Submitted by: Veronica McKee, Vice President, Marketing, Philly Pretzel Factory

No matter what business you are in, you are in the relationship business. No doubt you’ve heard this advice before. Success lies within building new relationships and deepening existing relationships. In this respect, selling soft pretzels is no different than being in finance.

When I got out of college, I started working as a stock broker. If you work in banking or investing you know intrinsically about relationships. Your ability to build rapport, understand goals, and match what they need as often as possible is what keeps the customer. It’s the same formula across all industries.

To be honest, I hated working as a stock broker. It was a real “Boiler Room” firm where the relationships were disingenuous and making money for yourself was the only goal. I needed more! I wanted to create an obsession worthy experience for customers who were genuinely happy with our transactions.

This is where the day-to-day brand experience and special events come into my story. What could I do that was simple yet so satisfying that customers kept coming back? I grew up selling soft pretzels on Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philly, so that is where I turned. However, that was not an obsession worthy experience.  Starting without any advertising budget, we built the obsession with Philly Pretzel Factory one purchase, one relationship at a time.

By talking with our customers, we learned about birthdays, graduations and little league championships. We created products that they could take and share at celebrations. When you create an opportunity for your customers to interact with your brand, they form a personal experience with your brand. This embeds the product in their memories and creates nostalgic feelings.  A deeper relationship helps to ensure that when there is a choice, the customer chooses your product over any other alternative.

Likewise, we develop events like National Pretzel Day (April 26th) to increase brand awareness, get people in the door to see the bakery in action, and create an urgent need for the product. Sure, we give away one free pretzel to everyone that day, but we get paid back in not only sales but also in smiles from loyal customers who feel rewarded, and from new customers trying the product risk free.

Just like you need to understand your clients’ needs, try to understand how they want to interact with your brand and them give them an experience worth talking about.