Ever noticed how often people talk about client relationships or customer service? You guessed it, every day! It seems there is always a new term cropping up to describe how we connect to customers. I’m sure you use your own term as well. We’re encouraged to discontinue traditional broadcasting and push marketing to become agents in the world of viral videos, technology and new media. Seriously, who can keep up? All we really want is a group of people who love what we do and how we do it, sort of our very own brand evangelists. Sounds good, huh?

Here’s the age old question that’s been building businesses since business building began: Are you looking for more customers?

Let me be clear. I don’t mean more traffic in your store front or more page views on your website. I’m talking about real live customers who keep coming back for more. I’m not talking about the people who pay attention to you. I’m talking about the people who pay you and do so graciously. They pay for your product or service, see the value in it and proceed to tell everyone they know about you. Once again, sounds good! Who wouldn’t want more customers like that?
What builds a successful, thriving business is a community of loyal, engaged, participating and paying customers—real people who want to be part of what we do. If that’s your goal, check out my 7 strategies to create an environment of raving fans and loyal customers.

1. Create A Sense Of Community. People like being in the company of others who are like minded. People don’t stay where they aren’t valued. Create value in your online and offline environment so that people recognize how important they are to your business everywhere they look. Everyone wants to belong to a group where they feel accepted and valued. Everyone likes to feel important. When people feel valued and comfortable, they connect and usually buy.

2. Give Your Customers Incentives. No matter what the purchase is, everyone likes to feel as though they got the best deal possible. Create a WOW factor with every offer. Pack in value and relevant content that is engaging to any living human being who reads it. Don’t sell your products and services. Educate your prospects on how and why to buy them. If you demonstrate to them how it will make their lives or work easier, simpler or more productive you’re closer to getting them to invest. Offer statements that make your prospects self qualify. The goal is to make the customer say: “Yes I definitely need that. How do I sign up?”

3. Build Authentic Relationships. I hate automated customer service lines. I consider such an impersonal method of customer service as simply annoying. I want a real person on the other end of the phone to greet me. I’d be willing to bet, so do your customers. When you are speaking to your customers over the phone, listen more than you talk. Learn more than you teach. Research like Google Analytics and other data might tell you what customers are doing, but it won’t tell you why. One thing for sure, your customers will tell you exactly what they’re thinking if you simply ask for their feedback. I remember when I first started out in media sales, it was tough. I was green and uncertain about my effectiveness. One technique I mastered was getting my customers to grade me. I’d simply ask, “So what grade would you give me and why?” That simple question taught me that our customers are brilliant about showing us what they love, hate and what makes them change their mind. In the process, I built relationships and learned a lot.

4. Become A Resource. Supply relevant, intelligent and timely information that will position you as a resource and expert. If you’re the first to offer your customers knowledge on breaking news in your industry as well as their industry, you’ve placed yourself a step above the crowd. The folks who know everyone and are seemingly known by everyone, are usually the ones who get the best opportunities first. They give and get more leads. Being knowledgeable about a little bit of everything, gives you an edge.

5. Provide An Experience Based On Customer Input. Invite your customers to suggest, design and perhaps lead new initiatives or promotions. It’s funny how engaged customers become when they are given the opportunity to design a new logo or mascot or write a jingle for a commercial. Don’t be afraid to let the customers drive the train. Allow them to teach, learn and play along with others who love your brand. Spoil your customers by making them a part of an experience they will never forget. Customers are people who help build our businesses.

6. Honor and Celebrate Your Brand Ambassadors. Brand Ambassadors are the people who refer other business to you and introduce you to their friends and so on. Be sure to show and tell your ambassadors why you value their business by pointing out the core values you share. Create a customer of the month promotion. Find a way to show your appreciation for those who are loyal and help you along. Be unforgettable. Show gratitude. Be more generous than they ever expected you to be. Trust me, the law of attraction will work in your favor on this one. You’ll find that you’ll attract customers who reflect those attributes right back.

7. Become A Brand Ambassador. How many clichés are there for this one? I’ll just use one. How about, “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” The major principle here is simply the golden rule…do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Becoming a brand ambassador for your customers will result in a win-win situation for you and them. If you are sending your customers, customers and they are doing the same, everyone wins.

All of the above strategies, point to one central them about what attracts and keeps customers: caring about them. Customers are the people who fuel our growth as business owners. They have the power along with their loyalty to help or harm you. Loyalty is about relationship. No other business asset is more powerful than customer loyalty. Having fans is cool. Having raving fans is much better.

© 2012 Quality Media Consultant Group, LLC – All Rights Reserved
This article is written by Lori A. Manns. Want to use this article for your website, blog or newsletter? No problem. Here’s what you must include: Lori A. Manns, CEO of Quality Media Consultant Group and founder of ABC’s of Successful Sponsorship Sales System;TM that shows you how to get more sponsors and sales for your business, guaranteed. To purchase consulting services on marketing, advertising or sales and, learn how to increase your revenue and grow your business; please visit www.qualitymediaconsultants.com.