By Kailynn Bowling, co-founder of ChicExecs PR & Retail Strategy Firm.
When it comes to growing your business, customers are key. While you should definitely create valuable products that your customers will love, you need to take things a step further when it’s time to market your products.
There’s nothing wrong with posting on TikTok or attending trade shows, but I find that most marketing campaigns are missing an essential ingredient: relationships. If you want to build a loyal following of lifelong customers, you have to invest in relationships with your customers.
If you haven’t tried it yet, relationship marketing is a way to boost sales, overcome digital fatigue and finally get your message out to the masses. Let’s look at what relationship marketing is and how it can transform your business.
What is relationship marketing?
Relationship marketing uses a blend of offline and digital tactics to foster deeper connections between brands and consumers. It’s basically doing everything you can to invest in relationships with your customers.
Relationship marketing is more common in B2B industries where high-ticket contracts are usually on the line, but it’s relevant in the product space, too. Any business can leverage the power of relationships to boost sales.
Five Reasons Why Businesses Invest In Relationship Marketing
Relationship marketing looks in the long term, not necessarily what’s happening right now. Since you can’t build close relationships in a day, you have to nurture these leads and earn their trust over time. It might sound like hard work (and it is), but relationship marketing can give your business these five major benefits:
1. Save money.
Have you seen how much paid ads cost these days? Advertising can quickly burn through your budget; plus, customers don’t really like ads. Instead of running tons of ad campaigns, you can invest in relationship marketing to save money.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to win people over. you do need to spend time and energy investing in relationships, but even with a scrappy marketing budget, you can make relationship marketing work for you. Instead of throwing money at the problem, you spend time getting to know your customers, which will reap dividends.
2. Generate positive reviews.
If you’ve been struggling to source reviews—or you’re trying to overcome a few negative Google reviews—relationship marketing can give you a much-needed boost.
If you invest in your customers, they’ll invest in you. More often than not, tight customer relationships will boost customer satisfaction, which can increase your online reviews, too. Satisfied customers are more than happy to do you a favor by leaving a five-star review.
3. Collect valuable customer feedback.
Customers are more likely to share honest, helpful information if they believe in your business. Sometimes it can be hard to accept customer feedback, but constructive criticism will strengthen your business, so it’s smart to welcome customer feedback. Over time, customer feedback can help you better understand shopper needs and design better products—both of which will help you increase sales.
4. Retain loyal customers.
Did you know that increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits by as much as 95%? There’s nothing wrong with sourcing new customers, but if you want to keep more of those customers around, you need to invest in relationship marketing.
Relationship marketing helps you forge stronger customer relationships built on a foundation of trust. When you invest in your shoppers, they’ll invest back into your business in the form of long-term loyalty.
5. Competitor-proof your business.
If you’re locked in a vicious tug-of-war with a competitor, you need every edge you can get. Fortunately, relationship marketing can differentiate your business in a way that your competitors can’t copy.
Strategies For Leveraging Relationship Marketing
• Offer A-plus customer service. For example, the pet brand Chewy sends condolence cards and flowers when a customer’s pet passes away.
• Respond to all customer emails and social media messages.
• Proactively ask customers for feedback—and take action on that feedback.
Relationship marketing is a strategic, thoughtful way of interacting with your customers. And no, this isn’t something reserved for small businesses. Any business can do relationship marketing at scale, provided you work to have the right strategy and tools for the job.
Sure, it’s important to stand out in terms of your product features and pricing, but your competitors can copy that. They can’t copy the relationships you forge with your customers. It’s an intangible feature that people simply can’t take away from your business, and that should be your ace in the hole.