When you think about the idea of belong to your customer, the words ‘belonging’ and ‘customer’ may seem like an odd pairing, especially with respect to sales.
Whenever I explain this idea to colleagues and clients, I start by asking them to think of their favorite brand, and explain what they love about it.
I usually hear a variation of the following: “captivating marketing,” “they always have what I need,” “they deliver on their promises”, and “their products are unrivalled.”
Regardless of the specifics, there’s a common thread among the brands: they belong to their customers, and their customers feel a sense of belonging and community when they engage or buy from them.
And it’s no mistake.
As a business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of your business. It’s natural to obsess over the product or service you’re selling because you work so damn hard and invest so much.
But these companies never lose sight of what makes them run. They have a deep understanding of their customers and a steadfast dedication to putting them at the center of everything they do.
As an avid (amateur) researcher and a marketer with 20+ years of experience working with emerging and established brands, here’s what I’ve observed:
Taking a custom-centric approach will attract an engaged group of people who choose you because they feel a sense of belonging, connection, and loyalty. You’ll build a volunteer salesforce and market research group in one.
Want some evidence? See the list of the top brands ranked by loyalty here. I know you’ll recognize a few!
So, how do you belong to your customer?
Hint: it’s not a loyalty program or hiring a big company for “market research.” It’s much simpler than that.
In this post, I’m going to explain the following:
- What it means to belong to your customer
- The benefits of belonging to your customer
- How to do it using sales copy, marketing strategy and sales tactics
- Actions you can take right now to start creating brand evangelists and advocates
Let’s get into it.
Belong to Your Customer in Action
There’s a Starbucks that I’ll drive out of my way to for my coffee. I’ve belonged to that Starbucks since the day I walked in dishevelled and bone tired with a toddler and a newborn in tow.
On that freezing winter day, as I padded toward the cash desk to place my VENTI coffee order, the baby started crying, and the toddler rammed the stroller into my ankle before demanding his hot chocolate.
When I finally eased out of the pain, soothed the baby and lifted the tiny tyrant into the cart’s seat, the barista, Maria, took my order.
I blissfully gulped my hot coffee, but it was until I got home and saw this …
The word “Mom” with a smiley face.
So as the chaos continued to surround me and the coffee got colder by the minute, Maria’s kindness, empathy and recognition meant the world to me.
She wanted to say it’s hard, and you’re doing great. In that simple gesture of seeing me beyond just another person in line, she won me over and still calls me mama to this day.
That’s why I belong to that Starbucks, even though the prices seemingly rise weekly, and there’s coffee on every corner.
Now that you know what I mean by belonging to your customer, let’s get into how I came up with what my messaging coach Michelle Mazur calls my 3-Word Rebellion.
The Inspiration for Belong to Your Customer
I came up with the idea for Belong to Your Customer because I wanted to bottle the ethos and mission of my business into a phrase that people could easily understand AND see the benefit in.
As a marketer with experience in various roles in the retail industry, including at global brands Michael Kors, Christian Louboutin, and emerging online brands, I’ve seen a lot of what works and what doesn’t.
As a lifelong learner who’s as fascinated with human psychology as I am with marketing, I integrate the two into my copywriting and marketing business to develop campaigns and copy that resonate with the target audience.
And the results tell the story. One client increased her sales page conversion by 68% after applying the Belong to Your Customer approach to one of her funnels.
Another increased sales because she refined her customer journey so that she didn’t lose as many people at the top of the funnel.
When you intimately understand your customer, come from an authentic place in your marketing and prioritize relationship selling, the sky’s the limit for your business.
Is this approach a quick fix or a magic pill? No.
Belong to Your Customer is a strategic, proven process to nurture your people through the customer journey by:
- showing them empathy
- taking the time to ask about their needs, wants, desires and disappointments
- tailoring your marketing communications to speak directly to them
- taking their feedback and making products or improving upon the ones they buy
Simply put, Belong to Your Customer is a rallying cry for businesses to prioritize customer-centric copywriting and marketing strategy to increase sales by building a loyal customer base of brand evangelists.
The Benefits of Belong to Your Customer
Here’s a list of some of the benefits that I’ve seen companies enjoy when they commit to the Belong to Your Customer approach:
- Increased sales
- Higher engagement on your content. (Open rates, click-through rates, longer time spent on your website, increased SEO, etc.)
- Customer retention
- Increased Customer Lifetime Value
- A grassroots sales force in the form of brand advocates and evangelists
- Longevity that can sustain market changes
- Status among your competitors and customers
- Data to draw on and recalibrate efforts if necessary
- Fulfill your Brand Promise
In addition to all these benefits, the Belong to Your Customer approach is simple, effective and inexpensive.
So, how do you build a loyal group of return customers who become your brand evangelists?
Let’s explore some strategies and tactics.
How to Belong to Your Customer
Now that you understand what it means to Belong to Your Customer and why it’s essential, let’s explore how to use it in copywriting, marketing and sales strategy.
Seasoned copywriters know that the best copy isn’t their own.
The most compelling copy employs a sales tactic called Voice of Customer. This means reflecting your customer’s exact words and phrases to express their needs, desires, problems, and feelings in all your customer-facing copy.
The good news is this data is inexpensive and relatively easy to collect.
Here are some places to mine for it:
- Social media channels
- Email marketing replies
- Questions on comment boards
- Reviews of products or services
- Focus groups
- Exit pop-up windows
- Interviews with potential, current and past clients
Your customer feedback will become very valuable in answering the “Job to be Done” – shorthand for what your customer seeks to accomplish with your product and a key component of all effective copywriting.
And when you incorporate it into your copy, it will connect to them as they’ll see themselves reflected in your solution at all points of the customer journey.
Speaking of the customer journey, let’s look at how to Belong to Your Customer in your marketing strategy.
Whenever I work with clients on their marketing strategy,
I always start by looking at my client’s customer journey.
If this isn’t something you’ve laid out, consider jotting it down in specifics as you plan your marketing activities.
Let’s start at the top of the funnel — how do your customer find you? Is it on social media, by word of mouth, through articles or via advertising?
What’s the next step you want them to take once they learn about you? Do you want them to visit your website, read a blog post, sign up for your email newsletter list via a link, or claim a coupon?
Once customers engage with your brand, they’re subconsciously evaluating their experience. That’s why it’s crucial to be bang-on with your communications at this point.
Depending on how this goes — everything from the user experience to the copy on the product descriptions or sales page — they will either make a purchase or leave.
The magic – aka the strategy and tactics you employ- is the key to gaining their support, converting the sale and eventually adding them to your customer base.
No matter the size of your business, all lifecycle marketing strategies require content.
And there’s no better place to get ideas than what your current customers and target audience are asking, talking about and engaging with.
When you can know what your audience is seeking at every stage of the customer journey, you can create content that nurtures them through:
Awareness: create highly shareable and engaging content that speaks to your buyer personas through inexpensive and strategic placement and collaborations.
Engagement: share information about your company and inform people about what makes it different/ suitable for them by answering their questions and making engagement easy.
Evaluation: in a crowded marketplace, shopping around is easy and par for the course (stats show that 92% of customers research reviews before making a purchase). Give them everything they need to be confident in your solution by addressing their needs with features and benefits.
Purchase: congrats! You’ve converted your ‘lead’ into a customer! Now how are you going to ‘surprise and delight them? This is the beginning of the following and equally important customer journey phase.
Support: you can increase profits by turning them into loyal customers and brand evangelists by creating a good experience and offering exceptional service before and after people make a purchase. Think of your customers as a volunteer sales force.
Loyalty: remember the story about my local Starbucks? I’m loyal to that Starbucks because they deliver exceptional customer service, and my drink is just how I like it. They anticipate my needs and make me feel valued as a person.
When you reach the loyalty phase, you’ve accomplished belonging to your customers, who belong to you. They become advocates and can’t stop talking about your brand. They give you reviews, recommend your products to others and will choose you over others without hesitation.
Belonging to Your Customer doesn’t only positively impact your copywriting and marketing; it drives sales.
As mentioned above, the technique of reflective listening (Voice of Customer) is used by the best 1-1 salespeople, but that doesn’t mean an online business can’t use it.
You can turn potential or one-time customers into loyal ones by training your sales team and customer service staff to ask the right questions and tune into the responses for keywords.
Here are a few things you can look at or implement right away to reap some insight:
- What do your sales teams or exit surveys tell you about customer hesitations and complaints?
- What confuses them? Why did they choose another option over yours?
- What problem are they hoping to solve or desire to fulfil when purchasing your product?
- How do they feel when they start their search or come upon your brand? Dialling into feelings and motivations will help you become their preferred choice.
Armed with his information, you can shape your copy and marketing messaging to reflect their concerns and proactively counter objections.
Selling More to Existing Customers
Getting new customers into your brand ecosystem is the goal, but don’t sleep on the ones that are already there!
The stats above tell the story, but tending to your customers and making them feel valued beyond the sale is just as important.
Take action and solicit their feedback in a simple survey or a research session:
- What are they saying about their customer experience?
- What other products or services do your customers want from your company? How can you deliver on it?
- What underlying feelings are they not communicating that you could fulfill by repositioning your offer or speaking differently?
Asking these questions shows your customer that you’re invested in their happiness.
And, it also gives you invaluable data on what to do next in your sales and marketing efforts.
Reason to Believe in Belong to Your Customer
When I worked in Dubai, I handled media relations for shoe designer Christian Louboutin in the Middle East.
Louboutin is famous for the red sole on every pair of his shoes –very expensive shoes that have become a global status symbol.
People who wear Christian Louboutin want to feel sexy and stylish. But mostly, they want to feel part of a sophisticated, desirable and wealthy clientele who can afford his shoes (aka status).
His devotees shared that they believe Christian belongs to them because he understands precisely what they need for every occasion or locale they find themselves in.
Louboutin made himself available to his clients by showing up at sales events, spontaneously visiting his stores at peak times, signing shoe soles, and even naming styles after his most loyal clients.
By immersing himself in the world of his customer, Louboutin successfully reached a targeted group of people who believe that his shoes are for them — and not others.
As Seth Godin says in The Marketing Seminar, it’s for us, not them.
Louboutin had been working away for years and was a best-kept secret among his clientele until he took off and attracted the attention of American stylists and celebrities.
That recognition catapulted him to acclaim, especially with comments like this from Blake Lively:
“I own so many of his shoes that I should be institutionalized.[If] you ask me, they are heartbreakingly perfect. See — I do have a problem.”
And while you don’t need celebrities to become your brand advocates, you do need to treat every customer like a VIP.
That’s the way you are going to foster excitement, loyalty, trust, and a “volunteer sales force” (Creating Customer Evangelists, Huba, McConnell)
It’s Time to Belong to Your Customer
To sum up, Belong to Your Customers is a rallying cry and a proven process to connect with your audience at all points of the customer journey, inspiring them to take the next step with your brand beyond the initial purchase.
If you’re getting excited at the potential of connecting more deeply with your customers so you can shape your copy, marketing strategy, and sales process, I can’t wait for you to test it out.
Over time, you’ll foster a loyal group of people who belong to you because you belong to your customer.
And while brands spend millions of dollars researching their customers, the process is simple. You can apply it to your marketing plan, copywriting, and sales strategy. No expensive loyalty programs or market research company needed.
If you’d like my support for copywriting and strategy that captures the voice of your customers, nurtures them along the customer journey, and creates sales, loyalty, and a stellar brand reputation, check out the 5-Star Sales Strategy here.
As a conversion copywriter and marketing strategist, I’ve worked with successful global brands and start-ups in North America and the Middle East for nearly 20 years.
I started my career in Public Relations back in 2001. After working at 3 PR agencies in four cities on two continents, I became the PR Director for Michael Kors Canada, a position I held for four years.
In 2016, I launched my copywriting business, which evolved into offering copywriting and marketing strategies to clients with a focus on the customer.
This Is Marketing, The Marketing Seminar – Seth Godin
Marketing: A Love Story, Bernadette Jiwa
Creating Customer Evangelists, Jackie Huba, Ben McConnell