by Sean and Thora Dowdell, co-authors of “Brand Renegades: The Fearless Path from Startup to Global Brand“
Customers have more choices and options than ever as the internet dominates the consumer world. Recognizing and adjusting your business model according to these shifting demands is crucial to realizing brand goals.
For Club Tattoo, we marketed to customers who were less concerned with cost. Instead, reputation, trust, and peace of mind guide their buying decisions. We knew we couldn’t be the least expensive, given what we were selling, so we targeted to attract customers who needed to trust that safety was the priority. If something was wrong, we were determined to make it right.
Customers aren’t ultimately just buying your product, but they’re purchasing experiences that enrich their lives. They want to be treated with respect, and to know that your brand isn’t only invested in their patronage but in delivering something exceptional that goes above and beyond the competition. Creating unique customer experiences sets you apart, signaling to customers that they’re appreciated and essential to shaping the success of your business.
Use these tips to develop a customer experienced-based business model:
1. Discover your target audience.
All of this sounds great, but what if you don’t know who to market your product to? Who you’re trying to sell to is as important (if not more) than the actual product or service you’re selling. To create things that resonate with people, you have to know your ideal or intended audience. Behaviors, interests, demographics, and location are all intersecting characteristics of a target audience. The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to tailor your brand to their needs.
Three key factors should be at the forefront:
- Your product or service
- Your target audience’s demographics
- Your company’s goal or mission.
Do your research. Create customer profiles, collect and track data, analyze, and compile the information into a comprehensive database. Without data, you’re only relying on guesswork. Making assumptions may seem easier or straightforward, but it’s a great disservice to your brand. Labeling customers as you think they are, versus knowing who they indeed are, won’t create unforgettable customer experiences. People notice when they’re genuinely appreciated and valued.
2. Know how your customer interacts with all your business’s touchpoints.
Touchpoints are each stage in which a customer interacts with your brand. Every step of interaction is a Touchpoint:
- Seeing an advertisement or standing in a store location (realization and recognizing the need)
- Reading posts on social media (awareness and connection to product)
- Calling the business to inquire about a product (evaluation and consideration of the product)
- Purchasing and using the product (consumption)
Each stage is critical, as it moves your client through the buying process. But before you create an exceptional experience, you have to know what your client cares about. Knowing how to make that happen is just as important as the product or service.
Creating a system that will track all these interactions is the first step in providing an exceptional experience. This system can include data from a customer relationship management system, from your social media accounts and from speaking to your clients and staff. Taking the time to create the system will pay off when you can make better touchpoints.
3. Communicate a consistent message.
To become a leader within its market, your business needs to communicate consistently to its target market. Your customers, including potential ones, will get confused if you change your marketing tools, logos, and messaging too often. Message consistency is imperative for customers to get to know and trust your brand, and this crosses over to all of your marketing, from social media ads to your business cards. Ensuring that the fonts, colors, logos, and messages are consistent will help your client trust you and your business and develop brand loyalty.
So, what’s your brand telling clients? You must make sure that the message is crystal clear to the person who knows very little about your brand and still connects to your raving fans. The best way to find out how you’re doing with your brand messaging is, again, doing the research.
Ask strangers for feedback on your marketing materials. What, specifically, do they think it’s saying? Don’t ask leading questions, but stay open and receptive to their feedback.
Refining your brand message can take time, but if you remain consistent with a powerful message, you’ll be top of mind when your clients need your product or services.
4. Always follow up with customers.
Many small businesses miss out on vital feedback and opportunities when they don’t check in on their customers. When you’re deliberate in follow-up, you can make a dissatisfied customer happy or discover a weak point in your customer care. It also lets you find out how they perceive your brand and you also let them know that you care about increasing customer satisfaction.
Our company has a practice of making follow-up calls with customers to hear directly from them how their experience went. If there was an issue, we do our best to make it right. We also ask them to provide honest reviews on Yelp and social media, incentivizing them with free stickers that make them feel like they’re part of the Club Tattoo brand. Following up and making the customer feel valued is one of the attributes that has turned us into a standout in our industry.
Creating customer experience-based business models is an ongoing and time-consuming process. Still, the rewards from the work will be priceless to your business as you seek to become established in your market.
Sean Dowdell is known as the Tattooed Millionaire, which is also the title of his first book (2017). In addition to his role as founder and CEO of Club Tattoo, he is a drummer with Grey Daze. Thora is passionate about empowering women business owners through her story. Together, the husband-wife team have authored the new book, “Brand Renegades: The Fearless Path from Startup to Global Brand“.