Every business owner dreams of an army of loyal customers, clients or patients. The kind who buy everything you sell. Who stop by your business every week. Whose car automatically “finds its way” to your storefront.
Got your greed glands salivating?
Well, what if I told you, you really could have them? And it didn’t have to cost you a ton of money. Would you be interested in learning how? If your answer is yes well then you’re in luck. What I’m about to share with you could literally change the entire course of your business.
Buckle up, let’s get started.
Values And Principles
Customer loyalty is one of the most difficult things to create and maintain. There’s a lot of reasons why. At its core, the reason why customers are loyal is because they agree with its principles and values.
New customers might hear a story about you or your business and say, “Hey, that’s pretty cool, I’ll check’em out.” If your customers know what you stand for, it’s hard for a competitor to sway them away from you.
The problem then becomes, “How do I get them in the door so that I can proselytize to them? So they can hear our story or experience our magic?” This is where businesses get tripped up. They have a great message or experience, but word is not getting out.
The strategy I’m going to share with you will all but eliminate this problem, so keep reading.
Punch ‘Em Out
Unless you’re from another planet you’re probably familiar with loyalty punch cards. You know the type, right? “Buy 24 terrible atomic subs, become a submarine captain and get the 25th terrible sub free.”
If you’re like everyone else once you reach the half-way point you’re in, you're invested. They got you until you max that sucker out. Its brilliant.
The only problem with punch cards is that you need an army of customers in order for them to work.
What I mean is that they’re no good to you if people still haven’t found out about you. Catch my drift?
But what if you took this strategy and used it to generate NEW customers? Wouldn’t that be much more useful to your business?
I also agree, here’s how you do it…
Everyone drinks coffee, well almost everyone. Starbucks. Dunkin’ Donuts. McDonald’s. They all know this and want you to buy it from them. They want your car to “find its way” to their drive-troughs every morning.
A smart thing Dunkin’ did late last year to make sure this happened was this postcard that I got in the mail. Sorry for the bad scan.
The postcard offers me a free medium hot or iced coffee every Monday between October 3rd and
November 28th. If I buy coffee on my way to work every morning, this is a pretty good deal. You really can’t beat free.
But why is Dunkin’ doing this? Two reasons.
One, they know that most customers who buy coffee in the morning also buy something else. In this case, they buy a doughnut or breakfast sandwich. Giving away a free cup of coffee that costs them less than $0.25 to make is a good tradeoff for a $2-$5 sale. Even if only 1 out of every 5 customers does this.
Wouldn’t you agree? Which leads me to the second reason.
Two, is they’re creating addictive behavior or a pattern. Monday morning, wake up, shower, get dressed, and hit Dunkin’ on the way into the office. It’s Pavlovian. But, in the process Dunkin’ gets to proselytize to these new customers. To have them experience their magic.
But what if you could expand in this tactic? What if you “swiped it” and made it your own, only BETTER?
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Pack A Mike Tyson Punch
So, a punch card is what you’re going to use to get a crowd of people in your door. Except your punch card isn’t going to be wimpy and lame like the Dunkin’ one. Although it’s better than nothing.
Yours will deliver real value to customers. Give them a REAL reason to stop by.
To do this you’re going to have to know your businesses numbers. You need to know what your average ticket it. How long customers stay with you. And your profit margins.
Most importantly, you need to give away something with a high perceived value that doesn’t cost you much.
Is any of this making you nervous?
No Wimps Allowed
I have to warn you, this isn’t a time to be shy or conservative. Your punch card HAS to make the BEST possible offer it can to potential customers.
Remember, you’re trying to convince people that have never tried you to give you a chance. And don’t worry, they WONT rip you off. Yes, you will get some people that come in only for the offer, BUT they’ll be a small percentage of people.
So what should you do? Well let me give you a few examples.
If you’re a coffee shop, like our friends at Dunkin’, extend the offer beyond just Mondays. Make it every day for a month!
Panera bread used to do this, I’m not sure if they still do, when you signed up for their rewards program. The employees at my store down the block from them would go EVERY morning. They would get their free cup AND they would BUY something else to go along with it. Many of them still go at least once a week.
If you’re a restaurant, be aggressive. Let people try any entrée on your smaller portion lunch menu free for a week. They would still have to pay for their drinks or full size entrées not on the lunch menu and tip the wait staff.
If you can get every business within a 1-2 mile radius to try you out you can tell them about your dinner menu. Or your catering and delivery options. And assuming your food is any good you’ll have a loyal army of customers.
But what if you provide a service? Gotcha, here’s what you do.
If you’re an accountant you can provide free basic bookkeeping for one year. People hate doing their books. If you can do this for them for free it would be a godsend to many of us. The payoff for you would come during tax season.
If you do someone’s books for a year, there’s a very small chance they'll take their tax business somewhere else. In fact, it would be hard for them to do this if you have all their documents. I’m not advocating holding it ransom, but you can schedule “exit interviews.”
Most would rather stay than have to sit through such an uncomfortable conversation.
Remember, we’ll do more to run from pain than we will to run toward pleasure.
Oh, The Guilt!
What you’ll find is that the law of reciprocity takes effect. If you give me something, I’m forced subconsciously to give you something in return. It’s good guilt. If you’re very generous, people will be very generous in return.
The Hare Krishna’s used this strategy beautifully when they would offer you a free flower with a pamphlet at the airport.
To develop an army of loyal customers you have to do what your competitors aren’t willing to do. If it makes financial sense to do it, then you should. Customer acquisition can be expensive.
If investing $0.25 on a free cup of coffee will double your business then that’s an investment worth making.
Enjoy the Super Bowl and remember, “Life is a series of missed opportunities, so go for yours.”™
To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.