The only way to create brand loyalty for your business

People that are brand loyal spend more with you, hire you more than just once and tell other people about your businesses.

The unfortunate truth is that brand loyalty across every industry is declining. According to Ernst & Young, just a few years ago the average customer was loyal to their favorite brands about 40% of the time. Now, that percentage is estimated to have dropped to just 25%.

This suggests it’s getting more difficult to keep customers, and, perhaps, also more difficult to scream loudly enough to attract them in the first place.

It surprises some that brand loyalty isn’t generated through patterns of discounts or a series of coupons. Those incent the anti-loyal price shoppers.

Create incentives with caution. If you’re looking for a burst of revenue, go for it. But if you’re looking for lifetime customers, you may be putting your marketing energy in the wrong place.

How to create brand loyalty

Here’s the only way to truly create brand loyalty:

Create a predictably positive experience with a contrasting surprise that shows you care.

When I walk into my favorite nail salon, I know that Suzanne is going to welcome me before my foot crosses the threshold.

I’ll wait for only about 2-3 minutes, and then I’ll get taken back to the same station each time where we’ll chat for a few minutes. I know what will happen after that, and so on, and so on. The first time I went there, I was surprised to find a complimentary shoulder massage was included with every treatment. I could also choose to rest under the nail dryers with a warm rice and lavender shoulder pillow. This wasn’t expected; it was a pleasant surprise.

At Starbucks, the drinks are predictable and consistent. The baristas remembering your name is a surprise showing they care.

When people book a baby shoot with me, I take them through the same process whether this is our first time working together or our third. The onesie I send them with a personal note before the shoot signifies they’re valued.

Get the predictable, positive experience messed up and your brand loyalty is toast.

Forget to include a contrasting surprise and it begs for your customers’ eyes to begin wandering toward other options.

PS – What do you do to help ensure your business is predictable? Or, is this an area you need to work on moving forward? Reply below and comment. I promise to comment back (especially if you’re needing help figuring this out).


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  1. says

    I really liked this article. There are things you just don’t think about when you’re busy and wonder what happened when you are not busy. I like giving my customer a gift certificate along with their package. I also want them to be overjoyed when I show them their package, which they are, but sometimes I just can’t seem to get a good flow going and I look unprepared.

    I have a hard time with being consistent and predictable. I am a procrastinator and I am also unorganized. I was so ignorant about this before and it has taken me 10 years to figure this out while being in business. I know I am a good photographer, but my business side leaves much to be desired.

    Thank you!

  2. says

    I photograph families and something I started doing as an unexpected surprise was to send them a booking gift. Maybe some coloring books or stickers for kiddos and some nice coffee for Mom and Dad. I also keep notes so that I don’t send them the same gift twice. It’s not difficult to keep a stash of small gifts in my office so that I can put a package together quickly.

    • says

      Small gifts are a great way to build loyalty and they work so much better than the traditional discount/print credit method that I see so many people doing these days.

      Since we are wedding photographers, we started a new thing last season of taking our couples out for dinner sometime during the week before their wedding. It’s been a really good way to go over details (reassuring them of their awesome choice of photographer!) while also building more of a personal relationship with them.

      Nothing overly expensive or fancy, just more of a casual thing to get together and help assure our couples that we truly are interested in making sure that we take care of them and their day.

      Many photographers tend to treat this more as a professional/business relationship and I think you can really build better loyalty and referrals when you show your clients that you are real, genuine and just like them.

      Trust me, it works.


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