November 27, 2015

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06/02/08 Without Loyalty, There Is Nothing

Last week I switched from one domain-registration company to another. Iíd been a client of one company for 10 years, but when renewal time came for several domain names I hold, it all came down to money ó and not a lot of money, either. A competitorís advertising pointed out that I was paying $25 more per domain name per year than the competitor would charge. Suddenly, my loyalty faded. I signed up with the new registration company and transferred my sites, and my loyalty.

Cleverly, the service I had been using requires customers to speak to a person to acquire a transfer code. Others donít require this, and I found out quickly why my former service does: They want to keep my business, and they told me so.

When I told them I was switching because their price is too high, they offered to match the competitorís price. I declined their offer because I felt betrayed: They hadnít been willing to give me the significantly reduced price until I decided to leave. But had there been a personal connection with some relationship depth, I probably would have stayed.

Does time create loyalty? Clearly, 10 years meant nothing to me. It could have been 50 years, and a lower price would have seduced me. If your product is only a commodity to your buyer, price alone is a good reason for leaving.

Think about your own loyalties. What is it about a family member, friend, co-worker, or employee that makes you loyal to them? Somewhere along the line, a bond was created by shared experiences, mutual caring, and reciprocal support. Clients are no different; if they have evidence that working with you is better than working with other sellers in town, loyalty will grow.

In our business, loyalty is built through service. Though agencies are more likely to make a choice based on price alone because they owe it to their clients to get the best deal, even agencies will cling to a station if they feel a sense of loyalty. Direct clients may stay with you or your station for decades if the relationship is strong.

If you go out of your way to offer superior service, if you craft creative ideas that will make your clientsí ads work, if you get them a special promotion or placement, clients will become loyal to you. It starts with building trust and doing what it takes to show youíre committed to their success.

To deepen the relationship, build clientsí loyalty to the station as well as to your sellers. The more the station staff has bonded with the client through extraordinary service, the less likely the client will be to abandon the station when things change or get tough. You must continue to earn the loyalty and never rest on your laurels.

Clowning Around
Jim Gustafson, our VP/Sales at Streamline, recalls showing up to talk to a potential client who was preparing for a big Saturday sale. Spots were running on a competitorís station touting free hot dogs and a clown show ó but the clown didnít show up. Without being asked, Jim climbed into the clown suit and waved down cars for 10 hours. The grateful client saw that Jimís concern for the businessís success was genuine. This one incident not only built instant client loyalty, it led to long-term advertising and brought advertising from word-of-mouth clients as well.

If you live by price alone, you die by price alone. Your client relationship may be jump-started by the right price, but itís critical to develop a deeper relationship to avoid being vulnerable to a lower-priced competitor.

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