Building brand loyalty is an important part of any small business marketing plan, but businesses today must get creative to help improve customer connections with the brand. Research routinely shows that customers who feel a personal connection to a brand feel that the company has fulfilled a need in their lives.
If you're concerned that you might be spreading your resources thinly by focusing intently on the personal connection your customers may enjoy with your brand, you might be interested to learn what the Harvard Business Review has to say on the subject:
"Our research across hundreds of brands in dozens of categories shows that the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level – tapping into their fundamental motivations and fulfilling their deep, often unspoken emotional needs… That means appealing to any of dozens of “emotional motivators” such as a desire to feel a sense of belonging, to succeed in life, or to feel secure."
Think of the companies from which you make purchases on a regular basis. You probably have a favorable opinion about some of those companies, and thinking about them might even make you happy. Maybe you're a huge Starbucks fan, and that first cup of coffee in the morning is one of the happiest parts of your day. Whether you realize it or not, you probably have an emotional connection to the company.
Essential Methods for Fostering Customer Connections With Your Brand
The methods you use to inspire connections between your brand and your customers will vary depending on many factors like your industry, your budget, and the way you sell your products or services. Are you primarily an online venture where your website is the lifeblood of your ability to sell products? Do you operate out of a small retail shop on "Main Street USA"?
What you'll want to remember about any effort you make to help customers connect with your brand is that it should feel positive. Scare tactics and anything that paints the future as anything other than completely rosy won't inspire dedication and loyalty within your customers, nor will it help them form a beneficial, emotional connection to your business.
Here are some of the overall ideas that should permeate your plans to form emotional customer connections.
- Success in the future – Your business should help your customer find success in some area of their life whether it's in waking up more easily in the morning with your company's trendy coffee, or it's getting their taxes done without hassle by your accounting team.
- Concern for the environment – Today's consumers are very aware of how their actions impact the environment, and they actively seek out companies that care about the environment, too. Something about your business – its products, its people, or its manufacturing – should showcase environmental concern.
- Like family & friendship – Connecting emotionally with a company is easier when a customer feels like they belong to a group or are one of the "family" associated with the business. Putting a personal face on the marketing materials used by the business helps create this connection.
- A unique business with unique products – It may take some of creativity, but you can always find traits that make your business unique. It's not necessarily the products you sell but your mission, goals or clientele that make you stand out.
Case Studies in Getting Customers to Connect Emotionally With Brands
Starting from scratch as a small business that doesn't have a significant customer following can feel daunting. Looking at the successes of major companies who have formed personal connections with their customers can help you figure out the way you might connect with your own customers.
One excellent example is the campaign and Super Bowl commercial aired by Budweiser in 2015 that featured a puppy. Sure, the commercial drew on the weakness of most people for small, cute animals, but the familiar Budweiser Clydesdales helped viewers connect the famous symbols of the beer company with an emotional experience.
The moral of the story? Presenting an emotional case can encourage an emotional response from a customer, viewer, or anyone who views your marketing materials.
Advertising Age reveals that it's essential that companies never stop seeking knowledge about customer emotion and the value of emotional customer connections:
"By better understanding consumer emotions, brands can better design programs that attract and retain consumers. By examining emotion in social media discussions marketers not only earn accurate portrayals of consumer sentiment, they do so in ways that are extraordinarily efficient. Social media offers marketers a truly guilt-free peak at consumers' diaries."
As with any marketing, branding, or advertising plan, continuous research helps you create valuable branding campaigns that increase your business's visibility and the level of loyalty your customers feel toward your brand. Remember: Even if you're a small business with just a single, tiny retail store, you have a brand, and it's important to start building that brand from day one!
Fitting Emotional Marketing Into Your Overall Customer Retention Efforts
Anyone who is already familiar with your brand will likely respond positively to your emotional pitches, but the true test of your emotional marketing will be whether it lures in new customers and inspires them to make purchases. It's easy to feel admiration for a business when the organization participates in a charitable endeavor or uses emotional marketing to boost customer connections.
However, it requires more thought and some savvy marketing to encourage people to actually make a purchase from a company they've never dealt with in the past. For example, imagine you sell hiking apparel, and your advertisements target outdoorsy customers who appreciate the value of nature and the environment.
Your emotional plea to "save the environment" will probably please your long-time customers, but will it be enough to inspire new customers to make a purchase? Not only is it important to make sure your emotional advertisement or marketing pitch hits the viewer "right in the feels," but it's also important that the advertisement reminds the customer that they need something you sell.
Howard Packaging Can Help Your Customers Connect With Your Brand
Are you looking for ways to increase the loyalty of your customers to your brand? Would you like to know how environmentally-friendly packaging and custom printed bags can help you increase your visibility with customers? If you'd like to use sustainable packaging solutions and would like to find a company experienced in creating sustainable packaging solutions, Howard Packaging can help. Contact us today to request a Free Catalog and Sample Kit!