How Do You Keep Customers Coming Back to You?

How Do You Keep Customers Coming Back to You?

How Do You Keep Customers Coming Back to You?

Joe has a gift. He can turn mere words into money – lots of money. And I was there to learn from the best. So I was pumping him for nuggets of wisdom.

Joe was bored with me though. He was playing with me – like a lazy cat with a tiny mouse.

So when he suddenly asked me, “why do people write such cheesy ads,” I didn’t take the bait. He was the Master. I was the Student.

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My lips were zipped, waiting for the punchline.

I’ll never forget that wicked little smile that spread across his face. He paused a beat, then jumped to his feet, clapping his hands by his ear as he answered his own riddle with a little rhyme.

Cuz’ it’s easy (clap clap clap)

To be cheesy (clap clap clap).

Cheese is for Sandwiches

I was thinking of Joe today as I watched one of Toyota’s “Pat” ads.  Pat gets paid a ton of money to act like a complete moron in Toyota commercials. Those commercials are cheesy as hell. Cheesy and offensive. I guess they took about 4 minutes to write.

They feature the unholy trinity of lousy writing:

  •         Fake emotions
  •         Fake feelings
  •         Fake sentiment

See, the biggest problem with ads like these is that they have no respect for the audience. The only authentic emotion in that ad is the utter contempt the writer feels for his audience.

And we – the audience – can feel his contempt.

Pro Tip: Wanna keep customers coming back to you? Don’t treat them with contempt.

Authentic Emotion is the Powerful Attractor

On the other hand, authentic emotion is impossible to resist.

Compare the horrible Toyota “Pat” ads to Subaru’s sublime “I’m Sorry” ad. I wrote about those ads here.

Watch the Subaru ad, then watch a Toyota “Pat” ad. Which one made you feel good? Which one made you want to vomit?

If you’re a parent, I guarantee you loved the Subaru ad. You are the kind of person they want as a customer.

(If you’re a professional clown, maybe you loved the Toyota ad. And maybe that’s who they want. I dunno.)

Question: would you rather share your Thanksgiving dinner with the guy who wrote the Subaru ad? Or with the guy who writes these stupid Toyota Pat commercials?

See, to get customers coming back to you, you must get them emotionally connected to you. So you to treat them with dignity, with respect and genuine feeling.

You don’t carpet-bomb your target audience with stupid, thoughtless messages. And you especially don’t take the easy-cheesy route.

Be real. Be simple. Share your common humanity. Open your heart to touch their hearts.

Subaru’s simple, direct message – with authentic emotion – is worth 10,000 phony and irritating Toyota Pat commercials.

Beware the Millennial BS Detector

If   you struggle to add authentic emotion to your message, ask us for help. (We’re pros.) At the very least, show some respect to your audience and refrain from resorting to cheese, ok?

If your target audience is under 35, authentic emotion is even more essential. Millennials in particular seem to be repelled by contrived emotion.

If you want to be irresistible, then be real. If you want customers coming back to you for years, be honest.

Contrived emotion — aka: “cheese” — provokes contempt from your audience. Authentic emotion says, “I respect you. I relate to you. I am just like you.”

Now, here’s how to do that.

Refine your persona down to 3 or 4 of its essential elements. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your company persona or your personal persona.

These 3 or 4 qualities will form the “voice” you use to talk with your customers. It should be a voice they can respect and also identify with. This is how you hook their hearts.

Need some guidance creating that persona? Download our free guide called Create Your Own Character Diamond.

Joe would be proud.

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What Makes Customers Loyal to a Brand?

What Makes Customers Loyal to a Brand?

What Makes Customers Loyal to a Brand?

How do you keep customers loyal? This question has haunted me since 1990.

I noticed that loyalty is an emotional response, not a decision. Let me illustrate.

Try a thought experiment with me. Imagine a group of 3- & 4-year-olds playing together on a playground. Their mothers watch from benches around the edge.

Now, imagine that you walk up to a child who doesn’t know you and yell at him as if you were very angry. The child’s mother sees you approach and hears you yelling at her child.

Can you predict what will happen next?

Of course you can. We know exactly how she will respond.

First, her adrenal glands will pour adrenalin into her bloodstream. Her body temperature will spike, her face will flush, her pulse will race and her respiration will increase.

If you ask her what she is feeling, she will say something like “righteous anger.”

She will spring out of her seat and sprint towards her child. She will scoop the child up into her arms, placing herself between you and the child. Then she will almost certainly attack you verbally using language you would normally expect from a drill sergeant.

Stimulus. Response.

As predictable as the sunrise. Easy to create on command.

The Mysterious Roots of Loyalty

That young mother won’t think about it before she springs to rescue her child. Her response is entirely involuntary. It requires no conscious effort on her part.

Loyalty is like that. It arises from deep inside us. It’s source is beyond our control.

Today, I’m meeting a friend to talk about how to cultivate brand loyalty. We’re meeting at my favorite coffee shop.

I’ve been to this coffee shop probably thirty times in the last eight months. I’ll be here again later this week. I take a lot of meetings here. Something keeps pulling me back here.

Why do I keep coming back? Is it the ambiance? I doubt it. Plenty of coffee shops look, sound and feel pretty much like this place.

And it isn’t the coffee. Although I love coffee, I prefer the infinite refills I can get other places.

And how much money have I dropped here this year? I know it’s a lot; more than I planned to spend.

So why am I so loyal to this particular coffee shop? I pass a dozen coffee shops every time I come to this one. What makes people loyal? What makes me loyal?

The Illusion of Quality

Would it surprise you to learn that you can create stimulate loyalty in customers just like you can stimulate anger in that young mother?

Obviously, this flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

For decades, going back to Tom Peters’ book In Search of Excellence, business people have taken the following logical statement as an article of faith:

IF you create a


  • Quality Product and deliver
  • Quality Service at a
  • Quality Price with a
  • Quality Guarantee…




  • you’ll win the customer’s loyalty


It all sounds good. It makes sense. It might even be true. No one would argue that quality is unimportant.

However, there is another path to customer loyalty, a more direct path. It’s the path that cuts straight through to the heart of the customer. I discovered this more direct route by accident.

By now, you’ve read or heard the story of my friends joining a cult. That unlucky event led to this lucky discovery. I’ll state it explicitly:

Loyalty is an emotion, not a decision.

Just like the mother defending her child, loyalty is the response we experience when we get the right kind of stimulus.

It’s an emotion that you can easily learn to trigger. And because it is an emotion, it’s not under our conscious control. Give them the right stimulus, and people will nearly always respond with loyalty.

How Do You Gain Customer Loyalty?

Loyalty is complex cluster of emotions. And it is this cluster of emotions that compels people to stay when leaving seems like the “smart” move.

What amazes me is how easy it is to trigger those feelings. Or – to be more accurate – it’s easy to create the kinds of circumstances that will trigger those feelings in people.

We humans are weird. We believe we are rational, and yet deny it nearly every day with our own actions. (I shall refrain from giving the obvious examples. Just read the headlines.)

So, how do you keep customers loyal?


Well, first make them feel loyal. Do that, and they will act loyally.

So how do you do that?

I’ve identified five particular categories of words and actions that stimulate the loyalty reflex.

Whenever a person sees or hears these particular words or stories, or when they perform particular physical actions, they will respond with the emotion we know as “loyalty.”

As long as you give people the right clues, they will respond with the right feelings. And those feelings turn into the actions that we label “loyalty.”

Quality Works, Though There’s a Faster Way to Loyalty

I suppose Peters was probably right, in a roundabout way. If you deliver all kinds of amazing quality for your customer, you will most likely create good feelings in them.

However, the more effective ways to build brand loyalty are to directly stimulate the loyalty responses.

How can you make your personal brand unforgettable?
Free trial of Irresistible Persona.

(Personal) How It Started for Me

My fascination with the nature of loyalty started many years ago. This is the story.


This whole series is about how to create the kind of relationship with your customers that make them almost immune to offers from competitors.

It starts with a story- with your story. Now this is one thing that’s absolutely true about every human on the planet: Every person loves stories so I’m going to tell you a little bit about the story of my company, Cult Your Brand.

It all started with me and my two best friends. We’ll call them – let’s call them “Brad” and “William.”

Now there’s three characters in this story:

Me – I’m this tall kind of intellectual Midwestern guy who maybe over-thinks things and tends to procrastinate a little bit.

Brad grew up in Massachusetts and then moved to West Texas before moving on to Central Texas to go to school. He and I actually ended up going to the same University. He was an odd mixture that East Coast and West Texas. Really incredibly funny. An artist by nature, wildly creative but maybe a little bit a little insecure, maybe not totally sure of himself.

And then there was William who was just a Central Texas good-old-boy – an
entrepreneur, very practical.

So you’ve got the intellectual, the artist and the entrepreneur. We were best friends. We were like the three musketeers. We were together all the time, every day of the week, morning, noon and night.

We all had businesses we were working on trying to build.

And then this cult came to town.

Brad and William were both really fascinated by this cult. The promise that this cult made to people was that if you did things in their way – you know, saw the world and the universe and God and life through their lens – then you would save your children.

That was really the bottom line – make sure your kids grow up straight.

William’s wife henpecked him constantly to join. I had absolutely no interest. My wife had absolutely no interest. Brad was kind of caught between the two of us but at the end of the day he kind of would follow William wherever he went.

Ultimately they joined the cult and it destroyed our relationship. Not because I wanted it to be over but because the nature of the cult was that they couldn’t have friendships outside of the cult.

Well, that whole experience blew my mind. Because I watched these guys suffer
physical and mental and emotional abuse and yet maintain their loyalty to this
group. And I had to figure out, “what is it that causes people to be loyal even when the reason that they got connected with a group no longer exists.”

And that was the foundation of my company, Cult Your Brand.

Why Customers Leave: Where the Heart Goes, the Wallet Follows

Why Customers Leave: Where the Heart Goes, the Wallet Follows

“Normally, when I see numbers this low, they’re bringing you in on a table.”

Dr. K spoke the words without emotion. But his words stunned me. I stared at him, mouth open, barely breathing. I knew I felt bad. That’s why I came to him. What I didn’t know – till that precise moment – was how close I was to suddenly dropping dead.

I had stage 4 adrenal failure.

Stage 5 is sudden death.

Learn How to Craft an Irresistible Persona

Every brand requires 3 specific elements to capture the hearts of an audience:

  1. A Face
  2. External Qualities we Admire
  3. Internal Qualities we Relate To

In Irresistible Persona, you’ll learn the simple 4-step technique to quickly create all 3 elements for your own brand.

Irresistible Persona is presented in 8 power-packed video lessons designed to produce results you can use. 

You don’t need to be a brand expert to use these lessons. All you need is a powerful desire to succeed. This class shows you what to do and why it works. In as little as 60 minutes, you could have the essential elements of an Irresistible Persona.

Try the first 4 modules for free.

How Will You Turn One Sale into a Long-Term Relationship?

How Will You Turn One Sale into a Long-Term Relationship?

Last week I wrote about the sommlerheim, an ancient tool that solves a modern acoustic problem. Bad news: the sommlerheim doesn’t actually exist. That story was fiction. I told it to make a point about unconscious biases against old solutions. Today is different. Today I tell you about an ancient solution to a very modern problem: customer relationships. And that solution is 100% real.

“Relationship” Matters More than “Management”

Customer relationship management is a never-ending treadmill of gruntwork. CRM software is complex, people are contradictory and results can be confounding. Expectations are usually out of line with reality.


The whole point of “managing customer relationships” is the relationship, not the management.


And the whole point of the customer relationship is to make more sales.


So here is today’s burning question:


How will you turn one sale into a long-term relationship?


There has to be a better way than adding more CRM to your stack, right?


There is a better way. I’ll explain in just a moment.

How Do You “Earn” Loyalty?

A “long-term relationship” requires long-term commitment. If you want long-term relationships from your customers, how do you get that long-term commitment from them?


Or – to reframe the question – how do you get their loyalty?


The sommlerheim I wrote about last week triggered a lot of interest. People wrote asking me where to buy one.


And why not? If you need to design perfect acoustics, why use the slow and expensive method when there’s a proven, fast, cheap method?


Humans are weird though. I wrote about the sommlerheim to illustrate that weirdness. People will reject solutions that actually work. Not because the solutions are flawed, but because for cultural reasons.


It’s not rational. But it is real.


In my story from last week, people rejected the sommlerheim because they didn’t like the tribe that used it.


But you’re not like that, right? You’re evolved and open-minded and all about results, right?


Well, perhaps. Let’s see.


The problem of loyalty was solved thousands of years ago. The solution transcends language, ethnicity, race, gender and culture. Everywhere this solution has been applied, it has created long-term relationships.


And the solution comes with baggage: religion.

A Morally Neutral Template for Loyalty

How do you feel about it now? A little squeamish perhaps? That’s why the real reason you will reject this solution. Your brain will come up with reasonable-sounding excuses. But the real reason is that you feel squeamish.


That’s ok. You’re only human.


It’s strange but true: religion provides us a proven template for creating loyalty. Let me set your mind at ease, though.


The template works. Not because it’s religious or spiritual. All that stuff is window dressing.


It works because human nature hasn’t changed in a very, very, VERY long time. Sure, you’re human. And so is everyone you’re trying to reach.


So if you can take a chance that you might find some powerful ideas sitting inside the context of religion, you could create long-term relationships with your customers.


So let’s extract the template from religion. We will use only the specific techniques that create loyalty. We don’t need to fiddle about with all the other stuff.

The 5-Part Loyalty Template That’s Worked for Millennia

Here’s the simple 5-part technique religions use to create loyalty. It is not at all what you might expect. This is the template for creating long-lasting relationships – for creating loyalty – between yourself and almost anyone.


  1. Persona: You must have a persona.
    Your persona must have a face and a personality. The face should have two eyes and nose in the “upside-down triangle” shape. The personality should be both admirable and relatable.
  2. Origin Story: Share your origin story.
    Your origin story should features a hero who is an avatar of your ideal customer. He had the same struggle, yet overcame that struggle and now offers the solution. The “shape” of the story should follow one of the 3 story shapes that humans tend to respond to most positively, “Man in Hole”, “Boy Meets Girl” or “Cinderella.”
  3. Ritual: Observe rituals together.
    Humans innately understand play and bond over play. “Ritual” is just a grown-up word for “playing a game.” Play games with your customers.
  4. Manifesto: Proclaim your beliefs.
    Create an intentionally emotional manifesto, not a rational “Vision” or “Mission Statement.” of beliefs. It should be divisive and strident. It should divide the entire world into good guys and bad guys. It should make impossible demands.
  5. Lingo: Create your own internal lingo.
    Make it intentionally confusing.


Now, clearly there is a lot to unpack here. But these five elements are common to every successful religion. The reason they are common is because they work. The reason they work is because human beings are not rational. We are emotional. And very, very predictable.


Not what you expected, is it?


So, how do you turn a one-transaction sale into a long-term relationship? You use the techniques of loyalty that have been around for a very long time.


The problem of loyalty is old. The solution to the problem is almost as old.

The problem is still with us. Yet almost no one is using the solution.

What are you waiting for? This is your opportunity to set yourself apart.

Persuasion, Loyalty and Pain (Part 2)

Persuasion, Loyalty and Pain (Part 2)

Pain: Pathway to Loyalty

(In Part 1, I wrote about the relationship between pain and customer loyalty. In this post, I dig a little deeper into how that relationship works. Part 1 is here.)

Your prospects have a million different distractions fighting for their attention. And you need a way to break through that noise, right? You want to rise above the crowd, and make yourself the preferred supplier of whatever it is that you sell, don’t you?

There’s a zillion ways to do that.

You can hire marketing consultants to run your marketing campaigns for you. You can buy advertising and saturate your target market with your offers. You can hire copywriters and graphic artists and SEO experts and bombard digital media to get the word out.

Those ways all cost a lot of money. And I suspect that if you are reading this right now, you don’t have vast sums of money to spend. That’s the bad news. The good news? There is another way – a way that doesn’t take a lot of money. Instead, it leverages the power of your people’s pain.



Now, this next bit is really important for anyone who wants to create fanatically loyal customers. I’m gonna move pretty fast here, so hang on.

Leverage Our Most Fundamental Reality

Traditional advertising appeals to primal urges like sex, belonging and approval. But there is one urge even more primal and more compelling: the urge to escape pain. Psychologist Jordan B. Peterson believes pain is the most fundamental truth of human existence. And the one particular pain common to every human is this: the pain of an incomplete or fractured identity.

An incomplete identity is the result of unanswered questions. But not just any questions. Every human is driven to get answers to the 4 Big Questions:

  1. Where Am I From?
  2. Why I Am I Here?
  3. Where Am I Going?
  4. Who Am I?

Until recently, culture provided ready-made answers for those questions. And that is the normal way to get answers to those questions. But culture has fractured, (you see it everywhere), and individual identities suffer as a result of that fracturing.

That’s why cults are tempting to many people. Cults can attract, engage and keep people for one simple reason: the identity of the cult is more complete than the identity of the individual.

If you want to make a powerful impact with your brand, your brand’s “identity” must be more complete than the self-identity of the people you target.


Effective brands project an identity that is both consonant and complete. That means everything about the brand fits together, and there are no gaps in how the market perceives the brand.

Most brands do not project a consonant identity. Most brands are ineffective. And that’s why so few brands command fanatical loyalty.

If you want to make a powerful impact, then your brand’s “identity” must be more complete than the self-identity of the people you target. And these days, almost everyone suffers from a fractured identity.

Consonance Attracts, Dissonance Repels

When you project a strong, consonant identity into the marketplace, it exerts a gravitational pull on people. It is psychologically irresistible, and it has nothing to do with whatever it is you actually sell. Here’s why:

The opposite of “consonance” is “dissonance”. A strong, consonant brand is an irresistible force to anyone experiencing cognitive dissonance. (Remember, we talked about cognitive dissonance in part 1.)

On the other hand, if the identity you project is weak, incomplete and dissonant, then it will actually repel people. (Maybe that’s why you aren’t getting better results… Just a thought.)

Almost no one is consciously aware of this effect, even though it happens constantly. It is subconscious.

As you might imagine, I am not talking about traditional advertising. I’m talking about making some adjustments in how you communicate with your market.

If you’re desperate for better results, then maybe it’s time you learned something new. Maybe it’s time you tapped into the subconscious drives of your prospects.

And there is no drive more compelling, more urgent or more common than the drive for a consonant self-perception.

Fill the Hole in Their Psyche

Someone who has a psychological addiction experiences gaps or “discontinuities” in their identities. Those gaps cause tremendous pain, often unrecognized pain. Addiction can numb the psychological pain, but does not cure it. This psychological pain is internal dissonance – a form of self-rejection.

So how can that help you create more loyal customers? Let me answer by asking a question: Do you offer anything that helps people?

If your offering helps people in any way, then you have the opportunity to ease their suffering. And if you can do that, you are not merely making a profit. You are actively helping to prevent even greater suffering. Now, your product or service alone won’t do that. But combine it with a consonant image and a coherent identity? Then you become their super-hero.

superheroCults offer people a more complete identity as a “remedy” for their own flawed identity. However, that offer is almost always poisoned with some form of psychological coercion.

You won’t do that. Instead, you’ll merely offer your customers a healthy, coherent and harmonic identity of your own. Combine that with a helpful product or service offering, and you can actually make the world a slightly better place.

This type of subliminal brand-identification activity has its roots in the same psychological phenomena that both triggers and strengthens psychological addiction. Yet when we do it this way – with a coherent brand identity – it is not corrosive to personalities. And it is far better for humanity if you can keep people out of the grip of cults.

Salve the psychological bruises and quiet the internal dissonance for your customers, and they will become fanatically loyal to you. Your place in their psyche will be unassailable because they won’t be conscious of how you’ve helped them. They’ll only know a deep devotion to you and your brand.

The memory of their pain will not linger. They will only be aware of a strong feeling of pleasure towards your brand.  In short, you become their hero. And if you are their hero, then you can be sure they will grant you their loyalty. And that translates into things you can spend: higher profits because your average lifetime customer value goes up, your customer acquisition costs go down and your word-of-mouth marketing increases.

That’s the way to ease a lot of your pain as well.

Your Brand as Pain Relief

Some “experts” say that a brand is a promise. I say phooey.

A brand is an identity.

“Find their pain” is a fairly typical approach to marketing. But when you commit to solving the problem of identity, you are addressing the most fundamental pain your customers feel. Great marketers have always done this intuitively. Remember Apple’s Think Different campaign? Or Nike’s Just Do It campaign. Those were targeted at identity, and that’s why they were so effective.

If the essence of your brand is strong, coherent, and consonant identity, it will inevitably pull people into its gravitational orbit.

On the other hand, if the essence of your brand is fractured, then it holds very little attraction to all but the most broken and desperate people in your market.

When your essence is fractured and incoherent and dissonant, you are nothing but a vendor. That’s the retail version of hell. No one wants to be there.

Next week, I’ll talk about specific steps you can take to give your brand an irresistible identity.

How can you make your personal brand unforgettable?
Free trial of Irresistible Persona.