A blog is like a company in many ways. When you first start out, you get readers that notice you when you are a young and naive blogger. They see that you have something to say and stop by your blog for a read. For a company, these are the early adopters or your first few customers. You then have the mainstream readers who come along later on and see what other people are talking about. It's these types of customers that helps a business grow. It's at this point where you either ascend into a power house or drop off like yesterday's news.
One of the main differentiators between a successful blog and one that withers away is how you treat your loyal readers. You can compare this to how a company treats its customers. Does the company take the customers for granted and just focus on new business (or more web traffic in a blog's case)? This is just plain stupid. One company that really gets this is the car manufacturer Mini. Mini USA has just come up with a brilliant campaign in which custom messages on billboards are displayed to Mini owners as they drive by. How cool is that?
According to Motoring File, a select number of Mini owners around the Chicago, New York, Miami and San Francisco areas were asked to submit some basic information and are then sent a keyfob (key chain item that can contain data). As you're about to drive by, the billboards detect that you are coming and deliver a personalized message based on the information you provided.
Make Them Feel SpecialWhy does this campaign work for Mini? It makes their customers feel unique - like the company really does care about them and that owning a mini is like being part of a select group. You almost feel like a celebrity because your the only one of your friends or family that are getting personalized message on a humongous billboard. Mini USA doesn't just forget about you once you buy a car - they make you remember why you bought the car in the first place. It made you stick out. It made you feel special.
Do your remember the time that you were singled out by your boss, your best friend, or a close family member in front of others? What Mini has done is try and replicate that feeling and they've done a damn good job. Other companies (and bloggers) should learn from Mini and try and replicate this approach. In the B2B world this could mean taking your customers out for drinks but this may not be possible. What can you do that will make your company stick out? What can you do that will make your customers "cool" and will make your prospects want to feel the same way? Yes, your product may do all the talking but what else can you do that will reinforce your cool product? This is something to think about.
Personalizing the Experience but Doing it PubliclyI was going to stop the post right there but had some ideas for you to think about. What if you served up different messaging to your customers on your website based on their profile? What if your ads on sites that your customers visit had different messaging that was personalized to them? What if you're blog greeted your loyal readers when they returned with an automated yet personalized message like "Welcome back! Thanks for your last comment - I've responded with the following...".
While the personalization is great, it's better when others see that you are receiving special treatment. Why not let prospects know who which of your customers are currently visiting your web site. You can even display quotes and facts and figures about the company. For example "XYZ company is currently on our website. Did you know that XYZ has increased sales 300% since using our product?". Privacy may be an issue but this type of thinking benefits everyone. It's time to think outside of the box like Mini does. Get publicly personal (does that make sense?)
If you're a company, you can always try and drive additional revenue by focusing on some new companies or a specific market segment. If you're a blogger you can focus on driving web traffic by doing number of different tactics (for example, joining a blog directory). But as we all know, it costs less to keep your current customers then to acquire new ones. If you keep your current customers happy and continue to remind them why your company is different from your competitors (besides the obvious stuff), you will not only build customer loyalty but generate increased demand as word travels fast, real fast in this crazy technical web 2.0. world that we live in.
PS: I would like to point out one blogger, Easton Ellsworth, who was very encouraging to me when I first started blogging. He also demonstrates tremendous drive and leadership in the blogosphere - specifically to business blogging - that you have to love. Whenever I need a good kick in the pants to get back to my own blogging, I go visit Business Blogwire and see which companies are out there blogging.
PPS: For my own blog, loyalty is not too much of a concern as I write more as a personal educational experience then for those who read my blog. I'm really pleased when people get something out of what I write about.
PPPS: Here are some related posts that you may find interesting:
IBM Allows you to Chat With a Sales Representative
Have you Thanked Your Customers Today?
Screw ROI - Think LOI (Loyal Opt-Ins)