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Many small businesses are very good at reaching out to new customers but are generally not as good at nurturing the relationship. Nurturing a relationship allows you to reinforce your brand and increase brand loyalty. This also helps you weather the storms of increasing competition. A customer who has developed a good relationship with you will remain loyal, even if the competition decides to lower its price. That's brand loyalty. Many small businesses assume branding is expensive, but reinforcing your brand does not need to cost a lot.
Here are some easy, inexpensive ways to build and develop brand loyalty:
Start or contribute to a blog. Research what is the most highly trafficked and searched blog in your industry and start to write and post relevant articles that include information about your business.
If you don't already have a tagline, consider developing one that clearly and succinctly informs people about your business. Always attach your tagline to your e-mail signature.
Start an e-mail newsletter for your customers and prospects, and include your own article and link to other pieces related to your industry. This is a great way to consistently keep your brand in front of customers. Make sure to include a section that encourages the recipient to "pass it on to friends and colleagues."
Offer your expertise to local or industry media publications that are read by your target customer. Consider submitting op-ed pieces to your local newspaper, or write an article and pitch it to target publications.
Follow up with your customers. Thank them for their business and ask for referrals.
Consider conducting a survey either via mail or online to get feedback on your products or service. You can use positive testimonials on your website, in your newsletter and even print some on the back of your business cards.
Make sure that all of your promotional materials match. At the very least, your business cards, stationery, signage, packaging, brochures and website should all consistently feature your name, logo, and tagline.
If you use a car or truck in your business, have your business name and contact information professionally painted on the side of the vehicle. This turns your means of transportation into an advertising vehicle your business. If you don't want the permanence of paint on the vehicle, consider using magnetic signs.