St. Valentine’s day was just a week ago and even if you’ve successfully managed to ignore the date, maybe you are still hoping to find your true love. Here are some tips for building that perfect business relationship. Instead of taking the easy way out and sending cards and buying chocolates, why don’t you take your relationship a step further? Just put your little black dress on (metaphorically speaking about your integrated marketing campaign ) and be irresistible.

What is relationship marketing?

Occasionally we approach our customers and prospects in person or over the phone, but most often we do it online. While this can be highly efficient, it might not be so effective when it comes to improving customer interactions and fostering better brand loyalty. Customer experience management now involves social media, and customers expect to have easy, tailored access through this channel too. Just like any other relationship, the marketing one is based on two-way communication between the business and its customers, present and future. It’s all about tracking customer activities and providing information tailored based upon insights gained from those activities.

How to use it?

By adding value and positioning yourself correctly against your competition using these strategies, you will transform your company and your customers. You can also try these in your personal life too.

1: Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

Talking just about yourself get’s boring very quickly. Have a dialogue with your customer. Reach out and focus on something that’s not sales and product offers. It is important to communicate frequently and on a variety of topics. Change the medium too. Whenever possible, combine email, direct mail, phone and face-to-face communication. Try to keep prospects moving through your sales cycle constantly.

2: Celebrate how special they are to you

Love needs actions, not words. The best way to show you care is by events. Company sponsored special events will rekindle that spark and will ignite interest, which will help you retain and up-sell current customers. The event can be anything from a cocktail party around the pool to a friendly game of tennis. Just make sure the venue and the activity are appropriate to your customers and business.

3: It’s in the little things

Loyalty needs to be rewarded. No matter what type of business you are running, offer rewards. What works best is graduated rewards: the more a customer spends, the more points/value they earn. This will cut down on customers who want to switch for a lower value price and get entry-level rewards. Furthermore, by giving, you are receiving your customers’ affections. Which means their friends and colleagues will be hearing about you too.

4: Keep meeting new people

No one said you are exclusive, right? So keep networking. You are in this relationship for the long run, so don’t get discouraged if a few weeks pass by and you see no results. Great relationships take time and effort. Be active and social and you will attract new people.

5: It’s always a dialogue

You need to listen. Yes, your customers are needy and they require not only your physical presence but your ability to listen as well. Use every tool and opportunity to interact, engage, and ask for feedback. You are allowed to use newsletters, surveys, message boards and comments sections on blogs. Let the voice of your customers be heard.

Use this dialogue to enhance your customer service. This is one of the easiest ways to add value to your customers and stand out from the competition. How quickly do you or your staff resolve problems? It might be crucial at the “Should I stay or should I go?” point. Quality customer service will help you get repeat business, enhance your reputation and increase sales.

6: Which is the language of love?

We’ve heard that French is the language for lovers, but we didn’t fall for that. The language of love is whatever language your customers speak. So yes, there is more than one right answer to this question. It is time to add a multilingual component to your marketing. Translate your website or use ethnic broadcast media to reach niche markets.

You want to build a long-term relationship with your customers. Antoine de Saint-Exupery famously said that “Love does not consist of gazing at one another, but in looking outward together in the same direction”. The direction and the outcome of the relationship depends both on you and your buyer. Don’t treat marketing just like a cheap trick to sell a product to an audience. Respect your customers and they will respect you. As we said, works great with relationships too. 😉

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