Experts agree that consumers are more likely to buy something from businesses with whom they have established an emotional tie. While that sounds right, too often entrepreneurs are purely focused on the transaction – not relationship building with the customer. As such, entrepreneurs would be wise to ensure that their sales and marketing practices create an emotional bond with their target market.
As Roger Dooley wrote in his Neuromarketing blog, “Campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well” when compared with those with only rational content (summing up a finding of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in Hamish Pringle and Peter Field’s Brand Immortality).
BOLDFACE CEO Randy Fenton stated in a recent interview that relationship building is especially important to start-ups. Fenton stated that “start ups are often times undercapitalized and rely heavily on word of mouth to generate sales. We need to focus on winning over every customer because those customers will share their positive experiences with their friends and family. And nothing we say can ever match the influence they have over their networks.”
But connecting with a brand at an emotional level can happen with big brands as well. As a teen playing club sports, I wore uniforms made by Adidas. I connected the good times of playing and winning tournaments with my jersey’s logo.
Today as an adult, I like to think that I make rational decisions, but in truth many of my preferences are in part based on my emotions: So it’s no surprise that the Adidas name appears on my shorts, shirts and socks (and many of my current soccer heroes also wear this brand).
During one of my KCAA Money Talk radio shows I welcomed as a guest Ian Tenenbaum, the CEO of subscription-box provider Paw Pack, which delivers monthly care packages such as pet treats and chewable toys.
“There’s nothing an animal lover loves more than their dog or cat going nuts over some new toy or treat,” Tenenbaum said, highlighting the role that emotions play in pet owners’ purchasing decisions.
Money Talk co-host Aaron M. Sanchez suggested that the emotional tie-in plays a role and not just in the initial purchase but also in repeat sales. After all, it’s easier to cancel a subscription when there’s no emotional attachment, he said.
Too often entrepreneurs focus entirely on ways to win a share of consumers’ wallets but they fail to consider the importance of winning over their hearts, minds and emotions. During my small business workshops I advise small business owners to find ways to make it difficult for customers to leave them by creating an emotional bond.
The following are three tips to do so and improve customer retention and sales:
1. Make the customer a priority.
I still remember the phrase on my paycheck from my pizza-shop employer when I a teen: “This check is made possible by our customers.”
I am too often astounded when I experience business owners treating customers poorly and then complaining about lackluster sales. In today’s competitive environment, anyone who thinks the business is about himself (or herself) and not the customer is best served by shutting it as quickly as possible and limiting losses.
Entrepreneurs must determine their customers’ pain points and address them.
For example, the owner of coffee shop Java Man in Hermosa Beach, Calif., has realized that many patrons visit while walking their dogs. To create an emotional bond, the owner provides fresh water in bowls, thereby making coffee customers extremely happy that someone cared enough to also give their thirsty dogs a drink.
Likewise, the Ralph’s supermarket in Manhattan Beach, Calif., understands that many parents endure the food shopping experience with fussy children and provides free balloons to kids. This keeps a delighted child occupied, perhaps giving the parent more time to shop and spend.
2. Get close, interact and listen.
The best way to find out what a customer thinks about a product or service is by asking. Too often business owners fail to actively listen to their customers. Businesses that repeatedly listen to customers and act on the information can earn a special place in their customers’ hearts.
Entrepreneurs can tap online survey tools like Constant Contact, Survey Money and Mail Chimp to gain feedback about customer sentiment.
By asking questions, the entrepreneur will learn customers’ pain points and can develop solutions, demonstrating a level of caring. The process of problem solving through listening may elevate the business in the consumers’ minds.
3. Develop the company’s personality.
I preach constantly in my workshops that “people do business with people” not companies, brands or ideas. But I think there’s one exception: People also do business with companies that they perceive as having a personality.
One way an organization can develop a personality and create an emotional tie with customers is through social media, in the tone of updates and the content shared.
Entrepreneurs should leverage social media to develop their companies’ voice. A thoughtful social-media strategy can turn a company into more of a friend and less of a business.