Last week, my girlfriend was considering a home made cake for her birthday celebration, but was conflicted about the relatively high price (which included delivery to the venue). Just order a cheaper one from a different caterer, I said. That wasn’t a good solution though. She had tried a free sample at an event for food lovers and really wanted to try it again. In the end, she decided to go ahead and order it.
So, what had happened? How come was she ready to spend almost 50% more than the other options? Simple: she fell in love with the product.
All of us do this at some point. Maybe we don’t realize it, but at various times we fell in love with that particular brand or product we keep using over and over. (It’s why I stuck to my Nokia long after they lost relevance.) It meant something to us and we stayed with it because the first time we encountered it, the experience was so memorable that it became meaningful. In short:
High quality or a great experience leads to amazing customer happiness.
The caterers, a little start-up focusing on genuine homemade products, were so good at what they do, that once experienced (for free), you had to try them again. But that is not enough. By having such a specific focus, they also intimately understood their target audience: as an attendee to an event for food lovers, my girlfriend appreciated the quality of the product more than the average supermarket consumer…so giving her a sample had a much, much higher chance of resulting in a sale of a premium priced product. Let’s rephrase, then:
Knowing what you do and who you serve allows you to focus on producing quality.
I’m a digital strategy analyst. Caught in a world of data points and metrics, I often have to stop myself from overlooking the value of traditional marketing. The story of the cake makes it clear: you can throw thousands of euros at advertising, but money cannot buy the loyalty that only comes from a real commitment to delivering happiness. The trust required from your customers for you to grow starts from here. In other words:
Amazing customer happiness leads to trust.
Back to the cake.
When she called up the caterers to book, my girlfriend asked if she could pick up the cake from their shop, instead of paying extra for delivery. Now, it would have been easy for the small business agree to that. But they went even further: they understood the question behind the question, which was essentially that the customer wanted free delivery. So that’s what they offered instead.
Earning trust is important. But that is not enough. To grow, you also need loyalty.
In exchange for a simple delivery job, the cake shop has just created a loyal customer through whom they will reach at least 40 other people. These will experience their high quality product, recommend it to potentially hundreds of others (food aficionados love their Instagram!), and in turn start the loyalty loop all over again.
To conclude, let’s distill the Cake Recipe for Loyalty:
- Understand what you do and who you serve so you can focus on producing quality.
- Let these people experience your high quality work. Deliver happiness, maybe by giving something OF VALUE away for free.
- Focus on building trust. Make small sacrifices and go out of your way to build on the initial connection.
- Make sure you recognize loyalty when it happens so that you can reward it. Keep talking to these people. Ask for their feedback. It is crucial that you understand what keeps them coming back.
- Ask for recommendations! At this stage, there is nothing wrong with this. They probably are already telling their friends about you, but a gentle reminder always helps.
The story of cake makes me wonder about why many larger businesses fail at this relatively simple premise.