Everyday we’re inundated with thousands of advertisements, numbing us to all but the best ones out there. If what it takes to raise awareness about your brand is an ad that needs to compete with thousands of others, then the odds are stacked against us from the start.
This saturation of the advertising space has led to a new kind of marketing that is more reliable than traditional methods—relationship marketing. Relationship marketing is all about building a positive relationship with your customers, leading to sales and eventually, brand loyalty.
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A great example of this is Starbucks. More than just a reliable cup of coffee, Starbucks has defined the entire industry by focusing on creating personal relationships with its customers across the globe. They do this in many ways, such as always accommodating specific requests on your order, writing your name on the cup, allowing you to stay as long as you like, and having different loyalty programs.
How do we build a positive relationship with our customers? Through effective engagement based on these ideas.
Offer Real Value
Before you bombard your customers with how amazing your product is, you need to first offer them something of real value, such as information, solutions, or unique insights into whatever field you’re in.
This will foster a relationship of trust with your customers as they grow to respect you as an expert in your field, making them more receptive to your sales attempts.
A great example of this is Scott’s Bass Lessons. Now the most popular bass guitar resource in the world, the website built its following by first offering free educational content on Youtube. This free content placed Scott’s Bass Lessons front-of-mind when it came to bass expertise, eventually allowing them to convert their audience into customers who pay a regular subscription for full access to the site.
Show Your Human Side
Few things engage your customers more effectively than showing the human side of your brand. Doing this by publicly displaying your values and community involvement connects with your customers on a deep level that shows you’re interested in more than just the contents of their wallet.
Another way you can show that your company is more than just a corporate machine is to highlight the people and teams working behind the scenes rather than always focusing on your product or services. Google is a great example of this—even though they’re one of the biggest tech companies in the world, a lot of their marketing focuses on the human element of their business.
Foster a Community
Building a community such as a forum or social media group is a great way to connect personally with your audience. It allows you to talk directly with customers who are interested in your business by addressing concerns, stimulating conversation, rewarding loyalty, and providing updates.
Sephora’s Beauty Forum shows that you don’t always need to go out of your way to create a successful community. By providing their users with an interface to engage with other beauty enthusiasts, they’ve created a lively community that not only puts their products front-and-center but also allows them to engage their customers directly.
Personalize the Experience
Putting calling customers on hold or getting them to answer chatbots’ endless questions are surefire ways to make your customer feel unimportant. If you want to build a relationship with your customer, you need to engage them on a personal level, making them feel like part of the family.
One of the most fun examples of this is Spotify’s 2020 Year in Review. Always at the forefront of personalized experiences, Spotify outdid themselves with a year-end summary for every user, detailing interesting stats about their listening habits such as favorite songs and minutes listened. The result? Timelines being flooded with people sharing the Spotify brand and flexing their music taste for 2020.
Take Advantage of Negative Situations
Look at negative customer experiences as an opportunity to engage your customer in a way that you wouldn’t have had otherwise, allowing you to personally converse with them and address any issues.
Colourette Cosmetics raised Php 1.6M for typhoon victims after an attempted boycott of their products brought about by their CEO’s criticism of the government. What started as a boycott and potential huge loss in sales was instead converted into massive brand awareness as they went viral for their humanitarian focus.
Sincerity is key to effective engagement. Patagonia is an outdoor clothing brand concerned with environmental conservation, so much so that they encourage their customers to buy their used apparel instead of brand-new, generating huge customer support through their sincerity.
At the end of the day, growing your brand is based on building strong bonds with people. Like personal relationships, your relationships with your customers cannot grow if it’s based on insincerity, so make sure you walk the talk!