The world is full of options. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to build a strong brand foundation to encourage repeat business. The question is: how?

Building brand loyalty is all about creating an identity in a customer’s head, or a persona if you will. For example, when I think of Nike, I think of their slogan “Just do it”, the iconic tick, and an equal measure of comfort and credibility in the sporting world.

All of these aspects form the basis of their marketing genius. They’ve brainwashed me (in the nicest possible way) to think a specific way about their brand. The proof? Well, I can honestly say that I’d never buy a pair of football boots made by anyone else.

This epitomises the power of brand loyalty. They’ve cast their fishing line, and out of the water I’ve emerged; hook, line, and sinker.

However, for many small to medium size businesses, trying to create this type of recognition and following is tricky. Lucky enough, I have three core values that will help lay the foundation for an established brand following and loyalty. Check them out…

Consistency is key

Forbes contributor, Sue Cockburn, recently highlighted the importance of consistency in her article, Consistency: The Key to Building Strong Customer Relationships.

The point is, when customers can rely on your business to provide the same high level of customer service, the same quality of products and the same attention to detail, you’ll start to build a trusting relationship. This trust then turns into repeat business.

A perfect example of this, is in the food industry. A chef may have to make the same dish numerous times a day, but if the standard of one of them is below par, your business could instantly lose a customer. Whereas if the chef pays extra close attention to getting every single dish spot on, every day and every week, you’ll start to see these customers returning. People invest in quality, so make sure your brand typifies this.

Be inspiring

It was only a few months ago when Amazon launched their TV advert, featuring an imam and a vicar exchanging Christmas gifts. This one stood out in particular, as it dared to make the audience think during such a fragile and testing time. The story of an inter-faith friendship is a perfect example of how one marketing campaign can inspire so many people.

Of course, many businesses won’t have the budget to roll out such a grand advertising scheme. But we can certainly learn from the core principle of this advert.

Amazon’s main message was about giving and uniting at such a special time of the year. There were no discriminations, just one powerful message with a subtle undertone of Amazon’s services.

Regardless of what industry you’re in, every business has the power to inspire their customers. For example, beauticians could run a specific Mother’s Day campaign with the tagline: ‘Make Mum feel special’. As an incentive, they could make all blow dry and cuts free for Mums when their daughter or son books a treatment. By doing something like this, your business is inspiring your customers to do something nice off the back of your generosity.

So, when a customer is feeling inspired to do something nice, they’ll most likely identify your brand as the place to help them achieve this.

Give your customers a reason to return

This may sound obvious, but some customers need an extra incentive to get them through the doors again. After all, when it comes to making a purchase or booking today, businesses only have a brief second to influence consumers’ minds. Google calls these ‘micro-moments’. Plus, with 82% of smartphone users turning to their phone to influence a purchase decision on the go, it’s your job to keep your business at the forefront of their minds.

Sending weekly newsletters or email campaigns can help to engage your target audience. Then when it comes to making a relevant purchase, they will think of you as their first option.

Or if you’re looking for a more lucrative means of communication, SMS is the perfect option. On average, 90% of text messages are read within the first three minutes and 32% of people will respond to them. This means that there’s a high possibility that your audience will see and interact with your SMS. You can also send personalised vouchers and tickets to your customers, enticing them to return to your business.

Loyalty schemes are another great way to encourage repeat business throughout the year. Even McDonalds do this. They may be renowned for fast food, but they also have a selection of hot drinks available too. And to get customers popping back for their daily fix, they reward their coffee lovers with a free cup after purchasing six.

This same principle works across all industries. You can do this by offering your customers a paper or plastic card. Or if you’re looking for a highly effective option; track and reward multiple actions or purchases with a SMS loyalty card.

Customers always have their smartphones on them, so this is a wonderful opportunity to stay close to your customers 24/7, whilst reducing your carbon footprint.

Ready to build?

When you’re trying to build brand loyalty, just remember these three core values, and don’t be afraid to throw some new things into the mix.

By promoting a brand that inspires, oozes quality and gives something back, you’re certain to be branded as a business to trust. Then it’s just a matter of dealing with all of your loyal customers returning!

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