Offering your customers a product they need will not cut it anymore. There are at least 10 competitors selling the exact same product as you and thus it is important that you get repeat business.
So what can you do to get repeat business and an edge over competitors? You need to offer the best customer experience.
According to HubSpot, 50% of loyal customers have left a brand just because other brands were better satisfying their needs.
That is how hard it has become to retain customers.
Fortunately, I have some tips and tricks up my sleeve that I’ve gained from experience as well as extensive research on the biggest marketing trends and how they can help your business:
#1. Create a strong brand identity
Branding is one of the first and foremost things that you need to have as a business entity today.
If you’re selling running shoes, so are Nike, Adidas and a number of other smaller brands and resellers that will offer you the same shoes at lesser prices.
So why would a customer pay more for Nike or Adidas? It’s their brand identity.
The first thing you need to do is come up with the right mission statement.
One of the biggest mistakes brands make is come up with a product-oriented mission statement.
Your mission statement should be short, focused on the long term, inspire your employees and be market-oriented.
Alibaba, the e-commerce giant and one of the biggest competitors of Amazon, has a great mission statement:
Instead of focusing on the products that they sell, Alibaba has focused on the ease of doing business in both B2B and B2C markets, all in a short sentence.
By clarifying your purpose, you create a goal that your employees work towards as well.
Plus, the biggest benefit of a market-oriented mission statement is that if you ever plan to change or even entirely revamp your product portfolio, you can still follow your mission statement.
Next, you need to offer a Unique Selling Proposition.
Why should customers buy from you out of 10 or more other offerings in the market?
Offer the best prices, quality, skilled labour, convenience or any other aspect that you feel like you can strive in.
Apple is a trillion-dollar company today because it invented the most innovative smartphone 2 decades ago.
Despite a market that is crowded with new and old competitors like Huawei, OnePlus, Samsung and many more – Apple remains the leading brand due to its branding which it built ages ago.
Often, your unique selling point could be intangible.
Apple offers the same features as other smartphone manufacturers but it offers exclusivity. Those who have an iPhone are considered elite.
Extensive research has shown that Apple’s customers buy its products due to the feeling of exclusivity that they get on top of the features that it offers, and that’s something none of us can deny!
Thus, don’t limit yourself to tangible USPs only.
Coke sells its drinks promising happiness – and somehow, that is how customers feel now because the perception that the brand has built is so strong.
Find something unique that no other brand is doing to get a strong edge over competitors.
#2. Consistently improve service quality
Like I said, customers today are willing to pay more for the overall customer experience.
To create what millennials call ‘a wholesome experience’, offer facilitating and complimentary services.
Facilitating services are those that are essential to the core product or offering.
These would be order taking, billing, etc.
Your job is to offer the best of these services. A great example is Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) systems.
A lot of restaurants have offered these to create convenience for customers.
The waiter brings a gadget (usually an iPad) to tables ready for billing:
Customers can easily enter their information and make payments digitally, creating transparency and ease of use.
Shopify offers a great mPOS system.
In the case of EMV based POS system (EMV referring to EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa), things become more easier for customers as they can pay directly from the wallet app on their phone:
If you’re looking to invest in an mPOS system, check out this guide which compares some of the best brands and what they have to offer.
Then, we move onto complimentary services.
These are also known as enhancing services because they improve the overall experience with add-ons which the customer did not pay for, for example, I get served coffee (which tastes great) at the regular salon that I go to.
Since I’m not billed for it and the quality of the complimentary service is good, it adds to the overall experience of each visit; thus, strengthening my loyalty to the brand.
However, this is something that most businesses already offer. What you need to do is offer something unique.
As you may already know, voice search is one of the newest marketing trends.
A lot of banks are taking advantage of this to offer hands-free banking services through voice recognition.
A customer’s voice acts as their password and allows them to conduct safe banking via their phones as well.
5 years ago, voice recognition software wasn’t so accurate.
Today, however, it is considered one of the most convenient ways of making searches, placing orders, etc.
Check out Ben Thompson from BBC testing the voice-recognition system offered by his bank:
If there’s any department in your business that can take advantage of voice recognition, I’d say go for it because it will be one of the biggest norms less than a decade from now and being a first-mover will give you a great edge over competitors.
#3. Always incorporate referrals
You’ll notice that after the product itself, the biggest thing that drives customers to buy a product is great deals.
So if you want to get repeat business, you need to offer the right deals.
In my years in the marketing industry, I’ve seen one deal that can never go wrong.
It may not prove to be effective if not marketed right, but it has never gotten negative results.
These are referral deals.
They’re broadly categorized and offer great rewards to customers who refer friends and family – either they get a discount, a donation is made in their name, they can subscribe to a plan for free, they get an upgrade, exclusive memberships, mystery gifts and so much more.
Not only does this get your brand new customers, but it also saves you the effort of marketing your brand towards potential customers.
This is because your loyal customers are making this effort for you in return for a reward.
To make sure that this is effective, you need to have extremely strong brand loyalty because your existing customers will only act as advocates if they truly love it.
Airbnb has one of the most famous referral programs which are not only limited to guests but also its hosts:
With guests, here’s how it works. If you get a friend to sign up with Airbnb and book a rental, you’ll be awarded travel credits that you could later exchange for a rental stay, experiences, upgrades etc.
#4. Retarget existing customers
Firstly, you need to enable cookies in order to retarget customers. Only when your website visitors accept cookies, they allow you to track their movements online and then target them accordingly.
This is great for targeting first-time customers. In fact, the faster they see your ad after visiting your website, the more likely they are to convert (more specifically, retargeted ads increase engagement by 400%!).
It doesn’t get any better than that.
However, the real success in marketing is when you’re able to retarget existing customers in order to gain repeat business.
This is an old trick that I’ve discussed in my previous articles as well.
Calculate the life span of each of your products or offerings.
For example, a good pedicure would perhaps last 2-3 months.
Record the date of each transaction and send out a text to your customers reminding them to come back for another relaxed spa day.
The majority of your customers will take you up on this and book an appointment because they’ll notice their skin getting dull again and you’ve reminded them of that.
However, if you’re not seeing desired results, throw in a 10% discount, an upgrade or coupons.
Trust me, retargeting customers in times of need will give you a maximum turnout.
#5. Choose your products carefully
Another very important thing about stimulating repeat purchases is the type of products you sell.
Clothes wear out after a while, bulbs fuse, shoes tear and similarly, a lot of other products have a limited life.
Services cannot be stored so you’ll easily get repeat purchases if your overall service quality is good.
However, there are some products such as phones, electrical appliances, gadgets etc. that could last years – and some even a lifetime.
This is the type of product range that can prove to be very difficult when stimulating repeat business.
What some retailers do is that they add faulty or low-quality parts to force customers back for repurchase.
Let’s not forget that Apple did the same thing.
They slowed down the performance of older models so that consumers would be forced to switch to newer ones.
The company was forced to pay a settlement of $500 million and it’s best to steer clear of this practice no matter how difficult it may be to make sales.
Luckily, there is a way out that will ensure profits through repeat business while making sure you offer top-notch products.
The first, as I already mentioned, is a referral program.
Sales for products with a longer life can be boosted through referrals. However, existing customers will only refer your products if they are of great quality.
Offer both the customer and the friend an extended warranty to build trust so that customers feel comfortable referring your product to others.
The second thing you need to focus on is maintenance.
If you target the same products to customers who have already purchased it, you’d be wasting marketing resources.
Instead, target ads for maintenance towards them.
Phone battery dying out due to excessive usage? Show customers that a battery replacement would cost them a mere $50-$100 rather than upgrading their phone which would cost at least 10 times more.
Similarly, laptop chargers require a replacement every 1-3 years. That’s half the life of a good laptop, which means you can target ads to customers at the right time.
Lastly, you can also come up with product accessories that your customers can buy.
Target a home theatre sound system ad to customers that have bought a TV.
Target car scents, window shades, floor mats and other accessories to your clients that bought a car from you.
All of this done at the right time will ensure that your customers keep coming to you with repeat business and that you are their go-to for everything.
Repeat business is a crucial aspect of a brand’s success.
There are a number of marketing efforts, some that I mentioned above and many more out there that can stimulate repeat purchases.
However, they will only be effective if two variables are in place – the first is timing and the second is the right marketing tactics for YOUR business.
The latter is something very important to understand because every business is unique.
Even if you’re selling the same products as your competitors, not all the same marketing tactics will work for you.
This is why they say that following other brands and copying marketing tactics will never bring success to your brand.
Always focus on creativity because innovators and first movers always have the upper hand. Apple is successful today because of everything that it implemented decades ago.
Think out of the box, come up with the most unique ideas that others aren’t using. Take advantage of underutilized marketing trends to be on the safer side and make sure you utilize your resources smartly.