Customer loyalty is very hard to gain in an era where countless businesses are offering the same products and services to the same audience. Customers have lots of choices, and as soon as they find the “supposedly” next best thing, they take their money, family and friends with them. Instead of just building a customer loyalty program, focus on building WOW customer experience and the loyalty will follow.

A WOW customer experience is when a business is really great at providing their customers with amazing products and also genuinely provides excellent service. When a customer experiences both components simultaneously and consistently, it activates an emotion that creates loyalty and trust, which turns that customer into a walking word-of-mouth marketer for your business. Now imagine having 100 or 500 customers just like that. You now start to build a tribe of supporters for your business.

In reality, not all businesses are built like that. (read more…)

The squeeze is on. Consumer spending has been slow to recover with the economy, and, as a result, the size of the retail pie isn’t getting any bigger. To stay competitive, retailers are increasingly finding that they need to focus more on gaining and maintaining customer loyalty as an imperative to business success. Not only is it cheaper to keep current customers than to acquire news ones, but happy customers can be an amazing recruitment tool, if they are incentivized to advocate for their favorite brands. As a result, social loyalty is becoming the newest trend in retail marketing’s tool belt.

Social loyalty, according to Forrester Research, is “brand affinity built on the connection of consumers to the brand as well as to each other.” It provides an opportunity for brands to engage with members beyond the transaction — encouraging awareness, advocacy and emotional loyalty.

Here’s how front-line retailers are using social loyalty to obtain these benefits — and how you can, too:

Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Turning loyal customers into advocates on social media gives brands a powerful way to increase awareness and reach among connected consumers. (read more…)

Social media, the ever-elusive but never exclusive opportunity, allows brands to establish a direct channel to engage and interact with their key audiences (e.g., customers, partners and employees). Yet, according to CEO.com’s 2014 Social CEO Report, nearly two-thirds of Fortune 500 CEOs have no identifiable presence on the major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram). The opportunities here are endless, yet only a small group of top CEOs truly leverage these networks to their full potentials.

CEOs looking to take that plunge into social media, or ramp up their efforts, need to determine the best approach. Your activity on social media can generate a bigger impact than anything else in your marketing arsenal when properly managed and leveraged. To get started, here are the top three things you need to consider:

  1. Take stock. First, figure out where you are in the social media landscape. What social assets do you have?
  2. (read more…)

You’re an entrepreneur, you’ve got great ideas, and business is booming. So why not be recognized as a thought leader in your industry? After all, your competition is doing it. With blogs and social sharing platforms at everyone’s fingertips, establishing a strong presence in the sea of voices is almost as important as your product or service. The big question is, how do you get your voice heard, and how do you know what to say and who to say it to?

Here are four tips on excelling in the school of thought leadership.

Articulate what makes you special

Spend some time deciphering exactly what makes your business stand out from the crowd. How are you innovative? How is your company playing the game differently? Nothing says leader more than spearheading a shift in industry thinking. It’s not as intimidating as it might sound — we don’t all have to be Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh transforming the call center into a model of corporate culture. (read more…)

Google any of the following phrases: real estate, home loan, insurance, handyman, donation, hosting, lawyer, credit. Imagine you offer one of these services.

Recognized names often dominate search results. Service consolidators, companies with many physical locations and firms with magnificent ad budgets can leave smaller brands wondering whether competition is even feasible.

A business owner might take this on as search engine optimization, and go looking for an SEO geek to fight his battles. Yet, facing the giants with the slingshot of SEO could be a mistake. You beef up your website and lob over endless bags of cash, but the impact is absorbed in the endless algorithmic folds of the merciless beast. Search is shrugging off all attempts at bribery or force, and the big guys just stay bigger.

So, let them. Since search has tightened up, small brands actually have a great shot at it. To reach for the new tools, though, requires letting go of your rocks. (read more…)