Connecting with prospects and customers is key to all sales and marketing, probably since the dawn of time. Securing that connection and forming a digital relationship is no longer sci-fi but an everyday reality for marketers the world over. Every day, marketers watch as the digital relationship is developed, nurtured, and strengthened over time. Then some unknowingly do the opposite, unwittingly ignoring the importance of relationship marketing and killing off their online relationships with prospects and customers.
There’s a fine line between nurturing your online relationship with prospects and customers and doing the exact opposite. Sure, tell-tale signs can mark the difference.
Ever seen the story of the tortoise and the hare? It’s an age-old fable about a race between the two that was never actually run. The moral of the story is simple – slow and steady wins over fast but unsteady progress.
The same can be said for online relationships; it pays to take it slow and steady. If you’re not careful, you can end up killing your prospects’ and customers’ interest in you with a few blunders. When that happens, the relationship is effectively killed off and will never have a chance to blossom into something more meaningful.
Here are 11 crucial points about relationship marketing strategy which every marketer needs to know about:
1. Focus on Customer Needs
This may seem obvious, but many marketers tend to forget that they need first to receive before they can give. If you’re marketing to customers who aren’t interested in what you’re offering them.
2. Get Feedback From Your Existing Customers & Prospects
Ask them if they’re happy and satisfied with your service. Ask for their feedback, suggestions, and even complaints so you can take action on what they have to say. Through customer feedback, you’ll learn more about what’s missing in your product or service and determine just how much the prospect values your relationship.
3. Offer RELEVANT Resources & Information
Don’t send information and resources that they don’t need or that are not relevant to them. That will only come off as spammy, annoying, and a waste of their time. Instead, offer them what they won’t – make it useful for your prospects by delivering them something worthwhile. It’s more effective in strengthening the relationship with customers and prospects.
It’s not about quantity but quality when it comes to resource and information sharing. Keep in mind that there will be others who search for the same information your prospects are looking for, so do share what they’re searching for. If you don’t make use of this opportunity, someone else definitely will!
4. Honesty & Respect For Your Customers & Prospects
Be honest and trustworthy to build a solid relationship with your customers and prospects. You may be able to pull this off for a while, but eventually, the truth will come out in the end.
As sales are made, money is exchanged; as trust develops, so does respect. On your part, you should be respectful of your prospects’ and customers’ time.
For example, if you manage a Facebook page or group open to all sorts of people (i.e. not members only), don’t bombard them with sales pitches but instead engage in dialogue to find out what they’re interested in first before moving; forward… After all, it’s about building a relationship, not about dumping your product or service out there and hoping it will stick.
5. Develop Buyer Personas
One of the most effective ways to grow your business is by reaching out to people who’ve displayed a clear interest in what you’re offering. A buyer persona would reveal some crucial details about your prospects:
- Their likes.
- Hopes and dreams (concerning what you offer).
- Other characteristics that make up their personality.
You can create a buyer persona using a basic spreadsheet to track their:
- – demographics (age, location, and sex)
- other personal details (marital status as well as relationship status, children’s age, and gender)
- attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and feelings about the market you operate in (including your product or service)
- buying habits (how they decide to buy)
This list can go on, and you should take note of them as well. Using a spreadsheet is very simple, and many others successfully used this approach in relationship marketing.
6. Know Where Prospects Are in the Buyer’s Journey
It’s been said that relationship marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. And relationship marketing works one relationship at a time – you can’t expect to build relationships with all your prospects at once. Some are still exploring their options; others have narrowed it down to two or three choices, and we’ve already chosen the best fit for them.
When relationship building, you should know where your prospect is in the buyer’s journey and what they’re looking for at each stage. This will help you tailor content that would resonate with them. Of course, relationship marketing is constantly evolving. There may be a time when relationship-building involves engaging prospects at every step of their journey instead of deciding on a stage-by-stage basis.
7. Segment Your Contacts (to communicate more effectively)
People are busy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to them. The key is how do you keep your messages relevant and valuable?
If a particular prospect isn’t interested in what you’re offering, they’ll likely unsubscribe or ignore your emails for good. It’s not a waste, though – instead of letting this prospect go, you should learn from them and find out where they’re receiving their information so that you can also get there.
You can use this approach to reach out to others as well – if someone from your list unsubscribed or stopped engaging with you despite the value-adding content you’ve been sending them, it could be because they’re not receiving any information from you.
Outbound marketing: You can use list segmentation to send out messages that would specifically interest people interested in what you’re offering. For instance, if they’ve purchased certain items or shown an interest in a particular topic or industry, you can let them know about other offerings they may want to check out. They may not be ready yet, but they’re now aware of your company and its products or services.
8. Deliver Relevant Content
This is where you can use your buyer persona to deliver content tailored to what they’re interested in. If they’ve been on your list for years but haven’t shown any interest in anything you sent out, it might be time to segment them and find out where you need to reach out more effectively. Remember that if they’ve unsubscribed or ignored your messages despite the value you tried to deliver, it’s not because they’re uninterested.
Still, instead, there may be a disconnect between what you have to offer and how they want to receive it. Your content doesn’t need to be boring – use stories that relate to what you have to say and how it can benefit them. Let your prospects know that you understand them at every stage of the relationship.
Your content, however, should not be one-sided – ask questions to get feedback from your readers because they will always have something to say about you or what you’re offering. Their responses may give you an idea of where else you can reach out and gain their attention.
It’s a good idea to have a checklist of things that you’re sure your prospects would want to know about you or what you’re offering, so you won’t miss anything. This way, in everything that you deliver to them, they’ll be able to see how it benefits both parties and makes them more productive.
9. Touch Points At Regular Intervals (communicate and follow up with prospects consistently)
It would be best if you connected with prospects regularly to show that you’re still interested and check on their progress. Just because they haven’t purchased anything from you doesn’t mean it’s the end of the relationship.
You can help them get to where they need to be – if they’ve been looking for a way to organize or manage their team, you can suggest a training seminar or webinar which will help them reach their goals. You should always contact your list even if they don’t respond to your emails sometimes – check on their websites and see what they’re up to. This way, you can also provide more value and help them move forward instead of waiting for you or expecting something exceptional before acting.
It’s a good idea to let prospects know you care subtly. Let them know that you understand them and know their needs, even if they haven’t said anything. You can let them know why relationship marketing is essential for a business – it keeps your customers coming back to you because you’ve made yourself relevant in their lives.
Relationship marketing is more than just making prospects aware of what you have to offer – it’s about the importance of keeping them engaged and informed at regular intervals so you can show how your company or services are essential to them.
10. Focus On What the Customer or Prospect Needs (not what you are going to do)
It would be best if you prioritized the importance of relationship marketing over everything else. Relationship marketing is essential because it gives you a platform to share your message and get people to listen – but if it’s always about what you can do for them, they won’t be interested in staying connected with you anymore.
To make your prospects stick around, you have to focus on what they need and how you can help them get to where they want to go, not what you want your business to look like. Make sure that whatever content you share with them is relevant and will help them in some way.
If there’s one thing that your prospects want more than anything else, it’s value – which is why relationship marketing is essential. If you give them value by helping them solve their problems, then they’ll see how it’s a win-win situation for both of you.
In the content, you share with your prospects, make sure that it doesn’t sound like stuffy sales pitches or advertisements – use stories and relate to them personally to show that you care.
When it’s all about the importance of relationship marketing, it’s not just your company that benefits – your prospects’ businesses also grow because they have a platform where customers and staff can meet, learn, and be inspired.
Relationship marketing makes you essential to people in every aspect of their lives, whether business or personal. Since it’s not restricted to just one platform, you can reach more prospects using different means of communication.
11. Position Yourself As the Expert (be the authority on your topic)
It would help if you were the expert in everything you do, and when it comes to relationship marketing, people will look up to you as an authority to provide them with more value. Being an expert is about having the proper credibility. If you know what you’re doing and show that you have good intentions, people will see you as a trustworthy and reliable source of information.
You can be the expert on your field or relationship marketing – as long as you know all about it, you’re already ahead of other businesses who are still struggling in this area.
Utilize every means that you have to reach out to people, whether through social media or emails. Sometimes, prospects will come to you instead of the other way around – but it’s still your job to reach out first and create that connection.
If there are people who look up to you, then they’ll be more interested in what you have to say. Just make sure that you’re consistent with your content and messaging to keep them interested.
12. Realize that Relationship Marketing is a Lifestyle (not just an advertising campaign)
When it’s all about the importance of relationship marketing, you don’t have to consistently bombard people with who you are and what your business does – focus on the customer’s problems and pain points while giving advice and helping them solve their problems. Relationship marketing is all about nurturing relationships with your contacts as you build trust over time. Therefore it should not be treated as a one-time campaign that’s done in a hurry.
If you have a good relationship with the people on your list, they’ll keep coming back to you for more content and will tell their friends about it too. Your importance to them is invaluable because without you, they’re no longer in the know – and since relationship marketing can happen in any aspect of their lives, a good relationship with one person can make all the difference.
If you want your prospects to feel important, you have to give importance to the people on your list. It’s not about how many you’re going to reach or connect with, but rather, it’s about making that connection and establishing trust. This means that every person who trusts you is an equally important source of income and business for you.
13. Keep a Strong Focus on the Mission (what you stand for)
If you’re going to be the authority on relationship marketing, people will come to you if they need help. But when it’s all about the importance of relationship marketing, make sure that your focus is always directed towards the mission and purpose of your business.
Just because you’re good at building relationships doesn’t mean that you can be all over the place with what your business stands for. A strong focus on mission is essential if you want to survive this competitive world because people will see through your intentions, and it’ll turn them off.
If you’re good at relationship marketing, then it won’t be challenging to keep a clear focus on your business’ mission because everything should be about the customer relationship. Remember, if you’re outstanding in this area, then the wealth will follow you.
14. Give Before You Receive (and others will give back to you)
It’s a simple rule of marketing – give before you receive. Think of relationship marketing as a form of exchange – if you give more value to your prospects and they start to trust you, then it only fits that they should give back to you too.
If relationship marketing happens naturally between two people interested in each other’s business, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to make it happen on the Internet. Relationship marketing is always about giving more than you receive and building that trust over time.
It’s not just enough to reach out to prospects and endlessly contact them. Give freely of your knowledge, content, and time before you ask for anything in return – if they like you and what you have to say, then they’ll come back for more.
12. Make Sure Your Website Is As Relational As Possible
When relationship marketing is your focus, it’ll be reflected on your website as well. If you’re not sure how to create a relational website, keep the importance of relationship marketing in mind when you build your site.
Give visitors plenty of reasons to stay and visit again by posting regular updates that resonate and help grow that relationship. If they like what you have to offer, then chances are, they’ll want more…maybe they will even want to reach out, or at least continue down the buyer’s journey.
It’s also crucial that your website isn’t just about your business, and it doesn’t feel like a one-time project – people should be able to connect and feel you care. There should be relationship marketing decisions in each aspect of your site. Don’t forget to be personable when you’re online too. When relevant, use your name and picture as your website’s representation because it’ll help people get more comfortable with you.
13. Use Video to Resonate Better with Prospects
In a relationship, the importance of video marketing is enormous. It’s one of those skills that will always set you apart from your competitors and help you stay relevant over time. Video marketing is also crucial for relationship building because it helps people relate with their prospects better – after all, we’re now living in a relationship-driven society.
If you’re not sure how to use video marketing effectively, make it about the importance of relationship marketing. Post instructional videos about relationship building and watch as long as your list grows because people are always looking for new ways to connect with their prospects. What’s better than learning from somebody who is living the lifestyle you want for yourself?
Use video to your advantage, be friendly, and talk from a place of importance because it takes relationship marketing to get started. Video is still one of the most powerful tools in online marketing, so if you can use it right, then your business will flourish faster than expected.
14. Be Creative!
Finally, be creative! Relationship marketing is not just about the importance of relationship marketing – it’s also about creating your strategy, showing others why they should care, and building that trust along the way. Find new and engaging ways to show that!
Sometimes creativity can capture attention online and begin the engagement with new prospects. It also helps to convey your personality. So, if you are creative, it is vital to express that…to show who you are and let that shine through the hazy medium of digital communication.
In closing, I hope you can see the importance of relationship marketing and how much of a role it plays in the success of your marketing communication strategy.
Keep your connection genuine and happy marketing!