The ability to make and maintain relationships is what makes relationship marketing a valuable marketing tool for your business.
We all know that as businesses have begun to use the internet, consumers have become overwhelmed with shopping options. Competition has never been higher. That’s why it’s so important to stand out and become a relationship marketer. Relationship marketing values building relationships over making sales and means engaging audiences and recognizing their humanness.
It’s surprisingly easy to do: all it takes is for you to develop a more personal relationship with customers. Of course, this isn’t new. Customer loyalty has always been valued. But traditional marketing didn’t always make it easy to maintain these relationships. Luckily, thanks to social media, we are able to focus on the things that can build relationships and make them last.
How do you lay the foundation for relationship marketing?
The best way to get leads is by word of mouth referrals. That is the essence of relationship marketing. Relationship marketing works not only to build referrals but to expand them online into world of mouth referrals. It’s taking everything you’re doing in person and making that available online.
How do you get started?
You first need to know who you want to build a relationship with. Meaning you need to understand your customers or what we like to call “buyer personas.”
You can uncover your buyer personas by simply asking a few questions like:
- What’s their job level and seniority?
- What does a day in their life look like?
- What do they value most?
- What are their most pressing problems?
- How do those problems make them feel?
What are the specific goals you’re trying to reach to improve your business growth and retention? Think of one year and five years goals. To determine how you can accomplish your goals ask questions like:
- What steps do you need to make to accomplish your goals?
- What metrics will best determine if you’ve reached your goal?
- What are some things you foresee holding you back?
- Who can hold you accountable?
These questions can help you figure out what you need to do to make your goals and create a plan. Once you have a plan you have to put it in action.
How do you begin to grow into relationship marketing?
You need to have an internet home base! A dedicated website will be the place people will find you, and it should have everything you and your customers need readily available. You want to make it stupid easy to not only do business with you but to connect with you. One of the things relationship marketing does best is to facilitate long-term relationships with your customers. You’ll have people coming back to you again and again, and insisting their friends and family do the same. Your focus shouldn’t be on selling so much as helping and serving your customer. That’s what you need to make obvious on your website.
I have a website. Now what?
The first thing to realize is that your website is never done. It can be ready to show off, certainly, but there will always be ways you can improve your website.
Start with these four website essentials and make your website easy to do business with you, which means:
- Make your messages clear on what you offer and who you help
- Make your contact information incredibly easy to get to.
- Have a way to educate your clients and stay in touch with them via email.
- Make a clear process to buy your product on the site or at least get more info.
In order to grow the relationship, you need to learn about your potential customers. You need to have some way of keeping in contact with them. This comes in the form of an email. But you shouldn’t just blindly ask for emails. Offer something of value in exchange for that email. Be an educational resource for people. It could be something simple like a guidebook to water softeners. It should have nothing to do with your business, it’s simply a way to give helpful information in exchange for an email address.
What about social media?
Social media is a huge asset for relationship marketers. You need to be consistently posting to some sort of social media platform. Which one will depend on your audience. You’ll find that most people have a Facebook page, so that’s usually a good place to start. But make sure you evaluate your customers and determine which platform will really work best for your business. Whatever channels you choose, make sure you have time to spend them. If you have time to spend on four or five platforms, great, but if you’re going to struggle juggling with so many, it’s probably not going to be worth it. You need to have time to post on each platform consistently. Keep that in mind.
Once you decide which platforms will work best for you, you’ll want to figure out a content strategy, or what kinds of things you want to post. We recommend coming up with a 30-day content calendar of posts for each month. This way you can plan what will be going out and schedule it in advance. You can always post real-time posts as they happen in addition to your scheduled posts.
Posting is only about one percent of what you do on social media, though. The other 99 percent is engaging with your audience. Share other people's content, answer questions, respond to people, and participate in the community. In the end, your goal is to drive traffic back to your website.
Being a relationship marketer means being a magnet rather than being a bullhorn. By embracing your customer’s humanness, and focusing on serving them rather than selling to them, you attract better leads who are more likely to become repeat customers. These people will become loyal followers of your brand, telling others about your services and goods. This is all because you valued their relationship with you more than their money. People recognize and value when businesses genuinely care about their customers. That’s the heart of relationship marketing.