Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Business Chat - Building loyalty

Yay! I’m just back from a successful day at my booth in a busy show. Actually the show wasn’t that busy overall but my booth was! One of the reasons I was busy was that I had a lot of loyal customers coming back even though I’ve only done this show twice before and do no other shows in this city.

Repeat customers are how you grow your business. Repeat customers spend more than first timers. This is because when they do come back, they feel they know you and they’ve become your fans. They trust your work, they understand your brand. They also become loyal ambassadors. Once a customer has returned a few times they are likely to recommend you to their friends and bring you even more business. It’s a snowball effect.

So here’s some tips on building customer loyalty.

Label your work. Branding is important. If your work is given as a gift does the recipient know who made it?

Make sure your contact information is in the package. A customer can’t become a repeat customer if they can’t find you. The customer has to know your email address, website (if you have one), or phone number. Make sure this information is packaged in a pretty way so that if the item is given as a gift that the information will go with it.

If you use a special process, tell the customer about it. Have a sign in your booth. Have an about page on your website. This season I created a small card with all my information on it as well as a description of how I make my beads and jewelry. The customer may know but I also want the gift recipient to understand my story and my brand.

Customer service is key to repeat business. This begins with setting up the right expectations. If you are taking custom orders make sure they know exactly what they are getting and when. If you are selling online make sure your shipping information is clear. Your product  descriptions must be accurate including all measurements and colour information. They have to know exactly what they are getting.

If you are selling online try to exceed their expectations. Ship faster than you said. Include a handwritten note. Add a little something extra. Make your packaging super cute.

Tell your customers how they can buy more from you. Promote your online store at your craft booth. Promote your craft booth in your online store. List your shows on Facebook. Tweet everything. Tell them to stop by and visit and bring a friend.

Stay in touch. It’s not the customers’ job to stay in touch with you, it’s your job to stay in touch with them. I’m a firm believer in newsletters. Keeping your customers in touch with where they can find you and what’s new in your world not only promotes new work but it reminds them that you exist. Even 3 times a year by email is fine. Of course this does mean that you have their email addresses.

Facebook fan pages are free. Set one up.
Blogging is a great way of letting the customers in on what’s happening in your world. Blog if you think you can do a good job of it. Do not blog just because you think you should. Blog about new work, inspirations, general fun stuff. Give them an insiders’ look at your world.

The bottom line is that you need to make regular customers feel like an insider in your own special club. Think about how nice it is when you go into a cafe and the waiter remembers your name and the special way you like your coffee. Think about how you feel extra special when your coffee comes with a little complimentary cookie on the side. When that café sends you an email telling you about a promotion they have this week you’ll most likely go there and take a friend.

This season is in full swing now. Think of 5 little tiny touches you can do to make your customers feel special.

Now do them.

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