According to Wikipedia, “Relationship marketing was first defined as a form of marketing developed from direct response marketing campaigns which emphasize customer retention and satisfaction, rather than a dominant focus on sales transactions.”
So according to this description, customer satisfaction and retention are given priority over transactions and sales. It’s more people focused.
Over the past few years marketing has undergone changes so that whereas in former times the company controlled marketing, the consumer now does. In addition, where a customer had to wait days or weeks for a response from the company, the consumer now basically determines how long they are willing to wait for information from companies without complaining… on social media. It’s never been easier to send out a Tweet or a Facebook post with a complaint.
According to research by The Social Habit, “Among respondents to The Social Habit who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 32% expect a response within 30 minutes. Further, 42% expect a response within 60 minutes.
In view of the significant changes in customer expectations, how can businesses build relationships with their customers and clients so that they become their loyal customers and raving fans?
Before answering that question, I’d like to draw your attention to the definition of relationship marketing given by Jay Deutsch:
“I view relationship marketing as a brands ability to create an emotional connection with the consumer.” (italics mine)
This is significant, because as I’ve written in blog posts before, ‘until your customer is emotionally connected to you, you do not have a loyal customer.’ Emotions and feelings are at the root of relationship marketing. Here are just 5 of the many ways you can build the relationship:
- Keep the lines of communication open between you and your customers/clients/prospects/readers. Small businesses, especially, have an edge over larger corporations because they have the opportunity to develop those personal relationships so that the customer will seek to talk to them first rather than taking any concerns to social media.
- Create top-of-mind awareness by staying in touch with your clients and customers on a regular basis. One effective tried and true way is through email. This does not mean bombarding them with sales and affiliate marketing offers, but providing good content to educate and empower them on a regular basis. At the same time it’s important to know their preferred method of communication. If they prefer text messages, then that’s an area to be explored.
- Allow your clients, customers, and readers to get to know you personally. It means that you have to let your personality show through your communication with them and share information that allows them to see you as a real person whom they can relate to. This is especially true if you’re marketing online where there is limited or no one on one contact.
- If there are complaints, treat every complaint or issue as an opportunity to further your relationship marketing efforts.
- Try to handle complaints personally, whenever possible. It shows that you personally care about the customer and want to make sure that they are happy by resolving the issue to their satisfaction, or at least amicably.
A bonus tip is to make sure that you, not your customers or clients, define your personal brand and what your brand stands for, and work to ensure that how your personal brand and your corporate brand are represented in the marketplace are clear and distinct. Both types of branding go hand in hand and both are important for building relationships with your customers and clients.
All of the above tips and strategies can be effective in relationship marketing, but the most important thing you can do is to deliver superior customer service and make every contact with you and your business a delightful experience. One that they want to experience repeatedly, and are delighted to share with their connections. This way they’ll willingly become your loyal advocates and raving fans.
How do you use relationship marketing in your business? Claim your FREE copy of my Special Report: Stop Losing Your Best Clients: Time-Tested Tips for Customer Retention at http://retaincustomersnow.com.
Thank you for reading.