“A great relationship doesn’t happen because of the love you had in the beginning, but how well you continue building love until the end.” – Unknown
Think about the last time you met someone interesting for the first time. They looked good. You looked good. There was a frisson of potential. The whiff of a spark. You got to talking… only to find yourself in a one-sided conversation as they proceeded to talk about themselves. Non-stop and loudly. Their accomplishments, their strengths, their experiences. You may have been charmed into seduction. Equally, you may have looked around for the nearest exit and politely extricated yourself at the earliest available opportunity.
In marketing, too often we are bombarded with these type of messages: We are the best! We’re the most trusted! We’ve been around the longest! We’re the highest quality! We’re the lowest price guaranteed! We we we. Me me me.
Too often businesses focus on attracting new customers, but attempt to do this by broadcasting what they want to say, not what their customers are interested in.
And too often, businesses focus on attracting new customers without careful enough consideration about how best to keep those customers once they have them.
This ends badly either way. Either your customers don’t fall for your spiel in the first place (they don’t want to be “we-ed” on) so your efforts are in vain. Or the moment is fleeting and transactional, and you lose any opportunity to potentially build a meaningful and productive relationship.
The thing is, after you’ve made the effort and investment in finding new customers, caring for and nurturing those relationships is what grows the value of your business and creates long term sustainable results.
Customers want a relationship with you
We’re now in an age of choice, where customer expectations have shifted dramatically thanks to the rise of Amazon and Netflix and the standards of user experience and personalisation they’ve been able to deliver. It would be easy to believe that customer loyalty is a thing of the past, and casual customer flings are all we can expect. Indeed, in an interview with Fast Company last year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said “Our customers are loyal to us right up until the second somebody offers them a better service”. Similarly, Google published a 2015 study on mobile strategy that found that “people are more loyal to their need in the moment than to any particular brand.”
However, while customer expectations are high and manifest in different ways, they do want a relationship. Google points to these “micro-moments” precisely because they deem it the new battle ground for brands to compete for and win customer loyalty. Furthermore, according to Gartner, “members of the next generation of customers flock to businesses that treat them as if they were special, rather than as ‘just another number.’ Customers want to have a connection, a relationship, with the organisations they deal with.”
The market is noisy, aggressive and competitive but you can still effectively cut through this by showing your customers that they matter most to you. That you care more. That their needs are at the heart of your organisation.
Find your perfect match
Common ingredients for a successful relationship are typically identified as honesty, compatibility, communication, common goals, shared values, clarity of expectation. It is far easier to show your customers how much you care when you have identified who it is you might want to be in a relationship with.
You know your purpose and the ambitions for your business. You now need to match your dating profile. The more tightly you can define your customers and why, the m
ore chance you have to successfully persuade them to your cause. Best selling author, speaker and marketing expert Seth Godin advises looking for seekers (who are looking for you) – “You might be in love with the change you are trying to make in the world. Best to begin with an audience that’s rooting for you to succeed.”
Practise the art of wooing
Once you’ve worked out who your ideal and likely customers are, it’s time to woo them. Our natural instinct is to look outwards, focusing on the messages we wish to get across. To succeed in customer courtship, however, it’s imperative that we invest time and effort into understanding them, what’s going on in their world, what’s important to them. To hold up a looking glass and try to see ourselves as they see us.
It’s actually easier to take a “scattergun” approach, kind of like trying your luck with anyone who happens to be walking by. The chances of success are slim, it just feels good to be strutting your stuff and getting your message “out there”.
Truly putting your customers at the heart of everything you do requires you to believe that focusing on your perfect partner is worth it. That the outcome will be far more beneficial and satisfying (to you both). That tailoring your message to what they find valuable is actually where your true value lies and what will set you on a path towards “happily ever after”. You might, for example, do this by asking questions, personalizing your communication, seeking feedback, offering great customer service or acknowledging milestones or special events.
Great relationships produce great results
Nurturing your customer relationships not only stops them from leaving you in favour of a competitive paramour but can turn them into the most passionate advocates of your business long after any first flush of delight has waned. The rewards of a committed relationship include:
- Happy customers who come back for more
- Word of mouth that helps attract new customers, more of whom are your “perfect match”
- A platform for innovation and growth that’s underpinned by knowledge and insights
- The satisfaction of seeing your organisation’s purpose and values translate into real-world success
Are you in a committed relationship with your customers?
If you’re tired of playing the field and need help connecting with more of your ideal customers we might be a good fit. Please get in touch for an obligation-free “first date” so we can get to know each other. Who knows, it might be the start of something beautiful…Tags: customers, marketing, relationship marketing