The movies I remember most from my childhood all centered around finding that “true love” and living happily ever after, as devoted, loyal spouses that forever tingle at the thought of each other. You know those movies, like “The Princess Diaries,” “Enchanted,” and “Sleepless in Seattle.”
Years later, it became forever clear that “true love” was really just another Hollywood notion to keep people dreaming, and watching more romance movies. Not because true love cannot be found, but because there really is not just one person for every person here on earth. At least, that’s not often the case.
Yet somehow, brands jumped onto the trend of forming brand love with customers, believing they could achieve lifelong loyalty and happily ever after fans. Not.
No, I am not a skeptic that love does not exist and cannot last. But I am a realist when it comes to the ethereal goals of marketers today. The reality of forever and true brand love is right up there with the likelihood that my favorite love flick, “Enchanted” is based on a true story.
Think about it. Is there a brand you love so so so much that you would never ever stray? And you would take a vow to remain loyal “until death do you part” and even “in sickness and health?” which in the business world is failed expectations, higher prices, faulty products, and such. Not likely.
In every category and in every market, customers have many options of suitors vying for their attention, time, money, affection, and loyalty. And choosing a brand based on what you valued at a given time in the purchase process or phase of your life is not something you consider as permanent, no matter what the future brings. It’s just a purchase that works then and now, kind of like high school dating works for teenagers, and most often those relationships change over time.
While love for brands is certainly fleeting, it does not mean marketers should not be focused on generating as much affection for as long as we can among every customer we are fortunate enough to have. It means we need to look at things a little differently.
- Look at the customers’ lifetime value differently. Don’t just focus on securing sales for as long as they are viable in your category. Look at their referral value as that is where their exponential potential comes from.
- Engage in referral campaigns not just loyalty campaigns. Reward customers for the value they bring you from new customers, not just their own transactions. This way you are preserving your revenue stream as they slow down and eventually move on.
- Pay attention. Monitor offers and incentives offered by other suitors. What new appeal do they have that you don’t offer? Find ways to offer the same but in your own style.
Just like in our personal relationships , we cannot take brand love and loyalty for granted among our customers. We need to find ways to keep them “enchanted” enough to tell their friends about us, share our incentives and offers to their circles, and stay positive socially online and offline when it comes to conversations about our brand. Reputations last longer than most customers ever will so communications, nurturing, and keeping respect and admiration at the top of each customers’ minds will set us up to secure the next generation of customers.