Relationship Marketing is ALIVE!

Posted: May 23, 2009 in marketing, wine
Tags: , ,

New online mediums have arisen and for many businesses, it all appears to be a bit overwhelming.

No-one wants to admit at a party that they don’t have a Facebook page. Marketers and business owners are under pressure to embrace WEB2.0 and social networking media to market their products.

All well and good.

But if you haven’t got a clear strategy that deals with basic DELIVERY of your flash, new promises, then take a good hard look at your precious marketing dollars disappearing into cyber-space.

The basics of marketing haven’t changed, we simply have more methods to communicate to our customers, and our potential customers.

What hasn’t changed, and in fact is more important than ever, is the need to use all methods at our disposal to FORM LASTING AND RETURN-ON-INVESTMENT RELATIONSHIPS.

I see plenty of slick websites around, but with little or no substance contained. One example had stunning images of the region, but absolutely no contact information for a punter wishing to speak to a real person. Another website, expounding the company’s commitment to service delivery resulted in the phone simply ringing out.

Old web and new web are simply mediums, allowing faster communication and potential to turn strangers into customers.

Basics have not changed with advent of new web/web2.0, and the plethora of social networking opportunities such as Twitter, YouTube, blogs, RSS feeds and the many others that will pop up over coming months, are a blessing and a curse for marketers and customers alike.

These are communications TOOLS, not the REASON for the communications. Just because you CAN blog, doesn’t mean you should (maybe its me, but I find an increasing number of bloggers to be the sort of people I try hard to avoid at parties)

So I definitely don’t want to have them in my in-box.

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Let’s get practical with some TIPS:

  • Review your existing customer base and your desired customer base. If you don’t know, find out. If you don’t know who you are talking to, your message won’t resonate.
  • Make a strategic decision on how to best communication with them. If your customer base is in their 20s/30s Facebook, Twitter etc are worthy considerations. However, select your communications medium based on the REAL behaviours of your customer group, not a ‘one size fits all’ approach or by over-labelling. Don’t leap into a Facebook frenzy, just because everyone else has one.
  • Tailor your communications to suit your customer needs. Make options a choice for the customer. Remember you are communicating for THEIR benefit, not yours.
  • It doesn’t matter how fancy the envelope if it doesn’t contain anything the customer wants to know. Just because you can access additional formats of online communication doesn’t mean you have an open invitation to spam your clients with ‘stuff’. The Monday morning inbox is daunting enough without having to wade through a lot of waffle mail. You don’t like it, so don’t do it to others. Tell them something they WANT TO KNOW and make a strategic decision on content, frequency, style etc.
  • Each contact is a new relationship, and needs to be treated as such. The word here is commitment. How many of you are guilty of not updating your website or rushing to slap together the Newsletter at the last minute and without real care? If you can’t commit to it, and resource it, don’t do it.
  • Follow up – don’t waste your money on a you-beaut email campaign if you haven’t got your front line customer service sorted out. Delivery of service/experience is still the end goal. The flashest website won’t mean much if the staff member answering the resulting call from a potential customer is uninformed, uninterested or worse, the phone-call is unanswered.
  • Online media is labour intensive – it is after all, about forging and maintaining relationships. A number of ‘trend hunters’ are predicting the rise of the Community Relations Manager – someone who is responsible for maintaining the relationships your online efforts have delivered. Make sure you are resourced to maintain your relationships. Repeat customers are worth their weight in gold, and the word of mouth affidavits they give your business. It is easier lose a customer than make or retain one. Think technology can replace good staff? Think again.
  • Does the communication fit your brand? A good web based strategy will ensure that your brand is consistently represented, regardless of medium. Don’t deviate from language, story, tone or style.
  • Be personal. You’ve made it into a customer’s in-box because something they have seen, experienced or been attracted to has opened up that opportunity. Make your communications personable, honest and professional. Web based communication should be no less rigorously edited and reviewed for style, punctuation, grammar and content than traditional communications.

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The common thread here is less about the technology and more about the relationships it can generate.

Online media, web2.0 and social networking technology offer a range of new avenues to capture, engage and communicate with customers.

To get value from these tools, make sure your approach is strategic, you have something worthwhile to say, and your follow-though and delivery to customers is sound.

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