How Lighting Showrooms Can Generate Loyal Customers
March 7, 2012 - 4:09pm
Bolivar J. “BJ” Bueno, founder of The Cult Branding Co. and NonBox Consulting, says going above and beyond to establish and cater to a loyal group of customers can set lighting showrooms apart in the marketplace.

Residential Lighting: What is a cult brand?

B.J. Bueno: A cult brand helps a company [maintain] incredible, beyond-belief loyalty. With it, customers will come from all over to shop your store. Ask them why, and they’ll say, “I feel like I belong.” Cult branding is a way to create a sense of community.

RL: How can lighting retailers tap into this concept?

BB: Discover your brand lovers, your most loyal customers of the moment. Think about them. Who are they? Get into weird details about them. Meet them. What are you giving them? [You want to connect] to an emotion. How do they feel? A lot of businesses get lost here. If they didn’t feel good about you, they’d go somewhere else.

RL: Is it worthwhile to invest in expensive research?

BB: No. Start with purchase histories. [Research the buying habits of customers who’ve been shopping from you for years.] Take them to lunch. Ask them a few questions about your business. Ask them, “What is the most disappointing thing about the business?” You don’t have to be scientific about it; just use your intuition.

RL: What do we do with the collected information?

BB: [Once you] figure out why your customers are coming to you for lighting, fine tune the experience for them. Arrange the experience. Let’s say that you’re going for “luxury.” When someone makes a purchase over $10,000, you could send an orchestra to their home, [while they entertain their friends] for an hour or so. Or, it could be just giving them Godiva chocolate as they walk in.

RL: How can we deal with price competitors?

BB: Remember that there are three types of customers: transactional customers, relational customers and loyalists— the cult-brand-lovers. The transactional customer thinks about price, proximity and convenience. The relational customer feels first, thinks later. The loyalist is already your customer. The number one way a small business can survive against The Home Depot or any competitive force is by embracing the relational customer. You can teach people about the fixtures you carry, why they’re important and why they’ll love them in their home. Wal-Mart can’t do that. Target can’t do that. The key to turning relational shoppers into loyalists is to embrace them, listen to them—dig deep.

Cult Branding Basics

Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different.

- Cult-brand inventors show daring and determination.

- Cult brands sell lifestyles.

- Cult brands always create customer communities.

- Cult brands are inclusive.

- Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw power from their enemies.

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