Vodafone recently claimed that ‘network brand damage’ was the reason for a $500 million revenue drop in 2012 and Hyundai Australia announced recently a recall of 227,000 cars with a faulty brake light issue that they had known about for 15 months prior. So why aren’t iconic Australian brands investing more in their brand loyalty?
A Readers Digest poll of the most trusted brands found that the number one reason people supported a business was if it ‘remained true to its brand’.
On a recent interstate trip my Qantas flight was delayed two hours on the tarmac due to minor maintenance issues with nothing but a mere PA apology to passengers. Interestingly the new brand tagline for Qantas is - ‘you’re the reason we fly’.
Looking after the customers you have is more important in today’s digitally connected world than it has ever been. With the average person in Australia having at least one social media connection, if not two or three, one negative experience can be shared dramatically in an instant.
Imagine the power of turning that negative experience into a positive one by rewarding the customer for his or her brand loyalty.
Business analysts tell us that it costs up to five times more to win over a new customer than it does to keep an existing one – so why do most brands focus the majority of their marketing budget on attracting new business?
Whether you are starting a business, establishing your brand or a market leader in your field – the only way to build a sustainable brand is with brand loyalty.
Let’s look at four ways to grow your business by looking after one of your biggest assets – your current customers.
Monitor your digital footprint
Comments, good or bad, made about your brand on blog posts, forums, social media and news portals create your digital footprint. So it is vital that you monitor online activity as Google now rewards ‘social chatter’ about a brand with improved page rankings for relevant search phrases.
Whether people are commenting favourably or negatively about your brand won’t matter to the eyes of Google – popular commentary across channels like Twitter or Facebook, LinkedIn groups, online customer forums and digital platforms from Australian news providers will appear more and more prominently.
Monitoring of your brand online is as easy as subscribing to Google’s free service, Google Alerts. Here you select some keywords, for example your business name, product brands if you have them and industry triggers then every day Google will send you a digest email of links to online articles or posts that match your criteria.
Set-up an account with Klout too – a clever piece of online software that measures you ‘klout’ on the web.
Share positive customer experiences
With Google valuing online social chatter – good and bad – it’s important to promote and share good brand experiences across the web. Testimonial videos with customers featured in your business’s YouTube Channel and on your website, daily Tweets about your business activity, case studies of projects on a Blog and media releases about how your business is engaged in the community are all ways to create positive brand positioning.
Create a forum for comment
Facebook is a great platform for developing a brand-to-customer relationship but it must be managed correctly. Start by creating a Facebook page for your business and assign someone in your organisation to be the ‘social media master’.
Your Facebook page should compliment your business so make sure colours and theme follow your brand. Photos and video should be relevant to your audience – pictures from the Christmas office party are probably not appropriate - and the topics you post about should encourage interactivity and comment.
Reward your customer loyalty
Pay TV network Foxtel, together with most of Australia’s leading banks, continue to market attractive offers and discounts to new customers. But very rarely do they reward their existing, loyal customer base.
Provide exclusive deals just to existing customers, send a personalised ‘thank you for your custom’ card from time to time with a bonus offer, or run a competition on Facebook for the best ‘creative’ photo of someone using your product or service.
For example, maybe if Qantas had offered passengers a $50 voucher off another flight, brand loyalty would have been enhanced. Of some 250 passengers on that flight, a $50 voucher (which in real terms to the airline is probably much less than $50 in monetary value) would equate to around $12,000 – a lower cost alternative to a full page ad in a local newspaper or magazine to attract new customers.
The bottom line to strengthening your brand loyalty is to not over estimate the staying power of your existing customers.
Tony Eades is the creative director of BrandManager, a creative, marketing and digital communications agency based in Sydney and Perth. He is a business branding expert with more than 25 years experience in brand design, marketing, advertising and media production.