Businesses have realized that consumers are no longer interested in being sold to. As a result, companies have pivoted their marketing techniques into relationship-based marketing. Brands tend to get more leverage from their consumers when they have a good relationship with them, sometimes even turning them into brand ambassadors.
However, it is not always easy to develop and maintain a strong, trust-based relationship with a customer, given the transactional nature of your connection. To help organizations determine what they should and shouldn’t do to achieve success in their endeavor, 11 members of Forbes Agency Council examine several impressive forms of relationship marketing and their key takeaways.
1. A Sincere ‘Thank You’
As a consumer, I can’t believe how infrequently I hear, “thank you.” I’ve written many blog posts about the power of thanking customers — from offering simple handshakes to sending heartfelt “thank you” cards to just one customer per day. Consumers have options. If you don’t express how much you value them, they can be lured away by competitors. Make actively thanking customers part of your culture. – Scott Greggory, MadAveGroup
2. In-Person Visits
One relationship marketing tactic that will never go out of style (or stop being effective) is the old-fashioned visit. Never underestimate the power of in-person communication and some “off-work” time with your client. – Joy Gendusa, PostcardMania
3. One-On-One Offline Events Every Quarter
Relationships are built on trust. As an agency, it’s important to be this thought leader the client can trust. One-on-one meetings in person can be great for expediting trust in a relationship. We perform QBRs (quarterly business reviews) to provide overall market trends for a client. We like to deliver these in person so we can have a high-level strategic talk with business owners. – Jim Huffman, Growthhit
4. Customized Personal Moments
Creating or offering customized personal moments curated for your customers can generate meaningful memories that resonate. Examples of this can be personalized merchandise, thoughtful experiences like sporting tickets to a customer’s favorite team or even an invitation to the company’s holiday party. – Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC
5. A ‘No-Sell’ Zone
We launched “Tuesday Talks,” an ongoing one-hour series that enables our clients to call into a “no-sell” zone, to gain advice on anything they wish from two of our strategists. To make it successful, enlist your best “hosts” who can think on their feet to add value to the discussion and capture the wisdom of the crowd, while keeping it informative, yet fun and inspiring. – Camille Nicita, Gongos, Inc.
6. Freebies To Show Your Appreciation
One of the most effective ways to foster relationships through email marketing is to provide your customers with free premium content. Demonstrate both your value and your appreciation for your subscribers by regularly sending them e-books, quizzes, courses and exclusive discounts. This will help increase brand loyalty, drive up your subscription rate and ultimately generate new sales. – Adam Binder, Creative Click Media
7. Inviting Clients To An Advisory Council
Select a variety of clients to take part in an advisory council. Marketers, by nature, are collaborative. Get them together quarterly to knowledge share and discuss controversial topics. This strengthens your relationship as a leader in the conversation, but most importantly opens up the opportunity for them to continue innovating and creating great work. – Lori Paikin, NaviStone®
8. Bringing Clients Together
Our clients have more in common than we often realize — even ones that are in different industries. Bringing them together in a safe environment where they can meet in person, talk openly about business challenges and share ideas, goes a long way to deepening relationships. The chance to learn from each other is invaluable and agency owners earn greater trust for making the connections possible. – Valerie Chan, Plat4orm PR
9. A Rewards System
Credit card reward programs have fostered tremendous loyalty with their customers over the years. We try to apply similar relationship-based programs for retainer clients. We agree to a certain scope for the year, but because of our partnership, we always give them more — more production value for their budgets, more work, greater media return or savings. It’s why we’ve retained clients for years. – Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding
10. Community Involvement
Several years ago, Trek Bicycles founded a nonprofit called People for Bikes. The organization advocates for safer street conditions, funds community grants to provide bikes to kids, and even offers an app where riders can share new trails. This kind of systematic relationship marketing is brilliant because it delivers something of real value to both existing and potential customers. – Jenni Smith, EGR International
11. Social Media Engagement
When mistakes happen, many people turn to social media as an outlet for their frustration. Therefore, any company that values customer service needs to be active on social media, as well. Find those complaints, offer an apology and solve the problem. People will see that you care, and they will be more willing to work with you in the future because they know you genuinely want their business. – Jason Hall, FiveChannels Marketing