This past week I signed up for yet another “customer ID card” with a grocery store nearby.
I have several of these cards – all of which track my purchases and then often send me coupons for the items I buy most often. Does this make me more loyal to that store, it depends on what they are offering me. Several of the stores send me email alerts when the items I buy are on sale – creating a bond that engages me to buy.
As a small business owner what does relationship marketing mean to you? Did you realize that repeat customers spend 33% more than new customers? Does it sound like you should be communicating with your customers on a regular basis?
How do you communicate with your network of customers?
Let’s assume you are a retailer that wants to use this marketing method:
- First – you should set up an email blast – once a week if possible. It should go out at the same time/day each week for consistency. Remember to have your customers opt-in – and you may want to use a Email marketing company such as Constant Contact or iContact etc. Make sure you are in compliance with the CAN-SPAM act as well, most of the email marketing software companies make sure you are in compliance.
- Second – you should track your customers purchases – if you don’t have the computer system to do this – at least track your top 10% spenders. When there are specials or new items come in make sure they know first – sneak peeks etc. – that exclusivity of the invitation is exciting to many.
- Third – offer “thank-you” discounts near Thanksgiving and a donation for a percentage of sales for a local non-profit. A way of giving back and saying thank-you for your business. You may be able to use this to get a little free PR as well.
- Fourth – nothing sells a relationship in this techno-heavy age as much as a hand written card. Nothing fancy – just a nice card, thanking the customer for their business or a referral – anything you can think of to sit down and write a card.
- Fifth – try to learn a customer’s name – when they visit make a point to say hello to them with their name. If you can – remember things about them – “how is your daughter doing at college?” – wow – this is impressive to someone that frequents your store when you remember little tid-bits about them. I saw this in action the other day at a hair salon (Blondie and Lefty’s) a friend of mine owns – she engages the clients by talking to them about what matters to them – in this case the client’s kids. Didn’t cost her anything but a little time, but it fosters that engagement and the client is less likely to go to another salon.
Relationship marketing is not easy it takes work and there are no hard and fast rules. The goal is to create a communication with a customer that is friendly but also leads to increased sales.
Testing is part of relationship marketing. Finding what works for your style and your top 10% of clientele. Test a few emails – have a call to action – “bring in this email for 10% off your next purchase” or “bring in this email and we will donate 10% of your purchase to your favorite local charity.”
To sum up the keys to building relationship marketing are:
- Create an intimacy with your clients – to do this you must understand them – their buying habits, their demographics and why they shop with you.
- Design your marketing around your clientele – appealing to their interests and again why they shop with you!
- Develop actionable and trackable marketing. Actionable – creates the need to come in and trackable – allows for realization of ROI for your efforts.
Relationship marketing can be effective in large and small business. Put some time and effort into your next outreach to your clientele.