February 10, 2017
February is a time to reflect on the relationships you’ve built with the ones you love. And for small business owners, few relationships are as treasured as those you’ve cultivated with your customers. By developing a customer relationship marketing strategy, you not only strengthen ties with existing customers, but are certain to woo new ones as word gets out about just how much you care.
If you think about it, romantic relationships and customer relationships have a lot in common. People, in general, want to be heard and feel valued. Small businesses are often perfectly positioned to meet those needs because they have their ear closer to the ground.
And while many think of marketing as only a way to acquire new customers, developing a strategy that positively reinforces your commitment to serving your existing customers, not only boosts your customer retention rate, but will stimulate your referral rate.
So here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you develop a customer relationship marketing strategy that benefits you and your customers:
1. Treat marketing like a dialogue.
Marketing works best when aimed at customer engagement. Instead of standing on a stage and talking at your customers, grab a seat at the table and talk among them. Consider your marketing an invitation for feedback and discussion. Be present and committed to listening and learning.
Your goal here is to establish trust and build a relationship. Giving customers a forum to share their ideas, comments, and even complaints, reaffirms your commit to being attentive to their needs.
2. Personalize as much as you can.
Personalized content goes beyond email merge tags. Technology has given small businesses the tools to deliver tailored content to customers and track how they engage with that content.
While innovative technologies like marketing automation have given us an unprecedented ability to drive the sales process, that hands-on experience doesn’t end after the sale.
After the sale communication not only keeps your business top of mind, but serves as an opportunity to further service customers by inviting them to join an incentive program, suggesting additional products that will complement their purchase, or simply asking about their purchase experience. And don’t neglect the little things. Personal touches like sending a handwritten thank you note or calling a customer to personally resolve an issue go a long way in building creditably and trust.
The more personal you make your marketing efforts, the deeper the emotional connections they’ll have to your business, and the more likely they are to refer you.
3. Build trust through transparency.
Consumers connect with brands they can relate to. Humanize your business by being transparent, “opening the kimono” to how you do business and why. You can do this in many ways, from whimsical to concrete, such as:
- Share a fun Snapchat or Instagram story showcasing your company culture
- Post profiles of your employees to your website or feature them in the monthly newsletter
- Publish case studies of clients your business has been able to help
- Share client testimonials
There are now more ways than ever to use digital media to give customers a behind-the-scenes snapshot of your business. Every communication with your customers should tie back to your strategy to win them over.
So, stay on message. Produce quality content. Be deliberate yet heartfelt.
Listen to the voice of the customer. Not only with generating new leads, but also to keep your current customers satisfied. By engaging in a dialogue with your customers, personalizing content, and being transparent, you can build long-term relationships that can lead to additional business down the road.