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4 ways to turn customers into fans for life

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

If you’re a big sports fan, you probably wear your team’s colors, know all the players and follow every game. Wouldn’t it be great if your customers loved your company that much?

“Fan loyalty is an emotional connection that’s often stronger than any other loyalty,” says marketing expert Maribeth Kuzmeski, author of And the Clients Went Wild! “Many business owners today might assume that there is no way they can elicit such passion from their customers. But with the right strategies, it is possible.”

Kuzmeski suggests these four “absolutes” for inspiring that kind of passion among your customers:

1. Offer something unique. What­ever you’re offering your customers can’t just be better; it has to be differ­ent. In order to gain exposure, it helps to be or to offer something unique—or do something that no one else dares.

Example: Buc-ee’s, a Texas-based gas station firm, built its entire business around offering clean, oversized bathrooms with attendants—a feature it knew it could use to differentiate its business. Happy customers regularly post testimonials on the company’s blog.

“This is a great example of how looking at things from a different perspective can really pay off,” Kuzmeski says. “Instead of focusing on what clients liked about their industry, they chose to plan their strategy around what customers liked the least and improve upon it.”

2. Create something valuable (and viral!). First, you must have something valuable to say—a message your customers will want to pass on. Then, you have to make it easy for them to pass that message on. Think about Google.

“Do you remember how you found out about the search engine?” she said. “People were just passing along the straightforward message that you can ‘search for anything and everything on the Internet for free at www.google.com.’ The message became viral, and the company’s growth notoriously exploded. It’s truly a great example of a simple, repeatable statement of value that was so easy to pass on.”

3. Understand the difference between features and benefits. Too many businesses accentuate the features of their products or services rather than the benefits—which are what your clients really care about.

Benefits are value statements about the features of a product or service, with an emphasis on what the customer gets. “When you try to sell them on fea­tures alone, you’re asking the cus­tomer to do all the work—and she probably won’t,” says Kuzmeski. “It’s in your best interest to draw a cry­­stal clear picture of a product’s or serv­­ice’s benefits for a prospective buyer.”

4. Don’t just say it. Do it! Often, the things you can do to turn your customers into die-hard fans are right under your nose. They’re the things you do every day, or those things you do simply because you want to provide your customers with the service they deserve.

Rather than ask to be trusted, it’s better to show clients you are trust­worthy. And use those testimonials to spread the word.

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