Brand Loyalty Is Becoming Increasingly Important. Is It Part Of Your Marketing Plan?
If you take your brand for granted, your customers and prospects will, too. And you know the old saying: out of sight, out of mind. Even the world’s best-known brands go to great lengths to make sure you don’t forget their name or their products. No one wants to risk a downturn in brand loyalty.
There’s a bottom-line reason for that. It costs less to retain an existing customer than to recruit a new one. Building repeat business increases revenue while reducing expenses. Every retail or service business owner knows that. And your dealership is both a retail and a service enterprise. So brand loyalty is doubly important if your business is to grow and thrive.
However, it’s more complicated than that
You have multiple brands to protect as well as promote — your own dealership brand as a business plus the OEM equipment and accessory brands you sell. Your goal is to develop loyal relationships with customers who automatically look to your dealership for all their purchasing and post-purchase needs. That’s long-term loyalty.
That’s made more difficult if prospects are inclined (or even tempted) to buy brands you don’t sell. On the plus side, customers who are loyal to the brands you do carry are automatically inclined to buy from you.
But there’s more. Studies have proven that loyal customers don’t merely look to your when they need to make a purchase, they actually buy more often. And they spend more on average when they buy. It literally pays in multiple ways to build strong customer relationships.
Building brand loyalty takes concerted effort.
Making friends is only the first step
We all appreciate businesses that consistently provide great service along with great products. No doubt your dealership is one of them. After all, people prefer to do business with people they like. Got it.
Unfortunately, today’s customers want more than a friendly “handshake” type of experience. Fabulous, personalized service is no longer enough to secure brand loyalty. Yes, those factors are still crucial – and you don’t dare slack off in that regard — but niceness and follow-through won’t automatically bring you continued success. To stand out you must deliberately nurture customer relationships that drive loyalty. And that means you must include brand-building tactics into your dealership marketing plan.
So let’s get down to it
In the construction industry, customers have more brands to choose from than ever before. Caterpillar may be the best-selling brand, but they aren’t the only one. And just because your dealership doesn’t sell CATs does not mean your brand is a DOG! With your line-up of quality equipment and attachments, you, too, can create a distinctive, go-to brand.
Bear in mind that it took the folks at Caterpillar many years to acquire a loyal customer base. Bear in mind, too, that even their customers may be on the lookout for an alternative. There are good reasons the marketplace includes dozens of brands, not just one. Branding is about quality and differentiation, whether we’re talking about products or services.
And thanks to the internet, you have as much access as anyone
No technological advancement has done more to level the playing field among businesses than the internet. Your prospects and customers have unlimited access to unlimited information, without ever giving your dealership a thought. Your job is to make them think of your dealership – first and always – when they’re ready to take that next step, whether it’s getting a first-hand look at a machine or signing on the dotted line.
Surely by now your dealership is focused with laser-like efficiency on digital marketing. The digital world is where you and your audience connect – in ways and at times that work best for them. (Doing things their way is a branding plus as well as more functionally effective.) With a well-constructed website and well-planned social media presence, you have the ability to put your name, products, and services in front of exactly the prospects you want most.
Add email, texting, etc. to the mix, and you have the ability to stay in touch (and top of mind) with current customers as well as new leads. Three factors will drive branding success for your dealership:
- Clearly-defined marketing targets. You have several (buyers, renters, sales and service customers, and sub-groups within those). The better you understand each target group, the better your chances of swaying them in your direction. What are their most pressing business problems or concerns? How can your dealership solve those problems? Tell them. And put that information in places they are most likely to look – your website, specific social platforms, etc.
- Zoom in on prospects who aren’t already committed to some other brand. If they’re on the fence or new to the industry, that old-time #1 nemesis whose name starts with “C” won’t mean so much to them. That can be a tremendous advantage for you, as long as you work it. Don’t lose sight of the fact that new OEMs are gaining ground because they have something distinctive to offer. Focus on that.
- Analyze! Study your digital marketing results to learn what’s working and what is not. Mine your existing customer data to learn everything you can about their wants, needs, and buying habits, then design your marketing so it speaks directly to those issues.
Just don’t give up. Brand loyalty is essential, but it takes time to establish and commitment to retain. You can do it. And as you do, your dealership will grow right along with that increasingly-loyal customer base.