Why Focus on Loyalty?

Loyalty

Loyalty

Loyalty, always a high-sounding word, is ever more in the news and on our minds.

Whether it’s loyalty to a sports team, a political cause or ideology, a leader, a brand, a long-standing relationship, a coffee shop, or the family doctor, we seem to be more concerned with it and discuss it more than ever before.

I’ve been doing (and continue to dig into…) research on loyalty. Specifically, I am interested in:
  • What the drivers are for customer loyalty to businesses
  • How these drivers relate to relationship and dialogue stages
  • Factors / components that are online, off-line, and a blend of the two
  • Other components or influences that I have yet to uncover
While this will not be the “Unified Theory of Loyalty” (with apologies to physicists everywhere….), I wish to come to a clearer understanding of what establishes, builds and maintains this stance in customers and people in general. Humans are complex, absolutely unique individuals who, nonetheless, exhibit certain related behaviors and tendencies. If this were not so, the social sciences would have to just fold up their collective tents and take up hospitality management.

As I continue to research this topic and make discoveries, I will be writing about them here first. The eventual end-product is likely to be a paper, some podcasts, a video or two….likely a combination of all of the above.

So stay tuned!

Now, having gotten the preface out of the way, let me get to the first bit:

Why Loyalty?

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Focus and Productivity: Get Some Help!

Work Focus & Productivity

Work Focus & Productivity

The battle for productivity and getting stuff done is never-ending.

So many of us spend a LOT of time in front of computer monitors and accomplish a lot of things. However, the temptation to give yourself just a TEENSY break and take a quick glance at Facebook, or your favorite news site, or a live feed / video….or a quick game of Solitaire…that’s a constant thing.

I have this problem as much as anyone. My business revolves around the Internet, digital media and marketing, and a lot of my deliverables for clients require my heavy use of tools and sites that are Just One Click Away from making a comment on someone’s post on Facebook, starting a conversation on Twitter, following link after link from an interesting article, my Inbox, and so on. Suddenly, the day has evaporated…

Don’t tell me this never happens to you (unless, of course, your role is such that you rarely are in front of a screen….).

I have done a lot of study and research on focus (cognitive science and “discipline-building” science / studies), building habits, priority management, personal productivity and so on. There are a number of systems out there that can help you if you adhere to the discipline and utilize the tools and workflows  However, many times they can seem cumbersome, or costly (in set-up time and, if there are tools involved, cash…and sometimes they just don’t feel natural, so they don’t get used…). I have launched a number of personal programs to better my use of time and attention over the years. Especially in the past few years, it has become even more critical to my success in getting things done that NEED to get done. My real-world success with these has been spotty.

I’ve mentioned in other articles about the affect that the book Deep Work by Cal Newport has had on my understanding of the problem and the options for creating a solution that works for me. I have incorporated a few things, and of those things a couple have worked for me. Nonetheless, my self-discipline has lagged in really making headway. I even tried working with a coach, which had some success, but, being human, generally made me annoyed at the coach.

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Time Is Truth

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Time And Truth

Time And Truth

Time is Truth.

What that means is you invest time in the things that you feel are important. Work, play, rest, whatever…..time is a consumable and limited resource. Each of us gets 24 hours a day, and none of us knows EXACTLY how much of it we get in total. It’s limited. It’s also a most unpredictable predictable commodity, because there’s no telling, at any one time, when “life will intervene” and you will lose out on how you planned to use the time.

There’s a lot here about life and values, but let’s focus on business and profession.
Whether you go into an office of some kind or are working in some kind of structure for your work that doesn’t include an office, you likely spend more time in that work than almost anything else you do. This is particularly true of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Tack on all the “thinking / worrying about work” time to that, and it’s even more all-consuming.

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Doing Specifics the Right Way

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specific

Be Specific!

The challenge of being specific is that it seems impossible to scale.

What does being specific mean in your business? It’s the truth behind perception, communication, understanding, prejudice and the barriers presented by a kind of ‘telephone’ game space between people. It means that if you can connect with one person, that doesn’t mean you can connect with the next one, no matter HOW much alike they are. And that is the end point….how do you plan or strategize for this kind of connection?

Going by previous data and experience will only get you so far. And sometimes it doesn’t even work for the same person! Think about how your own thoughts and feelings have changed over the years. If the “younger me” tried to convince the “today me” of a number of things about people, places, beliefs, prejudices and things I’ve learned more about over the years, well….I would have walked away as a younger man.

So back to being specific…in business, I’ve learned that a focus on “anybody who” as a customer is actually no one. Even honing it down to “A small business owner with a company that has 5 – 100 employees and has been in business for at least 5 years” is too broad. What do they care about? What are those 2 or 3 things that are nagging, painful problems they just can’t seem to crack? While each business is unique and has its own problems, there ARE business norms and trends in the U.S. There is a certain amount of consistency.

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FOCUS: How Do You Compare Awareness vs. A Noisy Internet?

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Awareness

Awareness

Moving from Awareness (I sometimes call it Discoverability…) to Reputation, and then to some kind of Economic Engagement (Sales, Donations, etc…) is a well-known path for many businesses.

The first stop on this journey is gaining Awareness of your business. Sadly, there are still a number of businesses who feel and act as though the best way to get attention is to YELL A LOT ONLINE! This number is shrinking, but they are still there. What the rest scatter into are versions of:
  • Semi-random posts based partly on the business and partly on when whomever is managing the online activity has time or interest to post something. Hence pages that will have four posts in one day, and then go 3 months before the next one.
  • A steady stream of “We’re Great! Everyone Says So!” and “Buy Our Stuff!“. These folks generally post a lot, and descend into “Internet Noise” pretty quickly…
  • The “Cats Rule the Internet” strategy, where a large number of posts are entertaining GIFs and Videos of Pets, People and Fun things, but without any balancing of content that’s valuable to the customer, except for those who find filling their day with looking at this kind of stuff valuable. May drive a l lot of traffic, but no business.
  • Patterns that ALMOST come together into a coherent plan, but lack the real strategy to make progress in their marketing and business goals. Sometimes the owner is a regular use of some channel like Facebook, and so knows kind of what others do, but hasn’t worked through how that looks for her business.
  • Some solid execution plans that are moving the needle for the business and producing value. These companies are intelligently investing in and leveraging digital/social media to MAKE MONEY.

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FOCUS: Get That One Thing Right!

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One Thing

One Thing

You’ve got that ONE THING to do, and you’re convinced that getting that right will make all the pieces fall into place, right?

I’ve had more than one business owner approach me and ask for help with a Facebook Ad or a Google Ad. My first question is usually to find out what it is they’re trying to accomplish. The answer is usually a very specific, tactical objective: promote a coupon, sell a special item or service, get some LIKES, get sign-ups for an event….

My follow-up question is usually the same one: What are you trying to accomplish?
If that doesn’t make them annoyed with me, it soon does. I sometimes go through multiple iterations of that question before we draw back far enough to the business goal or goals this one thing is supposed to support. Then we can get into the reasoning around why this will (or will not…) actually support that goal.
Not that clarity of the Next Step is bad, but obsession with it may not be the most effective focus. You may have focused so tightly on this single action or problem that  it has actually become more difficult to see in context. Your habit may be that, given the problem of promoting your coupon, you need to drop a bundle on an ad. That could work to some degree, but if you temporarily suspend that impulse and redefine the problem, you can discover that there is a different, better way to achieve the objective.

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FOCUS: Does It Really Matter If You Care?

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Caring

Caring

Caring is “we” not “I.”

In life and business, caring is the assessment that you have the other persons’ interests in mind as well as your own when you make decisions and take actions. Of the four aspects of trust I’ve written about, this is in many ways the most important. Others may believe you to be sincere, reliable, and competent, but if they believe you’re “only in it for yourself”, they will limit their trust of you to specific situations or transactions.  They will not fully TRUST you….

A state of limited trust can infect the other areas of trust. If others feel you don’t care, they begin to doubt your reliability, sincerity and competence. At the very best, they put conditions on trusting you. This will not deepen or strengthen your relationships with anyone.

It leads to this kind of thinking:
  • I may be able to believe what she says
  • She may do what she commits to
  • She may be competent
But…
  • I’m not going to trust her to do anything beyond the exact thing we’re working on right now.
  • I won’t let her get close to me or know what I’m thinking.
  • I’m not sharing ANYTHING about what I care about with her.

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