This morning, my kids hung out in our bedroom a little while my husband and I were getting ready. They found a Tupperware bin full of headbands and hair ribbons in my closet, and came across one ribbon in particular that sparked a memory for me...
When I was a junior in high school, I had my sights set on going to school for art and design. During the process of applying to schools, my Mom and I went to a portfolio day in Brooklyn. For those of you not familiar with the art and design world, this is where you lug around an enormous briefcase full of your best pieces of artwork to show representatives from various design schools so that they can give you advice on how you can improve your work to get into their school.
After the event, my Mom and I decided to walk around the city a bit... enormous portfolio in tow. At some point, we walked into a Louis Vuitton store to look around. The saleswoman immediately greeted us with a smile when we walked in, saw me struggling with the clunky portfolio, and asked if I wanted to leave it behind the check out desk while we looked around. So I left it there and we browsed the store. Mind you, I was a junior in high school... I was not purchasing anything at the Louis Vuitton store.
When we finished browsing and admiring the beautiful design, we stopped back at the check out desk to pick up my portfolio. The saleswoman who was behind the desk had tied a lime green "LV" logo embossed ribbon on the handle. Oh. My. God. My seventeen year old self was gleaming with excitement that I now was the proud owner of something...ANYTHING that had that print on it.
Looking back on it now, I realize how significant an impact that little gesture made on me. A ribbon that I saved for TEN YEARS before I ever spent a penny in that store. Now obviously there's some serious brand recognition in play here, but for me, what was more impactful was the gesture. Often times, we get so busy that small gestures and details fall by the wayside, but as this story proves, they can be the single biggest way to create brand loyalty. So, here are a few ways you can incorporate small gestures into your own business to create brand loyalty and show your gratitude:
1. Make it personal. Leave a meaningful note for your customer, wether in a private message, or a handwritten note; something that lets your customers know how much you appreciate them. Learn their names and their family's names, and include that in the note.
2. Give a gift. My dad is the master at this. Through deep conversations, he will learn about his customers, their family, their job, etc. and then just store that info in the back of his mind. Later on, if he comes across something that he feels would be meaningful to the customer, he'll get it to give to them. These are usually not expensive items. Those kinds of sweet gestures have created brand loyalty for him for years (I'm not sure he even knows he's doing it, he's just a super sweet person).
3. Say "thank you"... and mean it. Look your customer in the eye and thank them. A friend of the family once was telling me a story about how he did business with someone for years, and the person he did business with never said thank you, so he stopped doing business with him. Amazing how far a simple word of gratitude can go.
4. Show up. If you know that your customer is going to be starring in a show, or they have to work on their birthday, or they need help painting... show up! Support is a two way street, and your presence will speak volumes.
You will of course develop your own style in small gestures for each relationship with a customer, one that makes sense for your business, but it's the thought here that counts. Now more than ever during this COVID-19 epidemic, your customers will not forget that you went out of your way to make them feel special.