Every entrepreneur is looking to find their share of the market, however big or small. Building a customer base is the first step in the process, but the methods for attracting customers are changing with the times. E-commerce and the digital marketplace have grown exponentially in the last year, and customer service is more online now than ever.
In 2021, a loyal following is synonymous with a strong customer base. Consumers rely on social media, blogs, and other internet outlets to determine which brands they want to work with. But building a loyal following is more than social accounts. Entrepreneurs must understand that followers who will become customers expect brands to offer them more than just the product. They want an experience, multiple points of connection, and a sense of pride in the brands they interact with.
Here are four tips from Jake Shaw, founder of YourownMusic, to create an all-encompassing experience, generate a loyal following, and build your customer base.
Reach Your Customers Where They Are
Defining your target demographic is essential for any business strategy. In the digital age, a critical element of demographic research involves finding out how your customers communicate. Generally, we assume that young people prefer communication on social media and older generations prefer tangible mail or email, but as digital platforms multiply, our demographic research needs to become more nuanced and specific.
Figure out where your target demographic goes to interact with others, and meet them there. You might be surprised by their preferences and how quickly they shift and adapt to advances in technology. For instance, companies with young target audiences are moving toward text communication because mobile phones are so accessible. If you devote time to the research, you will be able to reach your customers where they really are instead of wasting effort on outdated methods.
Offer Something of Value
Your product or service is always going to be the primary offering and focus of your company, but consumers expect brands to go the extra mile. Music industry entrepreneur Jake Shaw of YourOwnMusic has transformed the world of music promotion with this strategy. To promote his clients’ music, he creates playlists on popular music streaming sites (like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube) to pull the customers in and keep them listening. It’s a free service that shows the customer that he’s willing to go beyond just promoting his clients’ content—he will create new content that caters to consumers’ interests.
Regardless of the industry, you can create additional value for your customers beyond your product or service. Consider offering educational resources through a blog or creating entertaining social content that followers can interact with. You can also use giveaways to engage your followers, or offer them personalized product recommendations.
Share User-Generated Content
Interacting with followers is key to growth in your business and in your brand. User-generated content is a straightforward way to show your followers and customers that you care about their perspectives. User-generated content can take the form of hashtag-driven social campaigns where followers share photos of your products, or a customer reviews section on your website that enables customers to share their feedback. Giving your followers a voice is an effective way to create a larger conversation about your brand.
Collaborate with Tastemakers in Your Industry
To build a following, you need to cultivate trust in your brand. One of the best ways to develop trust between you and your clients is to collaborate with other leaders in your industry. If you work in retail or sell a specific type of product, reach out to people who have an influence on your target demographic. These people could be social media influencers in fashion, health, fitness, food, or whatever else appeals to your target demographic. The more your customers see your product in the hands of people they trust, the more likely they are to trust you.
In service-based or tech-based industries, you can reach out to thought leaders or innovators who might mention your product to their networks. A single recommendation from an industry leader can propel your brand to success. For Jake Shaw, collaboration is key both for the musicians he represents, and for the business relationships he cultivates. The idea is to build a community, not just a client base.
Building a loyal following isn’t about generating thousands of hits on social media, it’s about cultivating a lasting relationship with your customer. You can do this by identifying their needs, meeting them where they are, making trustworthy connections, and giving them a voice in the process. Word-of-mouth, even if it’s digital, means everything for modern companies.