Revolutionary relationship marketing

It is a truism that loyal customers will buy more of your products more regularly and the chances are that they will probably recommend your business to others.

It’s a truism that loyal customers will buy more of your products more regularly and the chances are that they will probably recommend your business to others. So, if you want your clients to come back, it’s essential to build long-term relationships with them and with other people key to your business.

One way you can do this is through relationship marketing. This is a step beyond transactional marketing methods, which simply focused on attracting customers and closing the sale.

As the Chartered Institute of Marketing explains, this involves focusing on getting customers and keeping them in the longer term, using a combination of marketing, quality and customer service. Know as much as you can about your customers, engage in a two-way communication with them and identify those potential and existing customers that are likely to provide a long-term, profitable relationship.

Networking – and more

Every time you meet new people, you are presented with an opportunity to grow your business. But relationship marketing goes much further than networking. Not only do you need to assess who your most valuable and potential business contacts are, but you also need to develop strong and lasting connections with them. With successful techniques, you can shorten the time it takes to build trust with your customers, ensuring they come back for more.

Don’t be a busy fool
But be wary of the ‘busy fool’ syndrome. If you take on new relationships, figure out what these clients will bring to you. It may not be easy to turn down business, but avoid situations where you are overstretching yourself for limited gain.

Take potential and existing customers’ characteristics into account when you are considering whether relationship marketing can work for you. Some customers may only be looking for the cheapest product and the quickest way of getting it, and will have no interest in high levels of service or loyalty schemes, for example.

‘Avoid people using you, particularly when you are growing your business. It’s not a thrill to turn business away, but this helps you work out who your important customers are,’ believes Justin Lewis, chief executive of broker Corporate Synergy. In his line of business, he believes the fundamental building block of a successful relationship marketing strategy is trust.

‘We are in a service industry so we need to ensure our clients come first. People come to us because they want advice – they need to believe they are getting value for money,’ adds Lewis.

Always follow up
You can’t always deliver a Rolls-Royce service to all your clients, but the more you know about them, the more you can differentiate between service levels. But you also need to ensure your staff can do this too – research and persistent follow-up is crucial.

‘You need to do the follow-up and do it well. It’s amazing how many people go to networking events but do nothing about it. If you haven’t got back to people within a week, they won’t remember you. And in that time, carry out research to see if they are worth it,’ advises Nick Hood, senior partner at corporate recovery firm Begbies Traynor.

Case study: Trust is important
Mark Pinter-Krainer is founder and chief executive of AIM-listed Knowledge Technology Solutions, which develops market-data services for the financial industry.

‘Building trust is very important with relationship marketing and you need to be careful that you are not doing too much of a sales job when you are dealing with your customers. Ensure that your staff do not build up fiefdoms in the business. Information about individual accounts needs to be apparent to all of your team. People can be unwilling to share business and we’ve suffered from this in the past. We now have a robust customer relationship management system in place which logs every call from our clients,’ asserts Pinter-Krainer.

He adds that it is important to set standards and stick to them, and cites an example where an account could all too easily have been lost.

‘We were in a situation once when we paid a site visit to one of our customers. One of our staff walked the floor and got booed at. It’s amazing how a client can go from happy to mad overnight. It can be a difficult situation to recover from, but we have looked after the client as much as possible, with fortnightly checks, and he has continued to buy the product,’ adds Pinter-Krainer.

Need to know: How to make relationship marketing work for you

  • Trust between both parties is crucial
  • Communication is also vital – don’t allow issues to build up in the background
  • Set standards and stick to them
  • Find out what your customers’ expectations are and monitor them. It can be all too easy to keep providing the same service, but you must be aware of your customers’ changing needs
  • Learn to stand your ground. Don’t dilute your brand or your product with potential customers who are going to make small or one-off purchases
  • Be prepared to sacrifice the price, but never compromise the service

See also: Top digital marketing trends for 2019

Nick Britton

Lexus Ernser

Nick was the Managing Editor for when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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