SBM 101 – The Marketing Pyramid and Customer Loyalty

Marketing PyramidSmall Business Marketing 101How important is customer loyalty to your business? What are you doing to increase loyalty among your customers?

Before we can talk about the Marketing Pyramid, we need to understand what drives loyalty among consumers. In case you hadn’t noticed, we are experiencing on hell of a recession. Many retailers have responded by using pricing to lure shoppers into their stores. This has resulted in a great shopping environment for consumers but those same customers that show up at your business to take advantage of your great deals one day are likely to be driving next door to your competitor’s store to shop their great deals.

Price might drive short-term sales, but don’t count on it to drive you long-term business results (unless you are positioned as the “big fish” in your category – Walmart, Microsoft, Coke, etc.).

The marketing pyramid should be view as a ladder when considering customer loyalty. The higher you climb, the more loyalty you earn.

The bottom of the pyramid represents the customer’s needs. Price fall here as do a lot of other basic business functions – products, locations, cleanliness, safety, etc. There’s not much to say at this level. If this is all you are concerned with, your customers will not care about you. They are shopping with you out of convenience or simply because you have the lowest prices.

The second tier of the pyramid deals with the customer’s wants or desires. A great example of this is that many customers want to be treated like they matter to the business and in many cases this just doesn’t happen. Customers want to know you care about them and value their business. They don’t want to be treated like another wallet. What else might fall into the middle of the pyramid?

  • Products that help them be unique
  • Solutions to their everyday problems
  • Over-the-top guarantees
  • Next-day delivery
  • One-hour service

The list goes on and on. Figuring out what your customers want truly is an art form. Part of comes from having a keen ability to listen to your customers and observing their everyday habits to decipher what might appeal to them. Another part of the answers simply come from gut feel and developing products and services that people will want (and need) without ever realizing the need. The iPod is a perfect example of this.

Marketing with in the middle tier of the pyramid is important. It is at this level that you will start to develop fans for your business. However, don’t mistake fans for loyal customers. Fans love ya, but they will still leave if their desires are not met on a consistent basis. Facebook is full of brand fan pages with millions of “fans” many of who have an interest in a business or product that might not ever actually buy from them.

The top of the pyramid is where loyalty is earned. It is the domain of the best businesses and brands. Here, customers literally form long-term relationships with businesses and use their products and services to help define who they are. What does marketing look like at this level? A great example is Whole Foods. The company goes far beyond selling natural and organic groceries. They have aligned themselves with a number of great causes, from sustainable living to fair trade. The offer educational opportunities with in their stores in the form of cooking classes.

Loyalty might be earned at the top of the pyramid, but it can be lost if it isn’t earned consistently.

We will look a little more closely at each section of the marketing pyramid over the next several days.

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