Humans are emotional beings. Research shows that our most primitive section of brain is hardwired to make decisions based on how we feel.
Early on as a species, those emotional instincts kept us alive. But nowadays our emotional reflex (ego) drives our behaviour in relationships – including our relationships with consumer brands and the person behind the coffee counter.
Companies that use this emotional connection between ego and brand to their advantage usually have deeply loyal customers. Think Apple and Google, Tesla and Harley Davidson, Coca Cola and Tim Hortons.
But small business owners don’t need a Google-sized marketing budget to create an emotional bond with customers and deepen their loyalty. Here are three ways to strengthen emotional ties so your regulars become even more regular (and bring along their like-minded friends):
- Put a stake in the ground. Build your brand around a single idea that sets your small business apart from the competition – something that communicates value to customers. Keep it simple and consistent. From the coffee shop known for its personalized latte art to the salon that gives a free makeup touch-up or mini-massage after a haircut, to the online apparel store that packages merch in keepsake bags, focus on your unique “thing” to attract loyal customers who crave repeat experiences with your brand.
- Communicate with customers in a personal way. Speak to your core customers in a tone they can identify with and that resonates with your brand. Align your “brand voice” (i.e. playful and casual, sophisticated, academic, folksy, nerd-tech, adventurous, sarcastic, etc.) with the feeling you want customers to have about your products and services. Use that voice across all marketing assets, from your website/blog to your social media to customer emails. Vicinity makes it easy to tailor the wording of emails and texts to hit the right emotional notes. You can use the platform’s SMS and email features to send personalized customer messages designed to trigger the emotional motivators that attract people into your store. For example, the thrill of a VIP discount offered on a hot new product; or feeling satisfied because today only, all sandwich orders come with a free ice cream.
- Listen to what people are saying. Pay attention to the conversations happening “out there” about your small business. Monitor social media channels and search through hashtag or @ feeds that feature your brand. What are employees saying? What are customers saying? Get regular feedback from customers about the reasons they like (or dislike) what you’re doing to help you correct mistakes and stay on track with your brand positioning. Employees embody the brand’s promise – give them opportunities to share with you any customer comments that would improve customer relationships. Create a short customer survey using a free online service like Google Forms or SurveyMoney, and blast out the link to customers using Vicinity’s text-message feature. People love to feel rewarded, so offer free Vicinity points as incentive to complete the survey.