Brand loyalty is an essential part of growing and sustaining your business. Loyal customers spend more than new customers and create a base of success that you can rely on month-after-month. Plus, the more loyal your customers are, they better you can fare through difficult times such as a dip in the economy or a new competitor opening across the street.
The good news is that you don’t need expensive brand loyalty programs or over-the-top customer rewards to keep people coming back through your doors.
Here are five engaging ways to get people who are in your store or waiting area to form a deeper connection with your brand.
1. Create Hands-On In-Store Experiences and Activities
Have you ever seen the opening of a new Bass Pro Shop? The lines stretch around the corner as people get ready to explore their outdoor gear and in-store activities. Bass Pro does a great job of creating in-store experiences. Even customers who don’t like to spend time in the outdoors or care much for fishing or hunting can still enjoy walking through the store and checking out the gear, fish, and activities.
Hands-on in-store activities build brand loyalty because they play on the concept of experiential marketing.
Eighty percent (80%) of customers say that they are more inclined to buy a product that comes with free samples or live demonstrations. Even if a customer doesn’t buy the product (or anything for that matter) on their first visit, they are likely to come back for it later.
If you’re not a Bass Pro fan, check out the classes at Sur la Table for another example. By taking a class, customers improve their cooking skills and make friends, all while learning how their top products work.
2. Turn Sales Into Events
There are some brands that seem to have in-store sales every week. In the auto industry, every day is “the best time to buy a car,” while retailers like Macy’s and Kohl's constantly have some sale or discount that they’re promoting.
However, strategic brands turn their sales into events to bring more customers in.
Compare a sale at J.C. Penney to one at Victoria’s Secret. Victoria’s Secret typically only has two semi-annual sales and customers flock to them. Their products are deeply discounted, and most people know they won’t get a deal like this again for another six months.
While you don’t need to make dramatic price cuts to have an eventful sale, you can build activities around your sale or that engage shoppers and show customer appreciation. Like Victoria’s Secret, your sales can build brand loyalty by causing people to stock up, but they also create a festive atmosphere for shoppers and staff that leave people feeling happy about your store long after they leave.
3. Advertise Promotions Through In-Store Signage
While your most loyal customers might see your offers on Facebook, through your website, and in your email blasts, the vast majority of customers likely have no idea about your loyalty programs or promotions. You need to let these customers know about your offers while they are in your store.
Educating customers is an essential part of building brand loyalty.
The Rule of Seven states that customers need to hear your brand messaging seven times before they remember it. So you need to get your brand in front of your audience over and over to leave a lasting impression.
The first time someone enters your business, they experience so much visual and mental stimulation that they can’t focus on your promotions or consider whether or not it is a good deal. The second time they might be able to better consider it. By the fourth or fifth time they buy from you, they may take action on your offer.
So you must repeatedly connect and educate your customers through in-store digital signage, information at check-out, and displays in other areas where customers might linger -- like a waiting room. This allows you to promote your messages multiple ways at multiple times which makes your content (and brand) more memorable.
4. Promote Your Exclusive and Private Label Brands
Stores often have private label brands that they design, develop, and sell. For example, J.C. Penney has St. John's Bay and Arizona brands that are exclusive to their stores. These brands have higher gross margin levels because the company doesn’t have to pay to license brands like Nike or Adidas.
It is in J.C. Penney’s best interest to promote these brands financially, but also to improve their brand loyalty. If customers love an exclusive brand, they are more likely to return to their stores to get it. Meanwhile, if they just promote Nike or non-exclusive brands, customers can go to any other store to find them.
If you don’t have private label items in your stores, promote your exclusive products or services that customers can’t get elsewhere.
These can range from a special latte or cocktail at a bar to a unique body treatment or massage at a spa. If you can get customers hooked on these unique items, you will keep them from trying other brands because they know that your brand offers the best options.
5. Train Your Staff to Build Positive Experiences
The best in-store marketing efforts can be horribly derailed by a bad experience. Some of these problems are out of your hands. However, the vast majority are in your control.
Hold regular staff training so your team members understand the role they play in the in-store experience. Stress the importance of helping customers and maintaining a healthy demeanor while providing solutions for diffusing tense situations.
If customers remember your store because your staff is cheerful and helpful, you can build enough positive emotions to keep brand loyalty going strong for years.
Build Brand Loyalty With Better In-Store Marketing
In-store marketing is the perfect way to create better customer experiences that lead to deeper and longer lasting brand loyalty. But that’s not all it can do.
Learn even more about what you can do with in-store marketing (such as increase sales, upsell existing customers, and bring shoppers back again and again) in our ebook: The Ultimate Guide to In-Store Marketing.