Apr 9, 2015

Come For The Service, Stay For The Relationship

The simplest things can make your brand sticky.

I am continually surprised by the power of relationships. This hit home for me this week as I returned to Element Crossfit after a nine month hiatus.

I was lured away by the enormous Lifetime Fitness near my home. On paper Lifetime has everything: 3 pools, saunas, a spa, rock climbing walls, every fitness class imaginable, tons of free weights, and hundreds of cardio machines. And all of this is laid out in a stunning 150,000 square foot facility.

But for all of Lifetime’s features it was lonely. It was like going to the mall. Lots of people, and no one knows each other.

Returning to Element was a stark contrast. Element Crossfit is minimalistic in comparison, but its community is incredible. Within minutes of walking into the gym I was greeted by old friends, introduced to new members, and immediately incorporated into the culture.

The people make the experience stick!

Relationships Create Comfort

Strong relationships form a bond with your clients. It makes your brand comfortable.

To illustrate this, do you have a favorite restaurant — one you visit on a regular basis? If so, what do you enjoy most about the restaurant?

For years I went to a local sushi restaurant, Kumai. My wife and I went every Friday for date night, and I’d stop in a couple times a week for lunch. The food was excellent, but it was the people that made the restaurant special. We knew the owner and his staff, and they knew us. And over the years we became friends. The relationships enriched the experience.

In 2013 Kumai-san retired and closed the restaurant, and I still miss it. It felt like home to go there.

Make Personal Connections a Priority

Forming deep, personal connections with your clients is not accidental. As an organization you either prioritize customer relationships or you don’t. There really isn’t a middle ground.

Element Crossfit takes its member relationships very seriously. As a small business they cannot compete with the features and benefits of large, publicly traded companies like Lifetime Fitness. But they can compete and win by focusing on the essence of their brand experience.

Community and relationship building are baked into the business’s core values.

Element’s staff are trained and managed on how to interact with the members. Events and activities are organized to facilitate members interacting with each other. And deliberate attention is made to grow a community.

Many of these activities are insanely easy to implement. For example, before each class the trainers do a short exercise with the members to foster connections. They’ll have each member introduce themself and answer a short question like, “How do you make your cereal? Do you pour the cereal in first or the milk?”

The question is innocuous, but it sparks a short conversation and sets the tone for the rest of the class.

These activities build upon each other, and very soon Element forms a deep bond with its customers. The gym becomes a very comfortable place.

Relationships Make Brands Sticky

It’s easy to overlook the impact personal connections can have on your brand. But relationships can tilt the odds in your brand’s favor.

Forming deep personal connections with your customers enriches the experience. It makes your brand more comfortable, but it also makes it more desirable.

Customers naturally gravitate towards the brands they know, like, and trust.

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