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6 Ways of Attracting Loyal Fans to Your Business

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Tesla owners can give you numerous reasons why they believe their vehicle is superior to other makes and models, many a diehard Apple user would simply never switch to an Android device… and you’ll likely never catch a Starbucks enthusiast skipping their morning Caffè Misto or Pike Place ritual.

The results of such brands of customer engagement can seem over the top to some, but all business owners should take resulting lessons on the importance of attracting and developing raving fans. These loyal customers not only generate recurring revenue, but also positive buzz around products and services, and so influence other consumers’ buying habits.

Why are raving fans critical to success?

We all want customers to say nice things about our company, brand, products and services, but most business owners don’t understand how much of an impact that makes on the bottom line. Word of mouth drives approximately $6 trillion in global spending and roughly 13% of all sales. A majority of marketing experts (64%), meanwhile, agree that word of mouth is the most effective (and inexpensive) form of marketing, especially when customers become brand ambassadors by sharing experiences and encouraging friends and family to buy/participate.

The current economic climate is applying additional pressure: With high inflation and a potential recession on the horizon, consumers are being more cautious about where they spend. That said, they are less likely to cut spending on products and services that inspire passion, and can also help drum up new business, which means reduced dependence on marketing and advertising.

Related: 5 Proven Customer Loyalty Programs That Pay Actually Off

How to attract this class of customers?

1. Build a unique product or experience

Boring and/or redundant products are less likely to get praise, even from loyal customers, so the first step is offering something that stands out from the competition. Give people a reason to rave! And if your product is similar to others, then consider options like enhancing the customer experience, investing in great packaging or offering extended warranties.

2. Connect with a specific audience

Establishing a niche is critical. People naturally gravitate toward a brand that aligns with their interests. Niche communities are often tightly-knit, too; their members will likely know many similar people who’ll love what you have to offer.

3. Build feel-good stories on social media

According to We Are Social’s The Global State of Digital for October 2022, the world’s social media users grew by 190 million over the year prior, to 4.74 billion. Unfortunately, many companies use these platforms as opportunities to bombard consumers with bland marketing messages. Instead, make an effort to leverage yours to build authentic and feel-good stories about your company, its values and its products. This will make it far more likely that fans will repost and share messages with connections.

Related: Is Social Media Really That Important for Your Business?

4. Reward loyalty

The goal is to make your most ardent customers feel valued and important, which can be accomplished with something as simple as exclusive access to new products, unique content or special deals and discounts. Also consider customer loyalty programs (linked to tier levels) to encourage even more interaction and purchasing.

5. Exceed expectations

Nowadays, delivering exactly what’s promised is a blanket expectation, so taking this approach alone won’t develop cheering fans. Brands that go above and beyond, however, encourage people to share experiences with others. And achieving this needn’t be a massive effort: basic steps like making sure products are received before the anticipated delivery date can make a huge difference.

6. Listen

Customers are often willing to tell you a lot about what it would take to make them raving fans, so be sure to regularly gather and listen to feedback, suggestions and opinions. This can provide insights about pain points and enhance both a product and its customer experience, and there are many ways of gathering it, including customer surveys, product return details and social media outreaches.

Related: The Sales Game Has Changed. Here’s How to Keep Up.

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Entrepreneurship

Your Company’s Responsible Guide to Staying Profitable in a Recession

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The recent trend of easy money and exorbitant valuations has skidded to a halt amid recent economic volatility. Understandably, many companies rode that wave as long as they could, but in doing so many prioritized growth over sustainability and sound leadership. Layoffs continue to ripple through the tech ecosystem, so employees both in this sector and elsewhere are feeling the consequences.

Having to let go of staff members is all but unavoidable in a company’s lifecycle, but there is always more that can be done to keep businesses afloat while preserving morale. Strategies can include responsible budgetary decision-making, thoughtful and prudent responses to external pressures and transparent dialogue with employees, to name a few. Such actions can help companies remain healthy, productive and profitable, even as they navigate challenging waters.

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This is What You Need in Your 5-Year Marketing Plan

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We’ve all heard the interview question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Marketers routinely take that question and apply it to their marketing strategies. They figure out what they want to achieve and then develop actionable steps to get there. Keep in mind, these plans aren’t designed to be all-encompassing. They serve as a guidebook for different scenarios while getting the team thinking about what they’d like to accomplish long-term.

Your five-year plan is a way to build an overarching metric for how you’re doing — or how you plan to do over the next half-decade. There are many things to consider when building your plan — here are a few to look at carefully:

The 3 key buckets

A successful five-year marketing plan should fixate on three main questions:

  1. What assumptions can you make about the next five years within your company?
  2. What goals do you want to achieve?
  3. What are the metrics you’ll use to measure those goals?

Assumptions are what you think won’t change in the business over the next five years. For example, you might assume that you will continue using particular vendors or that packaging costs will remain stable. From there, you can determine your goals — like boosting sales by 50% or converting 10,000 new customers. The metrics that measure your progress might be units sold or your company’s market share. It’s essential to include both readily-accessible metrics — such as website views — and brand metrics that might be a bit harder to come by, such as the associations your customers have made with your products or company.

Importantly, there’s no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to answering these questions. Every business has its own vision, resources and position, which all influence its marketing strategy. The aim is to develop a plan that will produce the most desirable outcome for you, rather than worrying about what other businesses have the capacity to do.

Related: Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan

Narrowing your focus

Just like consumer preferences, marketing tactics are constantly shifting. Social media demonstrates this well. Because social media platforms have skyrocketed over the past two decades, marketers no longer rely solely on traditional platforms such as print or television ads. And even within social media, things aren’t constant. TikTok has become one of the fastest-growing platforms, quickly overtaking Facebook.

With so many options, your marketing plan must keep a narrow focus. For some companies, TikTok doesn’t matter. They can’t yet measure the return they’re getting from the platform, so this isn’t exactly a feasible opportunity. Don’t be tempted to try everything or be everywhere. It’s a matter of isolating what you practically can use to give you the insights that will help you.

Two questions will help focus your strategy:

  • How do your goals compare to last year?
  • What are you striving for (e.g., enhancing the brand vs. increasing brand awareness)?

How you answer those questions will help you identify where and how to focus your efforts so you don’t get lost in a bunch of small, irrelevant tactics.

Using your budget

Most people think of budgets as being stable or hard data — but almost all companies work with unknowns. In reality, the best they can do is come up with an educated guess that seems to make sense – a ballpark range. Because nobody can plan with certainty for every scenario — and because it’s so easy to become overwhelmed with an infinite range of outcomes — it’s advisable to lean on a few key financial assumptions and build a strategy around those.

Once you have a budget figure to work with, create high and low projections for everything you want to do. Let’s say the aim is to get to 50% brand awareness. What would your plan look like if you exceeded that and got to 75%? Alternatively, what would you do if awareness went down to 25%? Creating these high and low projections will let you design a more flexible approach and avoid being caught too off guard.

As you come up with your main scenarios and high-low projections, think about the key internal drivers you’ll need to address next year. Consider the risks, and assess whether you’ll have the data, technology and skills to develop and maintain what you expect to put forward. Keep in mind that it’s more important to pivot when issues come up than to predict what’s going to happen accurately.

Related: 4 Tips for Developing a Marketing Plan That Will Actually Grow Your Business

Paint flexibly within your broad strokes

A five-year marketing plan paints a broad, long-term picture of how you’ll communicate with your audience while giving details about your projected products or services. It includes assumptions and factors that aren’t necessarily static, so you have to approach it with a grain of salt and be ready to shift gears if the plan doesn’t work.

Even so, if you stick to three key buckets (assumptions, goals and metrics), keep your tactical focus narrow and incorporate multiple projections in your budget, you should end up with a strategy that blends the data and flexibility needed to strive in a changing world. Because annual marketing plans need to connect to your long-term marketing vision, let the annual marketing meetings serve as check-in points to keep your longer-term marketing plan relevant and viable.

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Lauren Sánchez Is Heading to Space on a Girls Trip

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Sorry, Jeff — this one is for the girls.


Jeff Spicer / Stringer I Getty Images

The Amazon executive chairman’s girlfriend, a former journalist who collaborates with him on philanthropy, is bringing a girl gang to space

Jeff Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sánchez, said in a new interview with the Wall Street Journal that she planned to take an all-female trip to space with the Amazon founder’s space manufacturing company, Blue Origin.

Five women will join her on the journey.

“It’s going to be women who are making a difference in the world and who are impactful and have a message to send,” she told the outlet.

The mission is set for early 2024, and the passengers’ names will be announced at a later date.

The WSJ’s report was Sánchez’s first solo interview, the outlet noted, since her relationship with Bezos went public in 2019, shortly after his divorce announcement from now ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott.

The interview also talks about Sánchez’s relationship with Bezos and the business advice he’s given her (keeping meetings under an hour, speaking last as a boss).

Sánchez is a former broadcast journalist and a helicopter pilot who founded her own filming company Black Ops Aviation, per Insider.

“Right now, I’m immersing myself in philanthropy and strategic giving,” she told the outlet. She also has a new production company, Adventure & Fellowship.

Bezos and Sánchez also work together on picking the winner for the Bezos Award for Courage & Civility, which was awarded to Dolly Parton in 2022, giving her $100 million to dole out to charities as she pleased.

But don’t expect Bezos to crash the girls’ trip. “He’ll be cheering us all on from the sidelines,” Sánchez said, adding that Bezos is “excited to make this happen with all of these women… He’s very encouraging and excited, and he’s thrilled we’re putting this group together.”

Sánchez’s nonprofit work includes This Is About Humanity, which helps give supplies to kids separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, supporting the Bezos Earth Fund, which fights climate change, and working with the Bezos Academy, a system of free Montessori schools.

Bezos told CNN in an exclusive that aired in mid-November that, like many other billionaires have pledged to do, he would give away most of his money.

Ex-wife Scott, meanwhile, has donated over $14 billion since 2019, much of it coming from the settlement with Bezos.

Bezos has always planned on giving his money away, Sánchez told the outlet.

“Jeff has always told me since I’ve known him that he’s going to give the majority of his money to philanthropy,” she said.

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