Published: July 7, 2014
Money can’t buy one of the most important things you need to promote your business: relationships. When it comes down to it, strong customer relationships with people who believe in your product or service are the easiest ways to spur new business. Yet, many companies struggle with finding, nurturing, and leveraging those relationships. According to an Entrepreneur.com article, there are two options:
“You can do all the legwork yourself and spend big marketing dollars. But that’s like rolling a boulder up a hill. You want to drive your business into new territory, but every step is hard and expensive. There’s another less painful–and potentially more profitable-way… You can create an army to help you push that boulder up the hill instead. How do you do that? You develop relationships with people who don’t just understand your particular expertise, product or service, but who are excited and buzzing about what you do. You stay connected with them and give them value, and they’ll touch other people who can benefit your business.”
In our current day and age, where everyone and their grandmother are on Facebook, have 24/7 access to a mobile device, and expect certain behavior from brands online – this seems easy. In reality, gathering and creating your army of brand advocates is easier said than done. It takes a well thought out, strategic approach to gather a group that not only provides value as returning customers, but act as a mouthpiece in helping to gain new ones.
Three Simple Steps
“There’s more to business than just a transaction. Building a relationship helps you establish a bond. Some customers are even willing to pay more for a product and/or service if they have a personal connection with a company.” The following three steps are a strategic and linear process for connecting with your customers online and ensuring they turn to you as a trusted resource and with vocal praise.
- Start With a Straudiment – If a new website or new mobile app is likened to a medical prescription, a straudiment acts as the diagnosis that gets us there. When you go to the doctor and say my stomach hurts, the doctor doesn’t just throw out some medication based on your claim; first, they run tests. A straudiment has the same purpose when it comes to digital business decisions. Without that, we end up trying to solve a problem before the problem is defined. As a scalable opportunity, the straudiment can offer a short-term, high impact diagnosis or a long term study depending on the need. Starting with a business straudiment as your first step in building relationships will help you learn where your customers and advocates are, where they are talking online, how you are valuable to them, and where you are falling short; thereby informing the path for the following.
- Provide Value While Generating Leads – Once you know where your “army” is and have insight into what they need and value, become a resource to give that to them. What they need or want is not always a product, it may be content, resources, entertainment, or otherwise. Deliver what will make their jobs easier or their lives better. Stepping out to assist someone doesn’t always mean you’ll get an immediate return on your efforts. But when they, or someone they know, are looking for a product or service that you offer, you’re more likely to be foremost in their mind. The more you get to know them, the more you’ll be able to offer assistance by knowing their needs. After all, Simon Sinek says it well, “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” From a business perspective, use this as an opportunity to generate leads. Set up a landing page or a form on your website and ask people to fill out their information to download exclusive content.
- Develop Raving Fans – When you fully understand your customers, are providing value to them, the final step in maintaining good relationships falls on the shoulders of ongoing conversations. Social media, when approached correctly, is a breeding ground for developing raving fans – the kind that will bring in new business. Use social channels like Facebook to touch base frequently. “If they recently placed an order or downloaded branded content, ask them for feedback. Showing you care about their satisfaction level speaks volumes about your commitment to them. It can also provide you with an opportunity to gain insight on other products and services that you can offer to gain new business.”
Building any type of a relationship takes time, whether it’s a personal or business relationship. It’s an essential part of your business to help maintain and grow your customer base. As part of your daily to-do list, make a point to touch one customer every day. You may be surprised at the impact.