Engaging Rural America with the Unexpected
The Importance of Communications and Personal Connections
OUTdrive Episode 7 with Roy Huntington
One of the key components of a successful business is relationships with customers and exceptional service to those customers. However, many companies struggle to find the best strategies to build relationships and develop brand loyalty with their customer base. New strategies continue to emerge, but one of the most effective strategies is simple–good old fashioned customer service.
Ways to Establish, Build and Nurture Brand Loyalty
1. Treat customers as a valued friend
Trends show that consumers are supporting brands that develop personal connections with their customers. People are interested in supporting brands that they feel treat them as a valued friend, know their needs and work to meet those needs. In fact, many consumers will pay more for a product or service, based on a relationship with that company, shared values with that company and great customer service.
Roy shares trends he is seeing in the industry, including a shift to more boutique and independent manufacturing, specifically in younger generations.
“If they’re under 35 or 38, they really like that smaller production, personal attention, exclusivity of a product. They don’t want commodity things. That’s becoming a significant market,” says Roy. “What I’m seeing in the industry is that sort of slow reversal back toward a more boutique or independent manufacturer.”
However, Roy emphasizes the quality and attention to detail that these manufacturers provide. Businesses that provide a personal experience for customers reap the benefits.
“These things are very sophisticated products. They’re of high quality, they cost a lot, they’re manufactured in limited quantities and they’re usually marketed to a customer base that these people develop,” said Roy. “The custom knife market is very similar. A knifemaker may only have 500 people who buy knives from him, period, and he doesn’t want more than that. When he publishes something on Facebook that it’s available for sale, it sells immediately. That’s turning back into a significant part of the market.”
2. Establish your brand as a trusted and vetted source
No matter your industry, consumers want to know that they can trust your organization. Focus on providing truthful, accurate information related to your products, service and industry. Present the information in creative and engaging ways, but work to consistently share information that is valuable to your audience. As you continue to provide this content and establish your credibility, customers will grow to appreciate and respect your brand.
Roy uses the example of establishing your brand as a trusted source in the digital world. In a world where anybody can use social media to broadcast a message, carefully positioning your brand and curating valuable content is more important than ever.
“Today, anybody with an iPhone and a broken 22 is a firearms ‘expert’, you just have to go to YouTube to see. If instead you deliver a good quality content experience, that’s well-vetted and by somebody you trust, they click on it and watch it and they want more,” said Roy. “We started doing these little two-minute first look videos. They see me shoot it, they see me load it, I talk a little bit about what I think about it and we follow up later with articles online. They’re a screaming success. They say they like it because it’s not too long but they know it’s true and they can believe what we’re saying compared to a nameless face.”
3. Focus on simple, tried and true strategies
In today’s world, it can be really refreshing for customers to be able to pick up the phone and call a company and be able to quickly speak to someone who can answer their questions and help resolve their issues. Customers really appreciate when companies make themselves available as a resource. It may take some extra time, but the additional effort will provide long-lasting benefits to your company and increased brand loyalty.
Roy shares the value of a simple phone call with a reader’s experience with Les Baer of Les Baer Custom, which manufactures custom 1911s.
“A reader had a question about Les Baer and I told him to call Les Baer Custom, ask to speak with Les and he’ll answer your question about that. And so he did” said Roy. “Later, I got a call back saying ‘I can’t believe it. I called Les Baer Custom and Les Baer answered the phone!’ Afterward, I chatted with Les and said ‘Les do you know how powerful that is?’ He said ‘Why wouldn’t I talk to him? He’s a customer!’ It’s Business 101.”
Companies must continue to evolve to meet customer needs. However, things that remain constant among consumer preferences are the desire for personal connections with brands and the irreplaceable value of great customer service.
Roy Huntington, publisher of FMG’s consumer publications has experience in the law enforcement, private sector and media industries, and is no stranger to strategically engaging consumers to build brand loyalty. Listen as Roy visits with Cliff Callis on our most recent episode of OUTdrive. Click play to listen now.