point (USP) or defining characteristic. Heritage, locally produced, experienced and professional are just a few different branding buzz-words that can be applied to products or services. Once you have established your brand identity, you can market it effectively according to your target demographic.
A two-way process
However, with so much competition for market share, simply getting your message out there is not enough. The recent recession has made consumers even more likely to shop around for the lowest price, regardless of any precious relationship with a particular company. This is all well and good if you happen to be the cheapest supplier around but if not, you will need to find other ways to capitalise on your strengths and build relationships with your client base. This lack of customer loyalty, combined with increased choice, are just a couple of the reasons why you should be using a brand engagement strategy. Customers want to feel that companies understand and respond to them and that the relationship is more than just that of supplier and purchaser. Engaging customers with your brands can be a good way to secure their loyalty.
How can this be achieved?
Loyalty schemes that offer money-off vouchers or discounts are nothing new. Whilst these can be attractive, a more hands-on approach is required. Social media is an extremely powerful engagement tool as it facilitates communication between companies and consumers, not only building up a relationship but also allowing firms to respond quickly to the demands of their customers. Requesting feedback or asking customers to trial new products and innovations will also boost their feelings of engagement and inclusion into the brand family. A holistic approach is beneficial, and it is crucial to also consider how your own staff regard your brand. Good brand values supporting a positive and meaningful message will enable your employees to be passionate about your firm’s ethos. The power of the wider message that yours is a good company to work for should not be underestimated.
A successful brand engagement strategy will allow you to build a closer relationship with your clients, making them feel a stronger association with your products than your competitors. This in turn leads to enhanced brand loyalty and increased sales.