I’ve written a lot about loyalty, strategy, connection and relationship-building. My recent post about loyalty went into some of the reasons that customer and audience loyalty is critical to your business. Another recent article about lining up your strategy with your actual problems perhaps deals with a bit more about problem-solving and identifying where your strategy, such as it is, might not be a fair representation or plan that works within the realm of the daily reality you face. Another article concerned connections, both real and perceived.
These are all related. Strategy is generally defined as some kind of innovation or reinvention process. If it doesn’t reflect the constant change the market and your business is experiencing, it isn’t strategy. It may be a corporate wish-list, a reason to have a kind of high-faluting retreat every year, or some kind of box-checking activity….although there are generally a lot of nervous, but well-meaning efforts aimed at it. However, if it doesn’t actually help your company break from old habits that are keeping you from at the very least repeating the same things every year, it’s not doing for you what it might.
Is loyalty a key component of your strategy? You realize that there is more to it than crafting good offers and making sure your customer service is stellar (both good things in the right priority….). It need not be itemized, but, since strategy with, hopefully, drive goals and action within your company (including what your employees are given as part of their roles and how they are incentivized…). Strategy that drives real change in a company is difficult, businesses rarely achieve extra-ordinary results unless they do something very strategic.
So, think of the relationship of these three things:
- Strategy will allow you to “think about thinking about your company.” That might make your brain hurt a bit, but it is critical to getting away from the day-to-day “fire-fighting” and spend time imagining what your company can REALLY BE!
- Loyalty is a relationship-describing state that your customers and audience have for you AND that you have for your customers and audience. Your loyalty to them needs to extend far beyond the fact that they come back for return business and refer you to others. It probably already DOES extend further, but turning it around in your head can help you begin to uncover some additional opportunities to reach out to the Neutral and Vulnerable customers and audience you have and discover new, unusual ways by which they can become Loyal customers and audience members, too.
- Connection is the organic part of this set. By organic, I mean it cannot really be automated. There are definitely great processes and “best practice” activities you can implement that will facilitate the connections that will build the trusting relationships that will be the crown jewels in your business. Be assured, this will take resources, including, and especially, time. The pay-off is too big to discount, though.
If you are an entrepreneur or a small business, this can seem pretty daunting. You’re trying to make the company into a viable entity…more than an enhanced hobby (and pay the bills…)! Unless you go into your life as an entrepreneur from a business background, you have likely not had much training or experience in creating strategies, etc. Indeed, a lot of organizations either “poo-poo” the process as some kind of suggestion that wastes time when they should be out there SELLING! Some take a more serious approach and really try to stay on top of a viable strategy….but tackling it as a valuable agent of change makes it too scary to go far “outside of the box”, so things don’t get too far.
You need to get some real, professional help here (be sure to do your homework and get the folks with a demonstrable track record….and don’t get by on a book and a couple of blog articles either!). Where you’re going with your business, especially with as much uncertainty as exists in the marketplace for all of us these days, is too valuable to just let things stay the same.
I will be writing a lot more about incorporating important components like loyalty into your business, including suggestions on researched (and proven!) things you might be able to use in your business. This is too important to ignore!
So watch this space and please share these articles with your colleagues. I really do want each of us to succeed, and getting this right will move each of us to those goals.