Competition in business is fierce under the best of circumstances. There are only so many differences you can highlight within the same industry, but you have to try to stand out from other brands like yours. The key to differentiating what you offer is building relationships with your customers. Relationship marketing is the crucial element driving successful businesses to greatness.
Examples of relationship marketing include thanking a customer on social media for buying your product or sending a top client a gift card or fruit basket. It's an opportunity to make a typical interaction with your audience more profound and personal. Send out letters, pick up the telephone and engage on social media with your buyers.
Relationship marketing encourages long-term interactions between you and your customers. You'll create a loyal base of fans determined to help you succeed. Here are some things you can do to ramp up your relationship marketing efforts, plus how they'll help you succeed above almost any other marketing method:
1. Improve Brand Loyalty
Relationship marketing reaches people on an emotional level. You'll tap into what buyers want and what problems they need solved. In doing so, your company will be the first that comes to mind when they need a solution to a pain point.
Have you ever done business with a brand that didn't seem to care? You called with a problem, and they brushed you off or didn't get back to you. You probably aren't very likely to do business with them again. You want to create the opposite effect for your customers. Show them you care about them as individuals. Reach out when they have a problem. Find solid solutions. With a little effort, you'll be their go-to quick fix.
2. Gain Preferred Status
Your business success hinges on more than just your relationship with customers. You need strong bonds with vendors so you can get preferred status. You're competing with some of the biggest retailers globally, so becoming closer to suppliers gets their attention on you. This method is especially helpful with suppliers that may not have time to seek out new partners.
One example would be taking your vendors out for a meal and letting them know you appreciate the work they do all year to ensure your products arrive on time. Ask them to let you know about new products your customers might be interested in or any changes in the supply chain.
3. Get Word-of-Mouth Referrals
When people love your business and what you do, they'll tell others. Word-of-mouth referrals are a powerful tool. People tend to trust the recommendations of friends and family over any advertising they see. Once you've built a relationship with your users, ask them to tell others about what you do.
You can even offer incentives for referrals. Start a program where both the person referring and the new contact get a reward for buying from your company.
4. Retain Current Customers
Customer relationship management (CRM) is one of the most essential parts of keeping the clients you have. You can't grow your business if you don't add new buyers while keeping the old ones. Many factors play into the experience your audience has, and you control most of them.
Spend time reaching out to those who purchased from you. Survey them to see if they're happy with the process and product. Ask how you can improve and strive to do so. Send a birthday card each year and offer special discounts for those who order frequently.
5. Understand Users' Needs
The better you know your customers, the easier it is to meet their needs. Look closely at demographic data about who your customers are and where they live and work. To build deeper relationships, you need to dig into the core of their identities. Host panels and find out what they need. Ask their opinions on new products.
When a customer complains about something, don't just solve the problem for the one person and move on. Look at the problem from the perspective of all your customers. Reach out and tell them what the solution is.
One example of this is an ultraviolet (UV) light wand company. Their customers often don't realize to turn on the new item by holding the power button for three seconds. They email new customers and let them know the trick for turning on their gadget. They also have a video on their website and include details on their social media posts. Answering the question before it pops up avoids some of the aggravation and complaints customers might have over the purchase.
6. Create a Unique Presence
There are 31.7 million small businesses in the United States alone. While not all are competition for you, nearly every industry is highly competitive. If you want to stand out and grab user attention, you must create a unique presence.
The best way to reach customers is by communicating with them. Show them who you are and what's unique about your company. Let your personality shine through. Talk to them as you would a close friend you've known for years. Be open, honest and authentic, so consumers respond to your efforts.
Social media and smartphones have changed the way companies market. Without an effort to relate on a human level, your promotional efforts can become impersonal and ineffective. Strive to connect with the people who've brought you to where you are. The more linked you are to your customers, the more loyal they'll be to your brand. Think of your clients as a team of warriors helping your business beat the competition.