Picture this: You are the owner of ¡®Successfully Successful¡¯ ¨C an imaginary company that has everything going right for it. Your branding strategies are impeccable ¨C you believe that ¡®new¡¯ never gets ¡®old¡¯ and regularly update your gradually increasing products and services catalog, you diligently make your presence felt on Facebook and Twitter and are an advertising whiz when it comes to brand promotion. You don¡¯t worry even when your customers come and go, nor do you woo them back with corporate gifts or promotional items; because you know you won¡¯t run out of clients.
Brand Image ¨C Mission accomplished? No. Far from it! You have been looking inwards all the while and ignoring the one aspect that can give permanence to your brand identity – Customer loyalty. It is not my verdict alone, over 100 other individuals (104 to be precise) agreed with me when they chose customer loyalty over options like advertising, social media visibility, introducing new products/services etc in a recently concluded LinkedIn poll on the Best way to maintain your Brand Image.
|LinkedIn Poll Results for Maintaining A Brand Image|
Maintaining customer loyalty secured a whopping 41% of the votes from most business owners and individuals on the VP and management level.
As Carissa Siems,VP of Marketing at CAS Inc puts in her comment on the poll,
“effective branding starts with your own customer database. The loyalty of your customers is the greatest advertising you can ask for. Happy customers spread the word and get others involved in your brand. Branding encompasses all of the topics, but it all starts with your own customers.” True.
The simplest ways to maintain customer loyalty would be to¡
- Be prompt in your service. Prompter than your rival, actually.
- Keep your promises and if you don¡¯t hesitate to say sorry.
- Gift of appreciation can make apologies easier. Promotional items as corporate gifts. will leave them with fond memories of doing business with you.
- Take their feedback, and take it seriously.
And yeah, I agree with Wendy Soucie, a Social Media Consultant who says that the choices are also influenced by age.
“Its interesting that the youngest suggest social media visibility which your customers can find and interact with. The oldest poll responders suggest that maintaining customer loyalty is most important. In my opinion, these two are really the same but seen from different perspectives. Use social media to stay in front and accessible to your customers which will maintain customer loyalty. This also supports your brand while the customers become evangelists.“
After all, Social media today is not just about merely reaching out, its about reaching out to fulfill concrete goals like sales, creating brand identity and profits!
Though the option only got 14% of votes, I do believe that creative advertising as a means for brand promotion is going to get BIG. According to Barclays Capital, US advertising will increase by 3.5% to $167 billion in 2010 that should account for something.
Ok, now I will choose to disobey my diplomatic mind¡¯s contention that a combination of all of the above is a perfect recipe to maintain brand image, and go with the majority. (Though personally I think many of us picked customer loyalty, solely because we thought of ourselves as consumers first rather than entrepreneurs or professionals!)
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