Let’s take relationship marketing a step further and talk about what it is and why it is important for every small business.
Relationship marketing is not a new concept but has increased in importance because of its effectiveness in attracting the attention of your target audience. The use of social media has put a spotlight on your business making it vital that you provide value to your clients while demonstrating integrity and trustworthiness. This ensures you have a loyal, happy customer base and a quality reputation.
What is Relationship Marketing?
Relationship marketing is a strategy that focuses on building brand loyalty through customer satisfaction rather than focusing on transactional sales. Implementing a relationship marketing strategy requires a plan that:
- Provides the right information to your audience at the right time
- Builds credibility, customer commitment and loyalty
- Makes prospects and customers feel comfortable and connected to you.
The goal of relationship marketing is to move the prospect through various stages of the sales process while building a rapport that becomes stronger and more valuable over time. These stages include:
Suspect > Prospect > Customer > Partner > Advocate
So how do you help people determine whether they want to do business with you?
Build Strong Relationships
As a small business, you can develop strong relationships with customers and prospects by focusing your marketing activities on:
- Establishing credibility – Position you and your business as an expert in your industry by supplying information that is useful and relevant to your audience. Content marketing is an ideal relationship marketing tactic because it educates your audience with useful information. Most content marketing is delivered through your blog, social media or email. When a suspect is researching a solution, you become the go to resource for the information that can help them decide on a solution. If you’ve answered their questions through your content, they are more likely to come to you when they have other questions. This sharing of information begins to build a relationship that is valuable to them.
- Enabling connection – Connect with your audience by offering something of value that will get them to take action. If action is taken, you now have moved a suspect to the next stage – prospect – where you can continue to develop the relationship. At this stage, you supply them with more useful and practical information for their business. As you continue to develop the relationship, some of these prospects will see the value you offer and become customers. Once they do, you continue to strengthen and nurture the relationship, but now based on trust and loyalty.
- Building loyalty and trust – Focus on the customer’s needs rather than your own in order to build loyalty, gain trust and keep your brand top of mind. Your business will be judged by the perception of how you treat your customers. By providing superior customer service and helping them succeed, you turn a customer into a partner. When you have reached this type of relationship with your customer, you can then determine if you can turn them into a brand advocate – a resource that speaks highly about your company, shares your information with their peers and works with you to promote your products and services through reviews, success stories and referrals.
Once you have turned a prospect into a customer, you must continue to add value to the relationship so that their connection to you continues to grow. It is far less expensive to cultivate your existing customer base than it is to seek new customers.
When you develop a strong and loyal relationship with your customers, they will speak highly of you and provide referrals to your business. How are you building relationships with your target audience?