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For business leaders, the shift from traditional brand direct advertising and marketing to understanding who, why, when, where and how your brand can engage a customer is huge. Today’s jargon is all about building customer relationships, from the first interaction with a brand, to sales, to earning an ambassador for your brand. I know from experience that many CEOs and brand managers are not taking advantage of this new landscape. Here are some practical tips to keep in mind:
Make sure the relationship isn’t one-sided
I once spoke to a group of entrepreneurs and a photographer expressed her frustration at not being able to grow her business. She showed me her website, a very nice portfolio of her work. She did some social media interaction and she was known in a local area of affluent people who regularly used professional photographers.
The photographer’s problem was that her relationship with her audience was one-sided. She showed everyone how good she was at her job. Well, that’s nice, but I told her that nobody cares how good you are at taking pictures – it’s assumed you know how to do your job. They need to understand who you are, what you do, and trust that you will take care of them. Clients also want to know what you offer that is unique from all the other photographers out there.
Related: The 7 Stages of Customer Relationship Management
Know your customers to solve their problems
Part of the photographer’s problem was that she didn’t know her clients. In general, my advice is: don’t do target marketing until you’ve gone through the process of knowing who your customer is. If you don’t already do this, look up “customer profile sheets” on Google and use a template with a photo of who this person is. You can have as many customer profiles as you want, but it’s best to target the most precise audience.
To do this, you need to know a lot about them, including their ‘pain points’, the problems they have. Think about what you would like if you were your customer. Would price be an issue? Place? Save time? Get some help? Do some social listening to see what people are complaining about, or check Google Trends to see which searches are popular.
Once you have the issues, you can figure out how your company or brand offers the best solutions. Your services must rise above the competition when it comes to helping your target customers. Knowing who these people are and what they need is critical to your success.
Related: How to Build Long-Term Customer Relationships
Use marketing etiquette
Now that you know who to reach and what problems to solve, you can start implementing a marketing plan. Email marketing is considered one of the most successful for lead generation and customer nurturing. However, just like life in general, use this strategy with proper marketing etiquette and a plan that won’t annoy your leads.
A customer should never feel rushed by a salesperson. Constantly pinging people through email when you don’t get a response can annoy your leads. “Pitch once and follow up twice” is a good rule to follow for sales messages. Another option is to offer useful content like a newsletter to engage a user. However, an email address you receive through any platform, including your website, is not an open invitation to spammers. A clear “unsubscribe” option should be offered.
In addition, tactics that use language that sounds desperate or confrontational, such as “Are you ever going to respond?” or “I’ve contacted you repeatedly and I’d appreciate a response” are never a good idea. Subject lines that start with “You’re not doing X right, we can help” aren’t very well received either. Sure, you can create a sense of urgency, but if you can’t quite live up to your statement, you’ll lose someone before you’ve even started.
The overarching premise here is that brands should listen and understand what customers need. When there were only a few banks, supermarkets, clothing manufacturers, etc., it worked to tell people what you offer. The shiny penny can stand out on billboards, in store windows, on television and more. I don’t need to tell you that there are so many options – customers will do their research and they will demand more. When your company knows what “more” is, you can focus your energy on delivering it.
Related: 5 Ways to Build Great Customer Relationships