An integral part of building a successful retail brand is having a dedicated core of customers who love your store so much that they can’t keep themselves from recommending it to their family and friends.
What inspires this behavior?
Many brand managers are stymied by this question. They fall into an all-too-common mistake, acting as if their customers were an alien species of life, prone to completely incomprehensible behaviors that can’t possibly be understood, much less predicted.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Secret of Cult Branding: Your Customers Are People Just Like You
If you want to understand what motivates customers to enthusiastically recommend a brand, a great first step is to do some self-examination. You’re a customer. At times, you recommend brands, products, or services to people you know. It is an illuminating exercise to examine these recommendations.
What criteria do you use when you tell someone, for example, when they’re looking for a new car or where to take the must-impress client out to lunch?
Some of the criteria you use to make recommendations are rational: if we’re talking cars, items like fuel efficiency and safety records are rational.
Other factors are irrational, based on the nuanced world of emotion, personal experience, and cultural influences: when you recommend a car based on the fact that driving it makes you feel like a million bucks, that’s an irrational criterion.
Consider the brands you recommend and the brands you don’t: We all use a mix of rational and irrational criteria when making our purchasing decisions. When it comes time to make a recommendation, which set of criteria are most influential to you?
If you have the willingness to look within and truly examine your decision-making process, you’ll find that the irrational criteria play a significant role. The emotions we experience when we interact with a given brand are so important, they often become the sole determining factor that dictates whether or not we do business with that brand again.
This is just as true for your store’s customers as it is for you. When you understand the mix of rational and irrational factors that contribute to your decision to recommend a brand —or warn your family and friends away at all costs—it becomes much easier to grasp that the same dynamic is going on inside your customers’ head every time they make a purchasing decision.
Be A Better Brand Manager: The Essentials
Every week, you need to spend time with your customers. Talk with them. Listen to them. Spend time being present with them so you can understand who they are and what’s important to them. Social media makes this easier than ever.
Both rational and irrational factors influence customer behavior. Identify and articulate the rational and irrational factors that are most critical in motivating your best customers to choose and recommend you. It’s essential that you know what these are.
Communicate this information to your staff in a simple, easy-to-understand fashion on a regular basis. As your front line, they play a critical role in creating the experience that your customers value. Team meetings, signage, and even text messages reminding your staff about their important role help keep your store on-brand—and moving steadily toward success.