Money can't buy one of the most important things you need to promote your business: relationships. How do customer relationships drive your business? It's all about finding people who believe in your products or services. And when it comes to tracking these people down, you have two choices:
You can do all the legwork yourself and spend big marketing dollars. But that's like rolling a boulder up a hill. You want to drive your business into new territory, but every step is hard and expensive. There's another less painful–and potentially more profitable-way…
You can create an army to help you push that boulder up the hill instead. How do you do that? You develop relationships with people who don't just understand your particular expertise, product or service, but who are excited and buzzing about what you do. You stay connected with them and give them value, and they'll touch other people who can benefit your business.
Powerful relationships don't just happen from one-time meetings at networking events–you don't need another pocketful of random business cards to clutter your desk. What you need is a plan to make those connections grow and work for you. And it's not as hard as you think. Here are five essential tactics:
Now that you know what customer relationship marketing is and how it will help to propel you to success, let’s look at how to do it.
First things first:
1.Understand Your Core Values, Vision, and Mission
Your values, vision, and mission are the foundation of your brand – and as such, the bedrock of your relationship marketing efforts.
Crafting a message that resonates with your target audience begins with clearly understanding this foundation.
If you don’t know what you stand for and the impact you want to create, how will others?
This is why it’s important to create a powerful mission and vision statements. Effective vision and mission statements unify an organization. It’s like planting a flag that your target audience can rally around.
If you don’t plant a flag, people can’t really.
Once you know your core values, vision, and mission, you can begin to identify and attract other people with the same worldview and goals.
2. Know Who You’re Targeting
As dumb as it sounds, you can’t ask someone to prom until you know who you’re going to invite.
The same is true of relationship marketing.
Relationships are built on understanding and genuine interaction. So it’s essential to have a clearly defined target audience so you know how to tailor your messaging and interactions.
The more specific you can get, the better.
Elizabeth Gardner, the founder of Garnish Media, said it best: “It’s hard to target a message to a generic 35-year-old middle-class working mother of two. It’s much easier to target a message to Jennifer, who has two children under four, works as a paralegal and is always looking for quick but healthy dinners, and ways to spend more time with her kids and less time on housework.”
Luxy Hair knows exactly who they’re targeting: Women in their twenties with a strong interest in makeup, hair, and fashion.
As a result, all of their relationship marketing features images and videos of women within their target audience.
#3. Work to Resonate and Connect
Once you know who you’re targeting, you need to find a way to resonate and connect with them.
Every video, ad, social media post, and email should make your target audience think, “Wow, they get me!”
As Ann Handley, Head of Content at MarketingProfs said, “Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time.”
Deathwish Coffee does a great job of this.
Check out the product page below where they use direct, bold language designed to resonate with their target market: “100% No B-S Guarantee.”
#4 Wherever Your Target Audience Is, Be There
Great relationships take time to develop and deepen.
So be everywhere in your target audience’s lives. You want to pop up in their email inbox, their social media feeds, and alongside their favorite influencers.
To be clear, you don’t want to spam them. You just want to have a presence wherever they spend the most time.
If you’ve clearly defined your target audience, this is easier than you might think.
To get started, partner with influencers in your niche.
These fitness influencers represent the Gymshark brand to their large social media followings and within the fitness community.
This serves to keep Gymshark at the forefront of its target audience’s thoughts.
#5 Harness The Power of Word of Mouth
People talk. And thanks to the internet, word travels fast.
“It used to be that if you made a customer happy, they would tell five friends,” Bezos said in an interview on Forbes. “Now, with the megaphone of the internet, whether online customer reviews or social media, they can tell 5,000 friends.”
What’s more, word of mouth is powerful.
It’s such an influential form of communication that, 84 percent of consumers say that the recommendation of a friend or family member is their most trusted source when making a purchase decision.
As author and marketing professor Jonah Berger said, “Advertising brings in customers, but word of mouth brings in the best customers.”
#6 Give More Than You Take
Great businesses know that success comes from serving others. Whether it’s your product or service, the more you serve, the more you earn.
Think about it: Everyone knows someone who only ever talks about themselves – and no one likes to talk to them.
The same is true of your business communications.
To put it another way: It ain’t about you, it’s about them. And more specifically, it’s about finding ways to create value for your target audience.
Marketer and author Seth Godin said, “Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them, more able to get where they’d like to go.”
So make sure all of your relationship marketing benefits those you’re communicating with.
Matt Goulart, the founder of marketing agency Ignite Digital, explains: “Social media is about the people. Not about your business. Provide for the people and the people will provide for you.”
#7 Use Content to Deepen Customer Relationships
Producing great content is an essential part of relationship marketing, as it’s an opportunity to create real value for your target audience without any expectation of an immediate return.
Travel gear brand Minaal creates inspirational content, as well as practical articles on:
- Packing a Suit in a Carry-On
- Keeping Your Passport Safe
- Eating Healthy While Travelling
This content is extremely helpful to Minaal’s target market of travelers. And in helping their target market, they build trust and an ongoing rapport.
The key to great content is understanding that it’s not about you – it’s about your target audience.
So remember what David Beebe, the founder, and CEO of Storified Hospitality Group, said: “Content marketing is like a first date. If you only talk about yourself, there won’t be a second one.”
#8 Ensure Your Relationship Marketing Efforts are Consistent
Relationships must be constantly maintained, otherwise, they will quickly wither and die.
Beardbrand has taken things a step further.
To ensure they’re effectively deepening customer relationships, they set up a special community for their community dubbed “The Alliance.”
#9 Don’t Just Talk, Listen
Relationships are a two-way street.
So relationship marketing must take into account as much listening as speaking.
Resist the urge to just broadcast to your customers without any thought of engaging them directly.
Business growth expert Meridith Elliott-Powell said, “To emotionally connect with customers we must listen. Listening sends a strong message that tells customers that this relationship will be more about their needs than ours. That builds trust.”
Kylie Cosmetics retweets and replies to tons of customer tweets on Twitter. This has contributed to the development of a community of incredibly devoted customers.
Plus, feedback is gold.
Listening to feedback from your customers presents a powerful opportunity to understand those aspects of your business which are worth investing in, and those that are a waste of valuable resources.
“Almost 90 percent of social media messages are unanswered by brands who send four times as many posts as replies,” said executive coach Lianne Lyne. “Build an emotional connection to your customers and create compelling stories by developing a social customer satisfaction strategy. Establish what resources you’ll need to ensure consistency, listen carefully to what your customers are saying, and respond authentically on time.”
#10 Use Technology to Personalize Customer Interactions
How would you feel if you opened an email and the first line read, “Dear Customer 602341…”?
It’s fair to say everyone dislikes this sort of treatment.
Relationship marketing relies on personal connections. To do it well, you must personalize all of your communications.
This is easy to do when selling in person or over the phone, but what about when you’re marketing to thousands of people online?
Leading authority in buyer personas Tony Zambito said, “Instead of using technology to automate processes, think about using technology to enhance human interaction.”
#11. Build your network–it's your sales lifeline.
Your network includes business colleagues, professional acquaintances, prospective and existing customers, partners, suppliers, contractors, and association members, as well as family, friends, and people you meet at school, church and in your community.
Contacts are potential customers waiting for you to connect with their needs. How do you turn networks of contacts into customers? Not by hoping they'll remember meeting you six months ago at that networking event. Networking is a long-term investment. Do it right by adding value to the relationship, and that contact you just made can pay off. Communicate like your business's life depends on it. (Hint: And it does! Read on.)
#12. Communication is a contact sport, so do it early and often.
Relationships have a short shelf life. No matter how charming, enthusiastic or persuasive you are, no one will likely remember you from a business card or a one-time meeting. One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they come home from networking events and fail to follow up. Make the connection immediately. Send a “nice to meet you” e-mail or let these new contacts know you've added them to your newsletter list and then send them the latest copy. Immediately reinforce who you are, what you do and the connection you've made.
You rarely meet people at the exact moment when they need what you offer. When they're ready, will they think of you? Only if you stay in their minds. It's easier to keep a connection warm than to warm it up again once the trail goes cold. So take the time to turn your network of connections into educated customers.
#13. E-mail marketing To keep relationships strong on a shoestring budget.
Build your reputation as an expert by giving away some free insight. You have interesting things to say! An easy way to communicate is with a brief e-mail newsletter that shows prospects why they should buy from you. For just pennies per customer, you can distribute an e-mail newsletter that includes tips, advice and short items that entice consumers and leave them wanting more. E-mail marketing is a cost-effective and easy way to stay on customers' minds, build their confidence in your expertise, and retain them. And it's viral: Contacts and customers who find what you do interesting or valuable will forward your e-mail message or newsletter to other people, just like word of mouth marketing.
#14. Reward loyal customers, and they'll reward you.
According to global management consulting firm Bain and Co., a 5 percent increase in retention yields profit increases of 25 to 100 percent. And on average, repeat customers spend 67 percent more than new customers. So your most profitable customers are repeat customers. Are you doing enough to encourage them to work with you again? Stay in touch, and give them something of value in exchange for their time, attention and business. It doesn't need to be too much; a coupon, notice of a special event, helpful insights and advice, or news they can use are all effective. Just remember: If you don't keep in touch with your customers, your competitors will.
#15. Loyal customers are your best salespeople.
So spend the time to build your network and do the follow-up. Today there are cost-effective tools, like e-mail marketing, that make this easy. You can e-mail a simple newsletter, an offer or an update message of interest to your network (make sure it's of interest to them, not just to you). Then they'll remember you and what you do and deliver value back to you with referrals. They'll hear about opportunities you'll never hear about. The only way they can say, “Wow, I met somebody good at XYZ. You should give her a call,” is if they remember you. Then your customers become your sales force.
If real estate is all about location, location, location, then the small business is all about relationships, relationships, relationships. Find them, nurture them, and watch your sales soar.
Relationship marketing is all about nurturing customer relationships to encourage people to feel emotionally invested in your brand.
Remember, relationship marketing isn’t transactional. It takes time to develop strong relationships with your customers.
However, it’s worth the effort.
If you get it right, it can bolster all of your other marketing and sales efforts, and generate a base of devoted customers.
When approaching relationship marketing, make sure to:
- Have a clear understanding of your core values, vision, and mission
- Deeply understand your target audience
- Tailor all of your messaging so that it resonates with your target audience
- Use strategies like influencer marketing to maintain a constant presence wherever your target market spends time to Encourage happy customers to spread the word about your brand through referral and affiliate campaigns
- Always work to give more than you take in every customer interaction
- Use content marketing to provide value to your target audience
- Maintain consistent communication with your target market using strategies like email marketing and social media
- Listen to your target audience and collect feedback which you can then use to improve your relationship marketing efforts
- Personalize your relationship marketing using tactics such as email list segmentation
Are you using relationship marketing to grow your business? How do you interact with your target audience? Let us know in the comments below!