Ideally suited to small businesses, relationship marketing can be a powerful growth driver for your business. This type of marketing could almost be described as a reactionary trend against the constant up-sell hucksterism and phony, means-to-an-end friendliness that marks much of modern marketing. As a recent Engagement Factory article points out, many consumers are walking away from today’s data driven techno-marketing. They’ve had enough of that. They want to experience something real.
Real Relationships Grow
Relationship marketing can be seen as a deeper, more authentic type of social marketing. It’s all about real human connection and actual relationships. It has to do with conversations and building trust, with honesty and interaction. This type of marketing makes business personal again and brings back the sort of customer service we hear our grandparents talk about with nostalgia. No wonder they often formed brand loyalties that lasted decades. Investing in relationships in this hurried era of digital disconnectedness and pseudo-intimacy is smart business.
Emotionally connected retail customers spend about twice as much per year as compared to merely satisfied customers, according to a recent study by Motista, a company specializing in actionable consumer behavior research and services. Smaller businesses are uniquely positioned to develop the sorts of personalized relationships today’s customer craves. They’re small enough to care, as the old ad line goes. It’s a hard quality to authentically keep on a global, multinational corporate level.
Your Story Matters
Jos Caelers of the Engagement Factory says nobody cares about your marketing, but they do care about your story. NuWire points to that “human touch” as a vital part of building the sort of relationships that yield brand loyalty and referrals, noting that people want to do business with people they like. Your story is that first point of connection to the real person behind your business. Connect your story to your brand, like some of the successful micro-breweries and producers of artisan products do.
Prioritize Old-School Customer Service
Poor customer service seems to be endemic. Use relationship building as the foundation for your customer service to provide the sort of personalized service your customers will talk about. Get to know who your customers are, what’s important to them. Remember what products or services they prefer, so you can make useful, targeted suggestions in the future. Ask your customers how you can improve their experience. Go the extra mile, be a source of information and solutions. Thank them like you really mean it.
Be a good host, whether in person or online. Send handwritten holiday greetings, birthday cards and the occasional card or note of appreciation. Make a regular customer feel valued with the occasional gift or free sample. If there’s a problem, be proactive and efficient in solving it. Have conversations that aren’t about business. Ask how a child’s soccer game went or if a spouse is feeling better. Value your customers and potential customers as people.
People want to feel connected in a world that can feel increasingly disconnected. Use technology in a way that encourages connection rather than promoting distance. Build a social community, both local and online, around your business. Engage others in a friendly, helpful way while building your market reach. However, don’t let every interaction be a sales pitch or business promotion. Carve out some time to be a part of your local community, such as doing something helpful or enjoyable for seniors or children. Build real world and online relationships and watch your business grow.