“Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them.” — W. Edwards Deming, Professor and Management Consultant
I share this quote today because I think it’s relevant in terms of a real-life experience that my wife (who we will call “Mrs. JK”) shared with me yesterday.
Mrs. JK recently started working out at a local Cross Fit gym (or a “box”, as I think they call it). As such, she’s become a devotee of certain retailers who specialize in workout apparel specifically designed for Cross Fit. She’s purchased a lot of their products over the last few weeks – shirts, shorts, headbands, etc. – and has the receipts to prove it. She’s often sharing with me how great this brand is, and how wonderful their workout clothing fits her needs. It’s a great brand, and she’s become very loyal to it.
One of the marketing tactics this brand employs is hiring Brand Ambassadors to visit Cross Fit gyms and introduce new customers to their apparel. As Mrs. JK explained it to me, two very fit and attractive ambassadors visit her gym, interact with the people working out, and share the brand’s benefits. This is a GREAT idea, and an excellent way to expand a brand’s profile – literally be where your customers are and demonstrate that you share their passions.
Yesterday, however, there may have been a bit of a brand disconnect. The ambassadors (smartly, I might add) looked carefully at the brands being worn as people came to the gym for their workout (WOD, as it’s known in Cross Fit). If Cross Fitters weren’t wearing THEIR brand, the Brand Ambassadors gave them a free pair of shorts to try out – no need to buy, just as a gift. GREAT IDEA!!! – for attracting new customers. However, since my wife already had on this brand of shorts, she got nothing. BAD IDEA!!! – in building customer loyalty.
Your best customers are your current customers. In a situation like this, a brand can alienate them by ignoring them. Not unlike a sports team who discounts tickets at the risk of upsetting season ticket holder who paid full price, this is an example of looking for new customers while risking your relationship with your current customers. While I can see limiting a give-away like this to new customers, why not offer something that shows your current customers how much you appreciate their business. A 10% off coupon? A $5 Starbucks gift card? A personal shopping appointment? It doesn’t have to be the same value as the free shorts you’re offering to new customers, but it should be something that shows them you care.