I want to introduce you to Tim.
Tim taught me more about relationship marketing than any book I’ve ever read.
Tim was my Father’s insurance salesman when I was a young lad.
A really nice guy, never in a rush, and always welcomed at our house.
What Is Relationship Marketing?
People like to buy from people.
Relationship Marketing is about helping people get to know, like and trust you enough to become customers.
This method has many benefits including:
- long term customer retention
- multiple opportunities to convert prospects into customers
- increased chance of customer referrals
Use Your Small Business Advantage
When was the last time you called a call centre and the person knew you, asked how your family were and bantered with you about a shared interest in sport or music?
Large companies struggle with relationship marketing.
Small Businesses can use it to gain an advantage in the marketplace.
Here are five steps to get you started.
Step #1: Get To Know Your Customers
Tim knew my Father well.
His visits to our home were always welcome. My Father enjoyed their conversations about sport and work over a cup of tea.
To succeed with relationship marketing you need to really get to know your customers. You need to know:
- what they like
- what they don’t like
- your common interests
- what keeps them up at night
But be natural.
Record the information in your notes or your CRM software if you can’t remember it all but don’t treat getting to know your customers as a marketing exercise – it’s not a fact find.
Getting to know your customers needs to be something that you enjoy doing – it mustn’t be a chore.
It’s a fun way of doing business, not a business process.
Step #2: Keep In Regular Contact
Tim visited our house as regularly as clockwork.
It’s not as easy when customers are not local but you can use the telephone, Skype, email and social media to keep in regular contact with your customers.
Make sure that your customers never go too long without hearing from you and always know how to get hold of you.
If you don’t stay in regular contact you give someone else an opportunity to steal your customers!
Step #3: Share Knowledge
Tim didn’t just chat with my Father about sport and work – he also shared knowledge.
He told him about developments in products, how his policy was doing and gave him advice.
The best way to build a relationship with a customer is to share knowledge.
I doubt that your most fond relationships are with people who only ever ask you for things?
If you always try to sell to a customer they will get bored of hearing from you.
However, everyone has time for relevant knowledge that will make their life or business better.
Share as much of your knowledge as possible, show yourself as a real expert in your field.
Step #4: Build Trust
Tim advised my Father on life insurance – a serious product.
It took trust for my Father to act on his advice and buy his products, trust that took time to build.
Sharing relevant, useful knowledge builds trust.
Make sure you do what you say you’ll do and keep the promises you make to your customers to keep that trust.
Trust is the same in customer relationships as in any relationship, it can take years to build but can be lost in seconds.
Step #5: Make Relevant Offers
Being friendly and likeable is great, but sooner or later you have to sell.
Else you’ll never pay your bills.
Tim wasn’t a salesman. I would guess he probably didn’t like selling at all.
But from time to time he would give my Father advice about other products and services and because of the trust that they had established my Father would buy these services, without Tim even having to try hard to sell.
Once you’ve established trust, use the knowledge of your customers to introduce products and services that will help them.
Relationship Marketing Is Here To Stay
One thing is for sure.
The more people experience large businesses becoming more impersonal – the greater the advantage for small businesses.
Are you already seeing the benefit from relationship marketing? Please let me hear about your experiences in the comments below.