Good marketing is like good wine...
Age and Wine are on my mind this week, with my birthday coming up! And, like a good wine, relationships get better with age. This is true for customer relationships as well as our personal ones.
Good marketing is about developing relationships, and these take time. You want people to know, like and trust your brand so they not only buy from you, they tell everyone else how good you are too! Your focus is on developing loyal customers who are in it for the long-haul and also act as brand advocates.
Much like any other relationship, you need to focus on different things at different times. So at the beginning of the relationship you need to help your audience get to know more about you – the salient word is ‘know’ at this stage. Don’t come on too strong or they will likely run a mile so keep things light hearted.
Once they get to know you, how can you make sure they’re getting to like you too? Think about it much like dating when you start dating someone, you need to understand a little bit about what they’re interested in and if that suits you. Your relationship with your clients is no different, so make sure you bring you personality out in your marketing, whether that is on you website, through content or in the ads themselves.
And then they will start to trust you which is where you want them to be. Again if we liken it to a personal relationship, they need an understanding of what you believe in, something that creates a connection. This may be your values or your products or services but it is the communications and content you put out that needs to resonate with them.
The ultimate result is a base of customers who are loyal and will help bring new customers on board because they believe in you.
The long game
Of course this doesn’t happen immediately and you need to spend time developing these relationships and establishing these connections. The Harvard Business Review did a study which found that customers who are fully connected were 52% more valuable than highly satisfied customers!
This is why it is better to have excellent customer relationships rather than simply satisfied customers. Whether you like Amazon or not, they built their business by focusing on ‘customer delight’. Loyal customers are likely to spend more money each time and/or shop more frequently than your other customers so are worth working for. Of course there are ways of encouraging this, such as loyalty programmes, but you need to employ a variety of techniques to keep them coming back.
The stages of Relationship Marketing
There are 4 primary stages to relationship marketing each one a continuation from the last and as you move through the stages you will find you are able to develop long term good quality customer relationships that provided solid foundation for growth
The first stage is about attracting your customers, so you marketing here is focused on raising awareness and generating interest through mediums such as advertising, social media, email marketing and content that generates interest and curiousty in potential customers. Think value add here.
Following on from this you need to convert customers by ensuring that your offering is meeting their needs which will either be solving a problem or enhancing their lives. In order to get people to this stage they need to have a certain amount of trust in your organisation and this is developed through personal connections, as well as social proof and incentives.
Customer retention is about delivering value after the sale and I know a lot of marketers are only focused on getting to the sale point, but in reality good relationship marketing does not stop at the sale. In fact most customers say customer service and what happened afterwards was key to them becoming a regular customer and spending more money.
Finally, customer delight is about continuing to deliver value and deepen that relationship. This is where things like loyalty schemes come into play. There is also an element of recommending complementary products. I was speaking to someone recently who said that product recommednations feels a bit too salesy and she shys away from it, but it is also worth considering the value that those other products can offer. So before you hesitate, consider that if you are actually giving good advice your customers will thank you for it in the long run.
And the pièce de résistance is developing those brand advocates, people who are sharing their experiences and essentially doing your marketing for you by bringing other customers. This involves asking people for their feedback to improve your services and getting happpy customers to provide reviews and referrals.
So as you think about your marketing try not to focus on the short term, but instead think about it as a long term relationship which will enhance your brand not just in the near future but the long term too. And remember that a good wine can take years to truly reach its potential!
And if you’d like to know more about how to develop long term customer relations – drop me a line to 07956 634 330 or email me.