How Your Startup Can Re-Claim Customer Loyalty In The Digital Age

Hands up if you grew up with Omo, Blueband, Royco, Kimbo and Sony.

Now hands up if you currently have Ariel, Prestige, Knorr, Kasuku or Samsung in your house.

When did you make the switch?

Why did you?

In my past life as an Advertising Executive, I managed a major beverage brand that had been losing its Kenyan market share for almost ten years consecutively. The brand custodians had tried everything, from changing the packaging design, to trying to bring back the lost glory of a lost sport to launching a ‘cooler’ looking variant of the brand.

Nothing was working.

Something was terribly wrong and thanks to the forward thinking nature of a newly hired marketing manager, the brand was poised for a complete overhaul that would re-invigorate the brand’s positioning in the market.

Below is the strategy to use for you to also re-claim customer loyalty in this digital age with so many options.

Re-think What Your Startup Brand Stands For

We went out to interact with customers across the country first hand in their natural setting, and got them to tell us what their love 💖 affair with the brand had been like over the last few years.

We questioned every aspect of the brand, from the logo, to the package, to the advertising from "yester-years" in light of what customers felt about the brand.

No question was too tough to ask.

Align Your Startup's Brand Journey With The Customer Journey

We discovered that while the brand had been enjoying a dominant place in the market, newer brands were coming in and bit by bit, creating personal connections with our customers at the grass root levels.

While the company did mega TV spots and billboards, newer brands were going directly to customers, recruiting them one retail outlet at a time.

While the company ran radio spots, these brands were collecting mobile numbers and talking directly to customers. While the Company did expensive road shows, these brands were becoming the talk of Twitter and Facebook thanks to their ‘out-of-the-box’ marketing tactics.

Our brand had been ‘out of touch’ with the customer for a while.

Think Through Each Brand Touch Point

I remember us holding what could easily have been called mini-conferences that brought in everyone from outdoor advertising agencies to experiential marketers to digital agencies into one room. We had one objective; to understand what each player did, and propose how each of us would build into the other party’s activities so as to form a unified marketing activity.

No matter which touch point customers used to interact with the brand, be it radio, TV or Facebook, it would have to feel like an extension of the previous touch point.

Set Clear Expectations

We all had one goal; to get X more people to consume this beverage.

The Godfather

Each of us would need to show how our communication channel helped generate more sales by the end of the campaign.

Have A Post-Campaign Strategy

It was easy to get people excited about the brand through a major re-launch event and subsequent promotions, but we were not looking for a one hit wonder.

We needed to sustain the momentum created by the re-launch. We needed customers to revert to consuming this beverage as much as they used to back in the day, and more importantly, we needed loyal customers to become our ambassadors and help us recruit more consumers.

The brand had to become a way of life again.

The Outcome

Thanks to our interaction with customers, we got a new one liner that perfectly described our model consumer. We decided to make it the Brand’s new tag line.

We turned this tag line into a conversation by expressing it in unusual daring ways through above the line and below the line channels. A day after launch, it became a trending hash tag across twitter (reaching over 1 million twitter users with zero spend) and was being referenced by radio presenters to describe a certain character trait that struck a perfect chord with our customers.

We had not paid these radio presenters a cent.

Through on-ground recruitment and social media channels, we managed to directly interact with thousands of our most loyal customers, and thanks to their subscriptions, the brand has since continued to interact with them on a weekly basis.

Most importantly, the brand has since seen an upward rise in unit sales and is on its way back to the top of the pack and to crown it all, we won the Best Integrated Marketing Campaign Award at that year’s marketing awards.

It's not rocket science!

If the one cent spent on a great TV Ad is not being felt a year after the Ad stops running, then that Ad was money down the drain. In the Digital Age, Advertisers have to re-think traditional approaches to gain BIG returns from campaigns.

Alex Muriu

About Alex Muriu

Head of Digital Marketing at KCB Bank Group. Founded and sold Internet Startup. Held senior positions at Kenya’s leading Ad Agencies and privately consulted for businesses.

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