Imagine you're walking down the street and someone you've never met before asks you for a job. You'd probably immediately scan the sidewalk for a police officer. But now imagine the same street and the same person, but you know her. You also know what she does for a living. And after seeing her, you realize that you not only know her, but you could also use her services right now. So, instead of her accosting you, you try to keep your cool as you grab her lapel and beg her to work for you. And then you both work happily ever after.
This is a very simplified version of the resulting difference between ineffective marketing and successful marketing. Depending on your strategy, you'll either scare potential customers off or convince them to be loyal.
So how do you keep these folks from flagging down an officer?
Somehow you must wriggle your way into their consciousness without making them roll their eyes. You must quietly become the one they think of when they need the service you provide.
Simply put, you must become familiar to them. But if you're name isn't Apple, Paul Mitchell or Kraft, how do you get them to recognize your brand name?
The Familiar Factor
This is called The Familiar Factor. It's a psychological fact that when you've heard of a name (read: brand) several times, that name is more likely to pop into your brain - certainly more so than a name you've only heard once. So how do you make your brand name familiar to one-time customers? The theory is that an initial customer becomes a loyal customer if you just make contact with them six times. Six times. That's it.
See more ways to build loyal customers with a reward points program.
Now, I should be clear. Don't hide in your customer's bushes. Don't hack into their LinkedIn profile. Don't poke them physically or on Facebook. Instead, it's a much better idea to use marketing materials to remind them of your brand name. Let me break it down:
Make contact every other month.
Don't send seven emails in one week, each of which says, "Hey! Hire me!" That's too much like that stranger you met on the street hitting you over the head every day with her briefcase. Instead, find a way to put your name in front of them throughout the year.
Vary your reason for contact.
Just saying, "Hey, remember us?" every other month is as pleasant as a smelly puppy pulling on your pants cuff. Instead, you might offer coupons or limited deals. You might have an exciting announcement to make (remodeling, new inventory). You might want to inform them about events like open houses or charity drives. You can use a monthly or quarterly newsletter to offer helpful hints. For instance, a cosmetic store might have a great way to remove red wine stains. And if possible, you might offer a free gift for birthdays, initial contact or returning customers.
Vary the material you use.
Depending on whether you have an email address, physical address or both, you can utilize email blasts, postcards, newsletters, direct mail and, depending on your business, even an actual free gift. For instance, a florist might send a bouquet to a local business.
Once you get that email and/or physical address from initial contact, you can put your strategy in place. Be creative. Vary what you say and how you make contact. And be patient. Yes, you want their business immediately, but building relationships take time. If you employ this strategy correctly, that one-time customer will come back. And they won't bring a policeman with them.