Effective marketers know a secret to building a loyal customer base. Like many great ideas, they didn’t think of it themselves.

They stole it from dog trainers.

If you want to create raving fans, you just have to follow their lead: Treat your customers like dogs. Reward them when they do what you want. But not with doggie biscuits!

Reward the faithful

You may have noticed this – a lot of businesses get it backwards.

They only reward first-time customers. In some cases, it seems to be an industry-wide practice.

They lure customers in with a special offer. Sure, it’s important to get people to try you out.

But if you never give long-time customers a treat, why should they remain your customers? Why shouldn’t they just go to one of your competitors who happens to be offering an incentive to new customers?

Make sure your promotional budget includes rewards for your faithful customers. Can’t afford it, you say?

Research shows it costs 5 – 7 times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. Can you afford not to?

You’ll make more money, more dependably by rewarding the faithful. And they don’t require large treats to be happy!

Give them something they want

You won’t win most dogs over by giving them broccoli as a treat. The same goes for prospective customers.

You have to give them something they want. It should have a high perceived value. It should be something that’s important to them.

For example, you may give them a special report or white paper in exchange for their e-mail address. Sure, it may cost you a little bit of time and money to put the report together. But you have gained something valuable – the ability to continue communicating with the prospective customer.

After that, the cost is minimal – you can automate the process of requesting it and deliver it digitally for nearly free.

Yet it creates a powerful impact on your customers. It provides them with information they’re looking for. It shows them how to make their life and/or business better. It helps make the buying decision easier.

Don’t make them wait

You noticed in the example we just discussed, we talked about automating the process and delivering it digitally.

That’s an important point – don’t make your prospects or customers wait. If you make a dog wait for hours or days to get a treat, the reinforcement effect is lost.

We live in an instant gratification society. When we want something, we want it now. You’ll get the best results if you give them something to devour immediately.

Reward your customers when they do something you like. It will make them wag their tail. Um, what we meant to say was: They’ll spread the word about you and your business!

How do you reward customers?