7 Ways to Create Better Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Nov, 19, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

content marketing








I am frequently asked by those who are pursuing a content marketing strategy what they can do to make the process easier and provide higher quality information of value for their customers and prospects.


Following are seven steps to take to create better content:


  1. Be strategic and identify how your content marketing integrates with the rest of your marketing communications strategy:
    - Who are your target personas -- who are you trying to reach?
    - What are your goals -- awareness, traffic, leads, dialog, SEO?
    - When do you want to reach your target in their journey -- top of the funnel (awareness, research), middle of the funnel (RFI, short list, competitive evaluation), bottom of the funnel (meeting with vendors, purchase decision)?
    - Where do you want to reach your target -- where will they be most receptive to your message, where are they going to be looking for information of value?
    - Why does what you are sharing matter -- is it really information of value or all you doing a brand dump, or selling?

  2. Create one big piece of content and then break it down into different content types that can be shared across many channels -- blog posts, white papers, videos, ebooks, infographics, testimonials, FAQs, case studies, webinars, newsletters.

  3. Tell a story that is different and unique to you and your business. What business problem have you solved with a creative solution?

  4. Be useful. Answer questions before people asked them based on the questions you've been asked many times before. The more time you save your customers and prospects, the more you make it sinple and easier for them, the more likely they will become long-term customers.

  5. Have a content generation mindset and inculcate that mindset into your employees. Content is everywhere. One of the best sources I heard lately are the emails members of the sales team are sending to clients or prospects. These emails are likely answering questions or objections.

  6. Do more. The more you do, the better you'll get and the more analytics you'll have to let you know what is, and is not, working. B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than companies that do not blog (Hubspot).

  7. Be a better writer. Tell better stories. The more you write, the more you share, the more you have a chance of stirking a chord with a prospect or a customer. Write emotionally compelling content to increase the likelihood that your content will be share with others.  

Tags: dialog, earn your customers trust, information of value, customer journey, content marketing, emotional connection, trusted advisor, social media

6 Insights Into What Customers Want, . . .

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Aug, 12, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

dialog with customers







. . . but companies aren't giving them.

This is taken, and expanded upon, from the book, What Customers Really Want, by Scott McKain.

The book was written in 2005, but many of the lessons are just as today as I have written in a number of blog posts.

Here are the six things customers really want and what most businesses are giving them:

  1. Customers want a compelling experience.  Businesses are giving them customer service, and not very good customer service at that. As Peter Shankman has said, all you have to do to be better than someone else is not "suck."
  2. Customers want personal focus.  Business provides a product focus. Sell benefits for the individuals rather than the features the engineers think are cool.
  3. Customers want reciprocal loyalty.  Businesses supply endless prospecting.  How much does your company spend on branding, lead generation and demand creation versus customer satisfaction.  If it's less than 80/20, your company is doing better than most.
  4. Customers want differentiation.  Businesses offer sameness.  Companies are getting better about offering differentiation within a range.  The ability to custom design your Nike shoes online comes to mind.
  5. Customers want coordination.  Businesses offer confusion.  This problem is getting worse rather than better as customers interact with companies across multiple channels when the companies remain siloed in terms of structure and where customer data resides.
  6. Customers want innovation.  Businesses want to maintain the status quo.  Apple effectively took online digital music from Sony.  One was innovative, one wanted to maintain the status quo.

Are you more focused on your products and services or on your customers needs and wants?

Do you have an open and ongoing dialog with your customers?


Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: consumer insights, transparency, trust, customer experience, dialog

Social Media + Social Business Strategy

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 01, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

Use social media to improve customer experience








An affirming webinar by Shannon Sullivan Duffy, Marketing Director at Facebook, Doug Chavez, CMO at Kenshoo, Jeanette Gibson, V.P. of Customer Experience at HootSuite and Michael Kahn, CEO of Performics.

They provided the following affirmations we need to remember in order to empower our employees to help us market our businesses and provide an outstanding customer experience:

  1. Empower your employees to be brand ambassadors. Encourage them to engage prospects and customers in conversation to learn their needs and wants in order to simplify their lives.

  2. Be clear about the roll of social in your business. Do you want to drive awareness and leads or simply monitor what others' are saying about you and your brand? Identify channels on which you are committed to serving customers and prospects -- providing information of value, answering questions and addressing concerns.

  3. Integrate across all channels in which you are communicating to ensure you are delivering a consistent message. Consistency builds trust.

  4. Determine what's most important for you and your business to accomplish online -- no one model works for everyone or for every type of business.

  5. Understand your customer's journey and do what you can to add value and simplify that journey. Everyone is overloaded with content and starved for time. What can you do to simplify your customers' lives and save them time?

  6. Respond quickly and efficiently. Responding to an online query within five minutes increases the probability that person becomes a lead 100X more than if you wait 30 minutes. If you respond within five minutes, the person is likely still at their computer, or on their mobile device, and you're able to reach them.

  7. Think about how to integrate social media into everything you and your business does. Promote a content-sharing mindset whereby everyone on your team is on the lookout for content that your customers and prospects will find valuable. Such content will answer previously asked questions or provide new ideas on how your product or service will solve a particular problem.

  8. Having a content marketing mindset helps ensure you are sending an integrated message since all content can be repurposed for social media, earned media, paid media, as well as your website.


What are some ways you, your firm and your employees are using social media to grow your business and provide a better customer experience?


Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 

Tags: customer experience, dialog, information of value, empower employees, content, social media, integrated marketing

How to Measure Customer Satisfaction

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Jul, 11, 2014 @ 09:07 AM


customer satisfaction








Guest post: Harvey Hammond

Customer satisfaction is difficult to measure due to several reasons. Counting on customer satisfaction owing to their feedback is not the case because most people prefer keeping quiet when satisfied.

Some people see no need of contacting the service provider while others seek to pass their complaints.

Requirements for customer satisfaction are not only unique but difficult to quantify. Setting standards and improving employee relationships with customers is central strategy of measuring customer satisfaction and ensuring that success is determined.


Ways of measuring customer satisfaction include:


Survey customers

Surveying customers is the only probable way of getting customer feedback unless they contact you.

Most people are busy and have no time to pass redress.

You can provide survey through several ways such as emails and use of phone calls.

To get credible feedback you need to allow customers to answer questions on weighted scale.

You can conduct repeated surveys, over time, to measure changing comments from customers.


Understand expectations

Understanding what customers expect from you will provide ground to satisfy their expectations by giving them enjoyable service.

Making an effort to discover what customers expect from you in terms of service and products is the way to satisfying their needs.


Find out where you are failing

On situations where you are not fulfilling customer requirements, it is credible to find out where you are failing.

Incidences where products are less than advertised should not arise.

Find out if employees are making promises that cannot be met. 

Take strides and attend seminars that will equip you with better managerial skills.

Know the chain of communication so as to know where communication faults are and foster amendments.


Pinpoint specifics

Whether a customer is satisfied or not, you need to collect information to help you assess the situation.

Collect information about what customers purchased, what they liked and they did not like, their actual purchase expectation and their suggestions for improvement.


Assess the competition

Have the initiative to know why customers consider other brands above yours.

Through the survey, invite customers to come and compare and contrast your services and products and make judgment on what you are not offering.


Try to measure the emotional aspect

Customer experiences after buying a given product are attributed to quality.

Feedback from customers in relation to quality, reliability and extent satisfaction should be matched.

Comments customers make are a measure of their satisfaction.

Customers showing dissatisfaction prompts change of strategy.


Loyalty measurement

Customer loyalty is the likelihood of repurchasing products or services.

Customer satisfaction is a major predictor for repurchasing and it is influenced by explicit performance of the product, value and quality.

Loyalty is basically measured when a customer recommends to a friend, family member about given product.

Overall satisfaction, repurchasing and likelihood of recommending to a friend are indicators of customer satisfaction.


A series of attribute satisfaction measurement

This strategy takes into account the affective and cognitive pattern.

Affective behavior is intrigued to liking and disliking owing the benefits the product is attached with.

Customer satisfaction is influenced by perceived quality the product is attached with and it is regulated by expectations of the product or service.

Customer attitude towards a product are as a result of product information through advertisement and any experience with the product whether perceived or real.

Cognition is the judgment on whether the product is useful or not useful.

Judgment is always intended use of application and use of occasions for which the product is purchased.  


Intentions to repurchase

Future hypothetical behavior that indicates repurchasing the product is a measure of satisfaction.

Satisfaction can influence other post purchasing trend through use of the word of mouth or social media platform.



Monitoring can be directed at phone, email and chat communications.

Monitoring includes automated phone interactions designed by companies to help give real world glimpse.

Feedback cards

Dishing out cards will help gauge customer comments.


Author Bio :
I am Harvey Hammond and a freelance writer. I have worked for customers from all over the world which made me to be expertise in the field of writing.  I have been working with all chapters dissertation writing service for the past 7 years as a writer. My past experience as a writer gave me plenty of opportunities to deal with many of the essays, articles and various assignments from the clients to get done which in fact developed my knowledge. Presently, I have completed an article on the title of “How to Measure Customer Satisfaction”.


Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: customer experience, dialog, customer satisfaction, customer service, lifetime customer value

Ensure Your Content Marketing is Integrated Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jul, 02, 2014 @ 22:07 PM

converged media workflow resized 600 








Great webinar by Heather Whaling (@prtini), CEO of Goben Communications, Heidi Sullivan (@hksully) SVP of Digital Content at Cision and Scott Livingston, SVP of Market Engagement at Cision entitled, "Marketing Through Content: Integrated Communications Strategies That Work."


Having been a proponent of integrated marketing since my career began, and also being a proponent of inbound and content marketing, I think this is an extremely important topic that gets far too little discussion as we see the proliferation of media channels.


Just as TV and radio are more effective when used together, rather than independently, content, social, digital and traditional media are all more effective if used together rather than independently.


As marketers, it is critical that we ensure the consistency of message, tone and brand voice across all of the channels we use to market our brands.


Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency breeds confusion and distrust.


I am a big fan of Chipotle and their commitment to delivering "food with integrity." However, when I saw "Farmed and Dangerous," their sarcastic look into "big food" companies, that felt off brand and inconsistent to me.


I reached out to Chipotle to share my thoughts, and while I never got a response, I haven't seen the second of four episodes of "Farmed and Dangerous." I hope they'll let it die.


So how can you ensure a consistent message is delivered across all the channels through which you communicate with customers and prospects?


Heidi provided the Altimeter Group's "converged media workflow" -- how brands must combine paid, earned and owned media:


  1. Content strategy. If you don't have a creative strategy brief, get one and make sure everyone on your team fully understands it and is interpreting it in the same way.

  2. Publication across channels. Determine where your customers and prospects are most receptive to hearing from you. Where do they want their questions answered? How do they want to find out about a new product or service?

  3. Engagement/dialog. People don't engage with companies or brands, they engage with the people behind the brand. Empower your employees to engage in a dialog with customers. This will enhance their emotional connection with the brand. The more employees they have a positive experience with, the stronger the emotional connection.

  4. Amplification. Produce content (advertising, press releases, blog posts, tweets) that people find sufficiently compelling to want to share. I think Chipotle did a great job of this with "The Scarecrow."

  5. Restructuring. Think about how content can be repurposed across channels in paid, earned and owned media. Customize content for the channel but ensure that it remains on strategy and consistent with all your other messages. Think about how you can use each piece of content 10 different times in 10 different channels by repurposing the content.

  6. Listening/iterating. What are your customers and prospects taking away from your messages? Don't assume you know, ask them! Don't be afraid to engage your customers and prospects in a conversation because they may tell you something you don't want to hear. In the age of the Internet and social media, the customer creates your brand perception. Do you want to participate in the creation or stand idly by?

  7. Strategic analysis and reporting. As part of your strategic planning process, identify key performance indicators and monitor them religiously. Don't forget to supplement analytics with qualitative insights that let you know why a customer or prospect is reacting the way are.


Identify the stories you should be telling by learning which ones elicit an emotional connection with your customers.


What are the stories your customers are telling about you?


What are the stories your employees are telling each other about providing an outstanding customer experience?


Stories are much more memorable, and shared, than features and benefits.


Engage your raving fans in a conversation to help identify the most compelling stories that support your strategy and brand promise.


By doing so, your customers will become brand ambassadors and share your stories with their friends, family and colleagues.


Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 

Tags: trust, dialog, alignment, consistent messaging, authenticity, connecting emotionally with customers, content, integrated marketing

Practice Social Listening to Enhance the (#cx) Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Jun, 09, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

social listening enhances the customer experience









Good webinar by Ken Griffin (@kengriffin1), Jaime Vignali (@DocJMV), Doug Busk (@dbusk) and Paul Dunay (@pauldunay) on the "Art of Listening."


I have written in the past about the importance of listening intensely to what your customers and prospects have to say to improve the customer experience, as well as the products and services you provide.


Ken provided five steps all marketers should take to engage in a successful social media listening initiative:


  1. Develop consistent messaging and content. By developing consistent messaging and content, you begin to see what you should be listening for. If there's incongruence between the two, find out why and address it to ensure your messaging and content are consistent.

  2. Source and refine your creative content. Adopt a content-sharing mindset whereby everyone on your team is on the lookout for information of value that will help your customers and prospects answer their questions, and solve their problems.

  3. Improve your media plan to ensure you are reaching your customers and prospects in the channels where they are most active and most interested in receiving your message.

  4. Identify key influencers of your brand and your industry and strive to engage them in a dialog so you can get to know them, their needs and wants, better.

  5. React to real-time opportunities and threats. Prepare crisis communications in advance. Engage legal and regulatory before you need them. It's difficult to respond in real-time is everything has to go through legal before you post it. 
Segment your customers and prospects so that you know where and how they want to engage with you and where they are most likely to be talking about you.
Identify all of the communities, blogs and forums where dialog about your brand is taking place. Do not limit your listening to the primary social media channels (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instgram,
Use social listening to guide your messaging. You can be much more timely and relevant if you know what's currently being said about your brand.
Social media should be a part of your marketing ecosystem, not a separate channel.
Today, social media should be an integral part of your integrated marketing plan.
Jaime Vignali, of Novartis, suggested taking the following steps to monitor and assess your progress:
  1. Determine the goals of your listening program. Do you just want to know what's being said about you to monitor positive and negative sentiment or do you want to engage customers to build a stronger emotional connection to the brand?

  2. Identify key stakeholders for social media analytics. Who in your company would benefit from knowing what customers are discussing on social media? R&D might benefit from knowing what customers do and do not like about your products. Customer service would like to know of any concerns, or kudos, regarding how customers are being treated. 

  3. Kickoff and training. Introduce your social listening initiative to the key stakeholders within your firm so they understand what to expect and so you can agree upon how to respond to different situations.

  4. Share case studies and examples throughout the company. Once different departments see the types of insights you are garnering from your social listening initiative, they're going to want to participate.

  5. Iterate and refine. Always be learning, testing and improving. Don't be afraid to actively engage brand advocates online, or offline, to discuss how you can do a better job of meeting their needs in person and on social media.

You'll be amazed what you will learn from your customers if you listen intensely.
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales


Tags: customer experience, dialog, VoC, voice of the customer, listen intensely, social media

Evolve Customer Service to Enhance the Customer Experience (#cx)

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, May, 14, 2014 @ 11:05 AM


exceptional customer service









My mother passed away acouple of weeks ago and I went to the bank with my 81 year-old father to help him make some changes to their accounts.


Since he was switching accounts to which his social security check would be automatically deposited, his banker told him he needed to call social security to change the routing and account number.


We called the social security office, his banker knew the codes to get through the phone tree. We still ended up waiting to talk to someone for 45 minutes before my father's banker needed to go to another appointment.


On the way home, my father talked about the sad state of customer service in the U.S. and how the bar must be at an all-time low with regards to companies and government entities providing customer service.


Having studied this for the better part of my career, I couldn't disagree.


When we got to his house, I fired up my computer and secure, mobile hotspot and got on the social security administration website.


My father doesn't use a computer and the wifi-network in his retirement community isn't secure so he wouldn't want to conduct business on it.


I was able to set up is account with the social security administration and change the account to which his monthly check is sent in under 10 minutes.


My father was ecstatic that he didn't have to spend hours waiting to speak to someone at the social security office but was equally dismayed that this is yet another example of where all the jobs have gone.


I'm on the board of a credit union. While we have an online banking app as sophisticated as any large financial institution, we use Intuit, we still have branches to serve customers who want to come into a branch because they're not online or they're not comfortable dealing with an ATM.


If all your customers and prospects are millennials, you may be able to get away with having only a mobile app and a website.


However, if you still have baby boomers and beyond, think about how they want to be served as well.


Serve customers in the channel where they are most comfortable buying from, and interacting with, you.


While many customers are comfortable dealing with customer service issues online. A lot still want to talk to a real person. This real person gives you the opportunity to make an emotional connection with your customer.


While older customers may not call you out for poor customer service on social media, they'll sure tell their friends and family.


In this day and age, we all need all the "promoters" we can get.


Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 

Tags: trust, customer experience, dialog, customer satisfaction, improve customer experience to accelerate sales, customer service

11 Questions to Ask to Have a More Customer-Centric Brand

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Apr, 03, 2014 @ 10:04 AM

answer these questions to be more customer-centric








A lot of people ask me what can they do to improve the awareness and perception of their brand.


Start by asking questions to understand the awareness and perception of your brand right now. Listen intensely, don't assume you already know the answer. 


Asking the following questions of yourself, and your management team, will make your brand stronger, better and more authentic to customers.


  1. If your brand were a car, what kind of car would it be? What color? Old, new, used? What price point? Does everyone in the company have a similar answer? If so, great. If not, why?

  2. Can you describe your brand as the first, the onlyfasterbetter or cheaper?  If not, you're toast. What makes you "different and better?"

  3. Who is your brand relevant to?  Describe him or her in as much detail as possible.  How old is he?  How does she spend her day?  Her nights?  Weekends?

  4. Ask your office manager, your receptionist, and your cafeteria serving staff to describe your company in one sentence.  Those people are your frontline soldiers who hear and see every department, at every level.  Really listen to how they answer the question.

  5. When was the last time members of various work teams, at diverse levels of the company, spend more than two hours together just looking at data and talking about the brand -- without a specific brainstorming topic on the table?

  6. Who are your five most visible partners? What do you think your target market thinks of them? Have you asked them?

  7. Do you have standards for selecting partners?  Are they based on multiple elements or just on price?  Size?  Convenience?

  8. How does your mom, husband or child describe the company where you work?  Is it a more simple and accurate description than the one you've been instructed to recite?

  9. Do you have written brand guidelines for your company?  A booklet?  A one-page memo?  An e-mail that was sent "to all" last year?  Who wrote it?  How was it put together? Are the guidelines being followed? Who is enforcing them?

  10. Are there words that are nevers for your brand? (For example, in soccer you never use your hands unless you are the goalie.) Do you have banned words?  Should you?

  11. What does the data say? When was the last time you asked yourself this question?


A lot of executives may see these questions as being "soft."  


I find that these executives are the same ones that either don't understand, or value, the importance of differentiation.  


The answers to these questions will help you differentiate your brand or understand how your customer differentiates your brand in their "considered set."


How can you strengthen your brand?


Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: dialog, consistent messaging, authenticity, customer centric, listen intensely

7 Strategies for Maximizing Mission-Driven Leadership

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Mar, 31, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

mission-driven leadership







I've written numerous posts on the need for the management team to be aligned with regards to vision, mission, values and strategic positioning.


Thanks to Gallup for the following suggestions to ensure the management team, and the entire organization, is in alignment with regard to the mission of the organization.


Seven strategies for maximizing mission-driven leadership


Mission-driven leaders help all employees and managers understand why an organization exists.


They boldly affirm what the company hopes to achieve and push toward the desired results.


Mission-driven leadership comes from the heart. It requires talent and guts.


Mission-driven leaders teach managers how to align daily operations with the company's mission, and they encourage understanding and passion for that mission among all employees.


So what can you do to maximize mission-driven leadership?


Gallup recommends implementing the following strategies:


  1. Ask your leadership team, "What do you get paid to do?" Listen for statements that reflect mission in their answers. Look for a consistency of answers. Lack of consistency indicates a lack of understanding or agreement which can lead to confusion among the work force and your customers.
  2. Ask colleagues to discuss when they have recently seen the company mission in action. Look for concrete examples and recognize those individuals for modeling the vision of the company.
  3. Coach leaders about how to use their strengths to advance the company mission. In what ways are the company's leaders modeling the company vision? Are one leader's employees doing a better job of "living the mission" than others?
  4. Ask customers if they are aware of your company's purpose. Their responses will shed light on their awareness of your brand, their engagement with your brand and the consistency of the message they are getting with regards to your brand's mission.
  5. Consider how this year's business strategy might affect your mission. For example, a merger on the horizon will require integrating a group of new employees into your culture; teaching them about your mission and purpose is a good place to start that process.
  6. Evaluate strategic objectives for this year, asking why each is a focus. How do they serve your mission? How do they serve your customers, patients, or members?
  7. Assess how your business ranks against others in your industry. Which employees are most engaged with your mission? What's different about them?


Leaders have plenty on their plates, and it's easy to lose sight of a company's ultimate purpose.


Keeping mission front and center for managers, employees, and customers is good for business.


Empowering leaders with the knowledge and resources they need to make mission matter will most certainly improve performance and results.


There are four benefits to having a mission-driven business:


  • Mission fosters customer engagement. A strong mission promotes brand differentiation, consumer passion, and brand engagement. Unfortunately, only about four in 10 employees (41%) know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors'. This lack of brand awareness is not a marketing problem; it is a mission-driven leadership and management problem.
  • Mission improves strategic alignment. Alignment begins with a clear purpose -- the what and why of the organization. Howwhowhen, and where are secondary to the enterprise's reason for existing. Mission can help leaders establish and balance priorities, set performance goals, and align rewards and compensation at all levels. If your company's mission includes a promise to provide world-class customer service, for example, then you should define and measure "world-class" service -- and hire employees who can deliver on that promise.
  • Mission brings clarity. Awareness of mission guides decision making and judgment. A clear sense of what matters most helps leaders determine the best path for the company and helps them set priorities. This clarity inspires conviction and dedication.
  • Mission can be measured. To maximize the value of mission and purpose, leaders need a reliable assessment of employees' attitudes about their work and how it connects with the company's purpose, such as their responses to the "mission and purpose" item in Gallup's Q12 employee engagement survey. Leaders and managers should use this information to guide them as they tackle the challenge of helping employees connect their work behaviors to the company's ultimate purpose.
Here are some additional thoughts on employee engagement from our firends at Nutcache.
Is your management team in alignment regarding the mission of your firm?
Has anyone asked them independently?
Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: dialog, alignment, mission, employee empowerment

10 Ways To Enhance Customer Engagement

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Mar, 20, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

raving fans referrals and word-of-mouth








As many of you know, I'm a raving fan of Chipotle. I've been eating there every day for more seven years. I've written a number of blogs about them and brought them a lot of new customers by introducing friends, family, colleagues and business associates.


If someone wants to meet with me at lunch, they know the best place to do so is at Chipotle. Any Chipotle, I'm not picky. In fact I like seeing the different restaurants.


When I travel, I know where the nearest Chipotle is to where I'm staying and where I'm working.


However, Chipotle, and many other firms, are missing the boat on keeping their loyal customers, promoters and raving fans engaged the way companies like Zappos, Apple, USAA, Ritz Carlton and Nordstrom do.


Following are 10 things any company can do to recognize their loyal customers and convert them into raving fans and more active promoters:


  1. Give them branded clothing. Ask them what they want. Some people like hats, others shirts. I've asked for a Chipotle dri-fit polo. I'm told they're only for managers -- really? You don't want me wearing my Chipotle polo when I go to the NCAA Tournament? Colleges and universities do a great job of getting alumni and fans to promote their brands, and paying Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Rawlings a lot of money to do so. Why don't all companies with loyal followings do the same?

  2. Give them a behind the scenes look at how things run. Again, some people may like this, others may not. I'd love to see how Chipotle prepares for the day. Others might like to be in one of your daily team meetings. Imagine how much your customers would learn and be able to inform others about your company and what you'd learn from your customer. I look forward to going on a tour of Zappos when I'm in Las Vegas for a conference. They're even picking me up at my hotel for the tour.

  3. Let your best customers speak to employees and tell them why they like your brand so much. Let your employees ask the customer questions and let the customer ask the employees questions. Again, think of what you'll learn from the exchange and how much of an emotional connection the customer will now have with your brand when they get to know the people that are your brand.

  4. Recognize loyal customers, promoters and raving fans -- publicly in your place of business and on social media. A free drink, putting their name on the welcome sign, using their name will go a long way to making a long-term positive impression on the customer.

  5. Handwritten thank you notes. In today's world of emails, a handwritten thank you note speaks volumes about how much you really care about the person as an individual. After my wife was in an auto accident she went to Panera for her daily coffee, she received a "get well" card signed by all of the employees. That card is still atop our kitchen counter nine months after the accident.

  6. Tchotchkes. Give them little gifts every now and then to remind them of how much you value their business. Think about what's relevant to your customer and will associate your business to them. An accounting firm may use a letter opener, a law firm or optometrist a screen cleaner. Brainstorm with your employees what your best customers might like to have from you.

  7. Discounts/gift cards. When I first started eating at Chipotle everyday, I'd get comped, once every 10 or times so I visited. Not any more. They know I'm going to be there every day, regardless. Don't ever take your customer for granted. Let them know you value their business and think of other things you can do to simplify their lives.

  8. Invite them to your annual meeting. What would you and your three biggest customers gain if your customers came to your annual meeting? Both parties would end up with a lot of insights. Since you would have more employees interacting with your three largest customers, you would be coming away with even greater insights and your employees would have a better understanding of your customers. A "win-win." 

  9. One-on-one's with managers, executives and researchers. Do you think your best customers might have some ideas on ways you could serve them, and others like them, better? Your best customers want to see you be successful. Ask them what you can do. They may also ask you what they can do to help you. Be prepared to tell them how they can best help you.

  10. Rewards. What is the ultimate reward you could give your best customers? A trip? A laptop case with your logo on it? A simple thank you? Ask your best customers what you can do for them to show them you value and appreciate their business.

Twenty percent of your customers account for 80% of your revenue and profit.


If you look more closely, I would bet that 4% of your customers account for about 64% of your revenue and profit (the 20:80 of the 20:80).


Do you know who those 4% are? You need to.


Also, have you identified the influencers that are passionate about your brand?


These customers do more marketing for your brand via word-of-mouth and social media than you are aware of.


Make it easy for them to do so and give them awesome experiences to share with their family, friends and colleagues.


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Tags: dialog, connecting emotionally with customers, customer engagement, raving fans, referrals