And like any relationship, this one gets better or worse every day, depending on your brand’s actions and attitudes. Too personal too quick can be off-putting, but if you neglect an old friend, it leaves the door open for distraction.
Pay attention to how much time and effort the customer is willing to invest, how much they’re willing to share, and how much your brand seems to be on their mind. Then you’ll know how to help the spark grow.
What’s your relationship status? Here are some clues and what to do about it:
Companions of Convenience: Like parents from your kid’s soccer team, customers hang out with your brand because it’s at the right place at the right time—think batteries at the checkout counter. Not much loyalty here, as customers respond to price and easy availability; it wouldn’t take much to change their mind. In other words, your brand isn’t difficult, but isn’t different either. Could it be customers just don’t know it well enough?
Acquaintances: Customers and your brand have spent a little time together and make small talk now and then. The experience isn’t unpleasant, but for whatever reason, the customer doesn’t make an effort to follow up. Furniture brands are familiar with this feeling—customers come around when they need something, say hi and visit for a bit, but usually it’s out of sight, out of mind. It’s time to remind them.
Flings: Your brand is a special occasion. Customers have no intention of sticking around long term, but they do show up once in a while. Sometimes they’re bored, sometimes they just need to indulge a little or see what else is out there. It’s okay, that’s not always a bad thing (just ask gourmet chocolates), as long as they don’t wait too long between visits. Get customers back sooner with new ways to keep them interested.
Casual Buddies: Your brand and your customers enjoy each other’s company and get along really well when you do get together. You’ve even created a memory or two. Like many department stores, your repeat customers show real affinity, but they haven’t fully “let you in” yet. They have more favored options, they don’t talk about what they really want, and you don’t know their greatest concerns. Well, why don’t you ask them and find out?
Enduring Friends: This relationship exists for reasons beyond money. Customers have known your brand for a while and you see each other regularly. They’ll spend time with others in between visits, but you’re confident they’ll come back, like a favorite neighborhood restaurant. At the same time, friendships like this should be cherished and never taken for granted. Remember to make them feel appreciated.
Soulmates: This is where every brand wants to be, but in reality, everyone has room for just a small handful in their lives. Both customer and brand have invested enough to make it stick and are never truly apart. No way these customers would even think about going somewhere else, because your brand has become part of their identity (there’s steady, there’s loyal…and then there’s motorcycle owners). Keep doing what you’re doing, which is making them your top priority.
Certain types of brands are right for each person
You can’t be all things to all people. The best your brand can do is work with the relationship it has and try to be a good match, starting with mutual interest and respect.
Whatever type of brand relationship you’re in, remember this: the best ones are two-way streets, not transactions. So, stay in touch for no reason. Stop talking about yourself so much. And always, always, always make customers feel like they’re the only one who matters.