As a creator, you know the world we live in today. It is a world where your product or service can be marketed globally. But at the same time, you may find that your competitors copy you and even offer a lower price. This is a situation you do not want to find yourself facing. Luckily, getting the lowest price is not always the only thing important to customers. They also look at the experience they have with each person or company they do business with. So, let’s outsmart the competition. How can you improve your customer relationship management? We call it “romancing your customers.”
To us, romancing a customer means adding that extra “twist” to the messaging, the product, or customer service, which distinguishes it from what it delivers functionally. The goal of customer relationship management is to create a long-lasting bond that makes clients loyal to you. Like in real life, there are stages you need to go through to generate this long-lasting “love” between you and your customers.
While the ultimate goal is to establish a lasting relationship, you first have to aim for instant attraction. Potential customers are bombarded with competitive messages the instant they express interest in your category. I’ve heard it said that if you don’t grab them in the first five seconds, you’ve lost your chance. That is a challenge! So, look to present a compelling message and offer to get their attention. See our 4 Steps to Creating an Effective Message post to help you sharpen your message.
Build a Bond
Common interests build bonds between partners. Ideas such as creating a private Facebook forum to enable dialogue, contributing a portion of your sales to a great cause that you feel your current customers would like to support too, or establishing a “VIP or Exclusive” customer program can be considered as you think about forming a tighter relationship.
Avoid the 7-Year (or 7-Day) Itch
You know this in your personal life: If you don’t nourish relationships, they are likely to fade away. The same happens of course in business relationships. And believe me, there are plenty of suitors out there waiting to grab your customers.
So how do you avoid having their hearts wander off to check out the competition? First and foremost, keep enhancing the value of what you offer and keep your sales story fresh. Nothing kills the romance more quickly than being predictable and boring.
Everyone likes surprises–the flowers, the candlelit dinner, the unexpected trip–so look to surprise your customers with rewards or courtesies that they didn’t have to register with you beforehand to get. Think about rewards in a different way. It is not something that is earned by racking up points. It’s like getting kissed after cooking 1,000 meals or taking out the trash 500 times. No!! Give out unexpected, complimentary surprises (within budget of course). Ideas such as giving out extra sample-sized packets or including a thank you note with the merchandise you send out are affordable and can yield benefits. Show that you care and that you appreciate them (without a quid pro quo).
A Real-Life Example That Happened To Us
We were eating at the diner in town and the owner of our local dry cleaners saw us and came over to the table. He said, “breakfast is on me.” Wow, we were pleasantly surprised but didn’t really understand why he offered it. A bit embarrassed, we said, “You don’t have to do that.” And he responded, “I just wanted to thank you for your business.” We do spend a lot on dry cleaning (we actually didn’t know how much!) but there is no reward program. Clearly, he keeps good records! The net of the story is that he didn’t have to do it. It was totally unexpected. But it was his way of showing his appreciation and we continued to be loyal customers.
Always Room for Making up After a Break-Up
Inevitably, in any long-term relationship, there are bound to be bumps in your customer relationship management. We don’t pay as much attention; we don’t listen as intently. Things can start to go off the rails. Certainly asking for forgiveness quickly and making up for any real or perceived gaps is critical. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, a break up happens.
But please don’t give up on your past customers. We believe that there is always a chance for reconciliation or getting back together again. We recommend re-engaging with your past accounts or customers. For example, anyone who has not bought from you in the last 12-18 months. Let them know you have a new product, service, or capabilities to offer.
In particular, if your business is primarily business-to-business, it is possible that the decision maker has changed, their budget has been adjusted, or they are not happy with the current provider. And, remember that re-activating a past client can be less expensive and easier to do than finding a new customer. So, take the initial step on your end to re-connect. For more ideas on how to have a discussion with a client, please check out our post and action planner titled Channel Sales Strategies | 4 Tips to Boost Your Sales.
Want to read more from Miriam and Lucy? Our first book, The Marketing Plan Blueprint, The 8-Step Process for Growing Innovative Ideas into Winning Businesses, is now available in print worldwide!
The Marketing Plan Refresh
A well-thought-out marketing plan will help you to win new fans, readers, and buyers.
To help you get started on your marketing planning, we are introducing our 7-Day Marketing Plan Refresh Challenge.
In this free, 7-day challenge, some of the key elements that you'll work on include the following:
- Analyzing your results from last year and the lessons you learned
- Deciding on your goals and marketing budget
- Selecting your target market and your product/service offerings
- Planning out your promotions to reach your customers and more prospects
- Creating new ways to increase the number of ways people can buy from you
Once you have signed up for the challenge, you will receive seven emails in total–one per day. Plus, you will receive a free companion 18-page workbook that we created especially for this challenge!
Miriam Vializ-Briggs is a marketing consultant with 25+ years of marketing strategy and execution experience, garnered as an executive at IBM, American Express and Kraft General Foods. She has created solutions and marketing strategies in a number of industries including banking, biotech, packaged goods, energy, healthcare, industrial, insurance, restaurants, retail, and travel & entertainment.