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How to Focus Your Marketing on Relationship Building

The most effective marketing focuses on building relationships with the target customer. The opposite of “one and done,” relationship marketing connects your brand with people for ongoing interaction.

How do you build your brand relationships? There’s a lot more that goes into building connections than simply clicking like on social posts or passing our business cards at networking events.

Here are tips that will help you strategically develop relationships and build your brand community.

Identify the Right Relationships 

What kinds of people would you benefit from knowing and would benefit from knowing you? Know the types of relationships you want to build.

There may be more than one community that will support your brand – one that helps you find new business, one that nurtures existing customers, one that provides resources for growth. Know the types of people who will help you achieve your business goals over time.

Then, understand the characteristics of the people that fit these communities or networks that you want to build. Be as specific as possible, so you can be focused on who you need to engage with to build the right communities.

Discover the Best Ways to Connect

What are the most effective ways for you to connect? Social media is a common option, but know which channels are best to reach the people you want. Each channel has its own demographic and intent, so you need to find the ones that are most appropriate for you.

There are many sources of user data. One of my go-tos is Pew Internet. The have data tracking use and social media trends that is marketing gold for any brand.

There are likely other places where you can make the right connections. In-person events that are for networking, professional development or industry development can all provide great venues. Strategically attending or presenting webinars can be another.

Discover where the people you want to reach gather. Those venues should go to the top of your relationship-building list.

Prepare for a Relationship

Healthy relationships are two-way, and your brand relationships need to be the same. Think as much about what you want to say as what your community may need or want. Plan for both give and get with your community.

As you meet individuals you want to get to know better, have a sense of what each of you brings to the table. Everyone has different needs, desires and abilities. Knowing what these are for you and your connections and acting on those insights builds productive reciprocal relationships.

Be generous with your time, energy and willingness to help. Check in periodically. Celebrate their successes. Ask them about things you know are important to them. Express gratitude when they do you a favor, and follow through if you offer to do one for them.

Whatever you do, don’t be the person who only reaches out when they need something.

Relationship Marketing Is Good Business, but Don’t Take it Personally

I’m all about relationship marketing, helping clients to establish effective connections with clients for long-term success. However, I just had an experience that leads me to an important clarification. It’s not necessarily a personal relationship.

Let me explain.

Relationship Marketing Mis-Applied

Comcast recently added service to my neighborhood. Yay! The TV part isn’t exciting, but the 1GB internet speed certainly is. I couldn’t sign up fast enough.

Once the service was installed, my next task was to cancel my Verizon internet and DirecTV services. Verizon was easy. I called and within 5 minutes my account was adjusted.

Then I called DirecTV…

First I dealt with the automated service that, ultimately, needed to pass me on to a person. No problem. When Yolanda came on the phone, she was bright and bubbly. Ok. I told her I wanted to cancel my service.

Yolanda was not happy.

She asked me to clarify. She had me verify my service address at least three times. Thank goodness I know my PIN. After verifying all my details down to my mother’s maiden name, she was silent. Then she put me on hold.

When she came back on the line, she actually asked me “why are you abandoning us?” Really? This wasn’t a personal relationship breakup, it was the end of a contractual relationship. Trying to turn on the interpersonal guilt was silly and not appropriate.

About 15 minutes later, I think I have broken up with AT&T/DirecTV.

Healthy Relationship Marketing for Business

Your business marketing should have a relationship focus. You need to demonstrate to customers that you care about them as much as you want them to care about you. But don’t make the mistake in thinking that these relationships are personal. They are not.

As long as customers need your service they will use you. A good relationship will keep them coming back. At some point they won’t need you anymore. Don’t take it personally, it’s just business.

Customer Service on Social Media

According to a J.D. Power survey in 2013, 67 percent of consumers have used a company’s social media site for service. That expectation has only increased. Having a social customer support strategy is a must.

Is your social media team well-versed on customer service?

Many companies have a social media team that handles postings. Is that team trained for the customer service role?

Your brand’s response or lack of response to inquiries via social media are public. Others are watching. So an effective or ineffective response impacts well beyond one customer.

Have a customer service strategy

There’s no room for error. Customer service needs to be part of your social media strategy.

Decide who will handle customer service issues. That person or team then needs to be armed with the information to provide timely and accurate support. The more information and resources they have, the better service they can provide.

Once you have the team and insights in place, it’s time to create customer service guidelines. Address:

  • Standards for response time
  • Standard responses (create consistency)
  • When issues should be escalated to a higher level
  • Identifying constructive opportunities versus chronic complaints

Automate with care

It can be challenging to stay on top of social media support. The temptation to use automated tools is real. However, proceed with care. Replacing the genuine response people expect with automation can damage your brand.

Tools can help you to:

  • Provide immediate responses that set expectations for response time
  • Scan for brand mentions
  • Schedule timely information to proactively address customer concerns

Learn from your customers

Do more than respond. Get insight from customer inquiries. Are there common points of confusion that can be addressed in your social strategy? Does there seem to be a problem with a product or service?

Track inquiries and take steps to address any patterns or themes that emerge.  Understanding where customer dissatisfaction comes from enables you to improve .