Effective marketing is all about building strong customer relationships, the kind of relationships that produce profitable sales year after year. In fact, most of your marketing efforts are tied in one way or another to relationship building. If you are relying on the strength of your product or service alone without giving thought to your customer relationships, you will have only limited success.
Why are relationships so crucial in business? Let’s get inside your customer’s head and take a look at the top three reasons why relationships should be the focus of your marketing efforts.
Customers are Built on Trust
Trust is a factor in every consumer purchase. Think about your own personal buying decisions. When you purchase a product, whether online or in a store, you need a reasonable assurance that it will keep its performance promises and live up to its advertising and reputation. The more expensive the product, the more trust you require in the quality of the product and the reputation of the company that sells it.
Trust is an even greater part of B2B buying decisions. Corporate decision makers are risking operational performance as well as professional reputation every time they generate a purchase order or enter into a contract. The risk is greater. It takes more trust to overcome that risk and move forward.
Your sales team can probably tell you stories of times when a strong relationship made the difference in a sale. Your product wasn’t the least expensive or the best fit for the customer’s needs. The customer went with your company, however, because they know, like and trust your organization to deliver on its promises. That’s the power of relationship.
Risk, Relationship and Referral
One of the most powerful marketing advantages is the word of mouth referral. Referrals generate the type of warm, positive leads your company thrives on. These leads come to you with most of the selling work already done, based on the referral.
Word of mouth referrals involve more risk, arguably, than purchase decisions. A decision maker may take a chance and issue a purchase order to a company they are not completely familiar with. They may justify increased risks with other factors like price or service level. A purchase is one thing, a referral is another.
When a colleague asks you for a referral, you want to give them the best recommendation possible. Your professional reputation and even personal friendship is on the line. Like most of us, you won’t refer a friend or colleague to a business without a strong relationship. On the other hand, you will enthusiastically refer people to a business that partners with you and exceeds your expectations. The strength and frequency of referrals is determined by the strength and quality of the relationship.
Loyalty for the Long Haul
Does your organization have a perfect track record? You’ve always delivered on time. You’ve never made an error. Your product has never failed, arrived damaged, or been difficult to install. Your customer service team is always polite and your invoices are always 100% accurate. If you are nodding confidently you’ve either just gone into business or you’re in denial. Failure is inevitable.
Customer relationships make the difference in a difficult situation. They provide the loyalty and goodwill you need to work through issues and solve problems, especially when your company is at fault. Strong relationships keep emotions in check and keep customers coming back even after a crisis.
Your marketing efforts must attract new customers and generate interest in your company. This is only the beginning, however. Effective marketing builds relationships before the first sale and then maintains and strengthens customer relationships over time. Make sure your marketing takes a balanced approach and builds trust and loyalty over time.