Some people say that marketing is superficial by nature. I disagree wholeheartedly.
That’s why I’m loving the rise of relationship marketing, which is based on the idea that if you create a sustained emotional connection to your audience, you’ll grow your business by improving the lives of your customer in a meaningful way.
In other words, you’re not marketing sales — you’re marketing trust. You have permission to forget about selling for a moment.
In a world of marketing clutter, it’s critical that all marketers understand a few key points about genuine relationship marketing. Here’s what you need to know to win and maintain the trust of your customers:
1. Drill down and get granular.
The modern human brain employs a powerful ad filter. To penetrate the barrier, your marketing campaign will need to be highly customized demographically and psychographically.
Don’t get intimidated; you don’t have to know every single quirk of your audience. But in general, your approach should take into account three key characteristics of your audience:
• Behavior and motivation: What does the customer ultimately want to do, and how do they find out about your solutions?
• Objections and obstacles: What does your target audience think about your product or service? What will make it difficult for them to commit?
• Disposition: How does your customer shop? Are they spontaneous and impulsive, or risk-averse and thoughtful?
Understanding your customer characteristics is equal parts analysis and imagination. Analytically, you should have ample data at your disposal to slice and dice and get a feel for your audience. Then, you can make and test a series of assumptions about what kind of a person this is, how they like to shop, etc.
2. Customers have more to offer than cash.
In real life, relationships based solely on materialism are short-lived. So why would the business world be any different?
Reciprocity is a solid foundation for a strong rapport with your customers, so while you give them content and assistance, don’t be shy to take a little too by asking them for advice. They won’t mind; in fact, quite the opposite. According to one report (download required),75% of customers expect brands to “understand their needs and expectations.”
There are at least three methods you should be employing to get customer feedback. One is informal social media surveys and impromptu questions. Another is more formal e-surveys to collect data. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is good old-fashioned face-to-face or phone meetings directly with your customer.
3. Focus on the entire experience.
You don’t build a relationship from one ad or one campaign. A true emotional connection takes time to nurture, and lots of touches.
Remember that traditional marketing is only one part of your business the customer interfaces with. To have a genuine relationship with your company, the customer will also need an amazing sales experience, regular communications and ample post-sale support.
Why post-sale support? Because that’s where your best customers are. Most marketers today know that repeat customers spend more per purchase (subscription required), and they also cost far less to acquire.
Here’s your homework.
Relationship marketing is equal parts of philosophy and strategy, and it can seem overwhelming at first. If you’re unsure of where to begin, here are a few action items you can use to get started:
• Start a customer survey program.
• Create a strategy to incorporate feedback into business operations.
• Step up your social listening and interaction programs.
• Identify your most engaged customers, and send them personalized “thank you” messages.
• Keep careful tabs on new customer challenges and competitor products in your industry.
• Focus on quality in product development, even if it means arriving later to market.
• Strive to make your customers feel appreciated.
• Create a direct line of communication from your marketing team to the customer base.
• Revise your customer personas multiple times per year.
Relationship marketing is human to human (H2H).
When marketers think of audiences, demographics and affinities, they often overfocus on the forest and lose sight of the trees. Relationship marketing is a return to basics: If you treat people right and send the right message to the right person at the right time, good things happen.
Prioritize building trust. If you can offer an excellent sales experience, provide content that helps solve problems and incorporate customer feedback into your business’s DNA, sales will inevitably come.
Three Keys For Marketers In The Age Of Relationship Marketing – Forbes