The holy grail of all freelance entrepreneurs!
Brand loyalty creates a fervent tribe of devout customers that buy your products and services, come back and buy more, and sing your praises to everyone they meet.
Revenue-driving and word-of-mouth spreading – all of their own accord!
But it takes time and effort to take someone from knowing nothing about you to becoming your no.1 fan.
And in this article, I’m gonna show you how.
At the end of it, you’ll know the 5 key stages you need to take your audience through to develop a seriously strong loyalty to your brand.
We’re all told to do it. Get loyal customers.
But no-one actually breaks down HOW.
What you’ll usually see is people diving straight into the specific tactics. How to use (insert your tool/social platform/community forum) to do it.
Now these tactics are great and have their place. But without understanding the overall process – the reasons behind the how, you’ll never be able to mould your entire brand experience into a loyalty-building machine.
A lot of people say that brand loyalty is dead. I see it bandied all round the internet.
Brand loyalty isn’t dead. I can assure you.
Loyalty is the ultimate state of love, respect and trust of someone or something.
How can that die??
If you can get your audience to love, respect and trust your brand, you WILL create loyal customers over time.
So here’s how you do it…
We all want something.
A certain experience, result, status or feeling.
And we as entrepreneurs create products, services, brands and businesses to appeal to those wants.
So everything therefore needs to start with an understanding. An in-depth understanding of your audience – their wants and desires. Their pains and frustrations. Their personality and values.
If you don’t know who you’re doing something for, how can you know what to actually do?
This involves a lot of research.
Go to the places they hang out online. Read what they say. Ask their opinions. Interact with them and find out everything about them.
When you’re 100% sure on whether they want to feel excited and energised or calm and relaxed. When you definitely know if they want practical step-by-step advice on how to do something or real life motivational success stories. When you’re sure about helping them perfect their social media presence over email automation…
You’re ready to tailor everything you do to those desires. To what they want and how they want it done. Build your products, services, sales pitches and brand identity around it.
Be something they’re magnetically drawn to. Peak their curiosity. Entice their interest.
And then move onto the next stage.
When you know that someone or something can fulfill your desire, you start to anticipate your desire being fulfilled.
That sounds quite trite. But it boils down to achievability.
If you desire something that’s out of reach, it will always be an unfulfilled wish. If however, someone suddenly makes your desire a realistically achievable thing for you, you’ll start to work towards that goal. To attain it.
It’s your job then to build anticipation into habit.
Tell them you have exactly what they want and give it to them. Be specific about it. Take them on a mental journey of where they are now to where they want to be – their ideal.
The more you show someone how you can help them, the more they’ll want your help.
This constant reinforcement builds anticipation. An anticipation of change. Of one step closer to their ideal each time.
And that’s the crux of it. To build anticipation and turn it into habit (a key part of loyalty), you need to have a consistent, regular and definite schedule of delivery.
Think about it. Let’s say there’s a new design tool that you want. It’s epic. It’ll make your blog look incredible. But the release date is sometime in the next 2 or 3 years – maybe. That doesn’t go a long way to building the anticipation.
Now what if that tool was definitely going to be available in 2 months time. Suddenly you’re picturing yourself using it. You’re planning it into your life and business. Because there’s a concrete moment in time when your desire will be fulfilled.
It doesn’t have to be a one-off either.
Think about TV shows. They come out each week on a specific day. You look forward to that day, that time, every week. Because you know you’ll get your fix of entertainment, of feeling good.
Keep doing that time and time again, and that anticipation will become habit – something your audience will do of their own accord without you having to prompt them.
I know never to miss an episode of Game Of Thrones. The PR and Marketing teams don’t need to remind me it’s on each week!
You know what your audience wants.
You keep moving through that journey from where they are now to where they could be.
Now it’s all about how you do it.
We are sensory creatures. It’s the way we naturally assimilate information.
Through sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.
Each of these can be used as part of your overall brand experience. To influence perception, emotion and behaviour. It’s all about brand psychology.
As a professional blogger, your business will be mainly online. That means how your brand looks – its visual design – and how it sounds – its aural design are the main methods you should be using to hook your target market.
If you have a physical product, then the feel and weight of it will influence the perception of quality. If you run events or have a bricks and mortar presence like a shop, spa or restaurant etc., then how the environment sounds and smells will play a huge part. If you produce food, then the taste of it will be another part that makes up your overall brand.
All you sensory experiences need to be consistent and work together as a whole.
Do you want someone to feel relaxed? Whip out those pastel colours, calm imagery, soft tones and subtle scents.
Want someone to feel energised? Pump out the beat-driven music, the bold, striking colours, athletic imagery and fresh, powerful scents.
How we experience something sparks the hook. If it makes us feel good the first time, then we’ll want to feel good a second.
Make sure you’re using the sensory parts of your brand to full effect.
As I said however, this stage is just the hook, the invitation. The next stage is what keeps and converts them!
Experiences can be epic! But they can fade quickly if we have no-one to share them with.
It’s always the people that turn good times into great ones.
It’s no exception for your brand.
Your audience want to interact with you. To know you. Your personality, thoughts, values and beliefs.
They want to feel like they belong to something greater than themselves. To know they’re not alone.
To be part of a select and accepting group; knowing that we’re in like-minded company makes us feel safe.
You must not only develop the connection between yourself and your audience, but you also have to be the facilitator of relationships between your audience members themselves.
Relationships build trust. And trust builds loyalty.
The better the relationship you can help create, the more your audience will welcome you into their lives.
Speak to them regularly through your blog, video and podcast content. Ask for their comments. Create a community and get people to join. Use email to keep the conversation flowing. Speak to them. Listen to them.
There’s a reason why people become fanatical about certain sports teams, about certain online games, about certain religions. It’s because of the strong communities behind them.
Make your brand a place for people to grow in, not a product vending machine.
We remember the things we love. Simple as that.
You’ll never forget something that moved you. That made you feel good. That inspired you.
You’ll never forget a brand that helped you become the best you can be.
Do everything right in the previous 4 steps, and love for you brand and lasting memories will be your reward.
We become loyal to the things we trust, love and remember.
That’s the whole point of building a brand. A brand is a relationship with your audience. An ultimate journey of loyalty.
It’s not easy to create loyalty. But you can definitely do it!
It takes a lot of time, effort and bloody hard work. But it’s worth it.
If you’re making sure that you know your audience inside-out, you’re speaking to and fulfilling their desires, you’re consistent and habit-forming in your delivery, you’re using your brand’s sensory aspects to influence perception, emotion and behaviour, you’re building strong relationships and communities, and you’re giving them everything they need to remember you above anyone else…
Loyalty will follow.
You’ll need to put a lot of work in up front. It’ll seem fruitless and frustrating at times. You’ll want to quit.
Keep going. Push through the barrier. I promise there’s light on the other side.
It takes businesses years to build fanatical followings.
Just remember that everything you do is growing that loyalty with people.
What are your audience’s desires? What can you help them with? What sort of personalities do they have and how are you appealing to them? What are you doing to build relationships and communities?
I’d love to know! Post up in the comments section below!