Every CEO, marketer and entrepreneur wants their business to “stand out”, to rise up out of the noise of the competition and grab the hearts and minds of consumers and clients. They want raving fans lining up for their products and services. They want repeat business and loyalty. Who wouldn’t?
When you have raving fans, you get the two most coveted things in 21st century marketing — word of mouth and “social proof”, in the form of positive reviews and spontaneous, unequivocal social promotion. As someone who runs a social media agency, I have seen companies attempt every trick in the book to try to achieve this result. But you know what I rarely see? A company, CEO or CMO that actually achieves the desired effect.
Do you know why? Two reasons:
- As Teradata published in January: “Loyalty just isn’t what it used to be. Switching brands in the blink of an eye is commonplace, and many businesses have no idea how to fix the problem. They struggle to keep current customers happy and also bring new ones onboard.According to Accenture’s latest Global Consumer Pulse Research study, “Customer 2020: Are You Future-Ready or Reliving the Past?” (PDF) today’s buyers are constantly evaluating—and changing—brands. For example, 46% of consumers believe they are more likely to switch compared to 10 years ago. Moreover, 53% of U.S. consumers switched brands because of poor service in at least one industry, and yet 80% of those switches could have been avoided through better resolution.”
- Because no matter how much our industry preaches the principles of ‘authenticity’ and ‘leading with values’ — almost everyone chooses to deem these fundamental practices unimportant and “fluffy” in order to skip to tacked-on tactics and poorly-planned publicity stunts.
Today, I witnessed my own process of becoming a loyal fan in action.
It was mid-afternoon and I decided to take a much-needed break from my computer to grab a delicious Gibraltar coffee at Noble, the local, hipster roastery, a new find in my new town. Admittedly, I was pre-occupied thinking about a client conversation when I walked in the door and stood in line, not paying very much attention to my surroundings. It took the tall man in front of me a second time asking his question to get my attention. “What are you having today?”, he asked again. I froze for a second, puzzled. Usually, it’s the person behind the counter asking this question, not the person in front of it. I focused, looked into his eyes and saw his gesture of kindness. He was offering to buy my coffee for me. And before I could process and respond to his out-of-the-blue kindness, he had moved on to ask the woman behind me what she wanted, too.
I quickly searched for an answer (I needed to buy coffee beans, too but I wasn’t going to let him buy those!) and settled on my Gibraltar order. I thanked him and asked his name. “Grace” he said, obviously making up his own answer, as well. He smiled and said “have a great day”, leaving the receivers of his generosity and the baristas with wide smiles. Joy, even. Delight!
I asked the barista, what’s that guy’s name? She said, “I don’t know, he always gives us a different name” she laughed and then added, “But I know he owns the Northwest Pizza Company”. Ahhh… Perfect, I could now track him down.
I paid for my beans and sipped my perfectly-made Gibraltar as I walked down the street thinking about how I would now always order from his pizza company. Now, to be fair, we almost always order pizza from his shop because their pizza is delicious. But being delicious wasn’t enough to earn my loyalty, there are other good pizza shops in town. It was this one random act of kindness — by the owner — that made me a loyal customer. His good guy qualities shined today and it made me want him to have all the success in the world.
The moral of this story isn’t to say, every CEO and business owner needs to walk around giving away free stuff all the time but it is to say that having and showing community-oriented, positive values means something. It’s not unimportant. It’s not fluff. At a time when corporate greed is rampant and people are sick and tired of being taken for granted, being kind is what people care about — and remember.
If you have a company or are in charge of marketing, ask yourself: how can you provide prospective customers and your community value? How can you delight them? How can you show your best self?
While you’re doing that, I’ll be over on Yelp, giving his company the positive review I never bothered with before now. That’s my way of saying Thank You, “Grace”, you’ve won a loyal customer and a bit more well-deserved social proof for your business. And I hope you’ve taught some other companies just how easily it can be done.
This article was written by Gretchen Fox from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.