These days, social influencers are big business. Getting an Instagram star to snap a selfie with one of your products seems like the golden ticket; suddenly thousands of dollars of orders will start rolling in. And they better, right, because getting that Instagram star to take a selfie is going to cost your company at least several thousands of dollars in fees.
We’re not saying, of course, that influencer marketing doesn’t work. Countless brands have made their reputations by using social influencers wisely. The problem is, just as many businesses never see the return on their investment, and what looked like a golden ticket is now just a very costly piece of shiny paper.
So what’s a small business with limited advertising dollars to do? Focus on building brand loyalty.
Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago my wife and I spent the afternoon running errands, and we stopped at Sephora to pick up an item or two on her list. We walked out having purchased much, much more. As soon as we walked in the door, a Sephora representative used a handheld tablet to scan my wife’s face for her skin tone. Then she gave her a code she called her “Color IQ.”
On their website, they describe Color IQ as “the first and only beauty service that scans the surface or your skin … which reveals scientifically precise lip, foundation, and concealer matches.” Personally, they had me at technology. My wife, however, had a previously unmatched product and customer care experience. After scanning her skin, the Sephora representative walked her all over the store to select products that worked well with her Color IQ. Then they applied it to her skin to ensure that it was indeed a great match. She was thrilled.
Of course, being the mega beauty brand that it is, Sephora could have chosen to throw lots of money into influencer marketing to promote their Color IQ technology. Any number of celebrity photos would have generated a fair bit of traffic. But that’s short-term gain. That’s traffic, not sales. Instead, Sephora took a long-term branding approach by presumably asking the question, “How can we make every one of our customers feel like their best selves?” Then, they went about putting the answer — the Color IQ — into action. Now, customers everywhere like my wife are buying lots of product, and looking forward to coming back for more.
That’s brand loyalty. And that’s the real golden ticket.
At Verve Concepts, we argue that small businesses are actually in a better position to build brand loyalty among their customers than many large businesses because they have better oversight and control over the entire customer experience, start to finish. It’s the same three steps we’ve advocated before, and that we help our customers to achieve.
Given that I just wrote a whole article on my wife’s experience buying lipstick and foundation — a subject about which I previously knew almost nothing — it’s pretty clear that masterfully Sephora accomplished all three.
What is your small business doing to build brand loyalty? Drop us a line; we’d love to hear your ideas.