The importance of building relationships
Posted on 17th February 2021 at 16:07
“The customer is always right.” Very possibly the oldest business idiom ever coined. Although it does mark the customer’s importance to a brand, it is probably becoming more and more irrelevant.
We shouldn’t relegate the customer from their hero status for one moment. It’s just the balance of power has changed somewhat.
We are no longer bouncing around shouting over each other in crowded marketplaces or trying to wave the brightest flag to capture a prospect’s attention. Business is built more and more on the subtle art of conversation.
In the wise words of Sonny and Cher; it takes two Baby.
Your business will flourish if you spend more time building relationships.
It helps you understand your customer
Commerce and sales aren’t the main priority anymore. Ethics, values, and brand message; these are far more important to businesses today.
Because the millennials are the biggest customer base in almost every industry now, and they have spent the last twenty years trying to tell everyone how much they care about bigger issues.
You can say what you want about millennials, but they are spending a lot of money aligning their commercial activities with their political interests. Brands like Lush are a perfect of example of how the message comes before the product. A brand who spends more time demonstrating their environmental impact than they do on sales copy.
For a big brand like that though, they aren’t necessarily able to sit down with their prospects. As a small business, however, you might be afforded the benefit of sitting down and having a cup of coffee and an informal discussion.
This is how you begin to build important relationships. It’s also how you begin to understand your customer’s values and brand message.
You will work MUCH harder for the people you really care about
There is nothing more damaging to a brand than indifference. Even someone who is vehemently outraged by a company will still shout the name loud enough on social media for other people to hear. And that gives a brand the opportunity to fix a problem.
But if you don’t care about someone, then you will only put in the bare minimum effort. Someone indifferent to your brand is unlikely to become a brand advocate and this is not how you increase your visibility.
Nobody wants to highlight mediocrity.
However, think about how far you would go to help a friend or family member? Building a stronger relationship with a customer or partnership business means that you will often go above and beyond to help them. And the good thing about this is, it’s reciprocal.
Stronger relationships inspire loyalty
Getting to know a person or a business is a game changer. You are not working together based upon cold figures and statistics, but upon emotion and empathy. It doesn’t feel like a business to customer relationship. It feels like you are working with a friend.
Many people would rather spend a little bit more money on a product or service they feel comfortable with. They certainly would invest more resources in a company whose message matches their own, or they feel share the same morals or values. The term “cost-effective” doesn’t quite hold the same power as it used to.
Empathy and emotion breeds loyalty. And loyalty can often be one of the best marketing tools for your business. Loyalty means repeat business. It also means more referrals as customers become willing brand advocates.
Relationships are a two-way street
It used to be that you could never refuse a customer. It was unheard of. The old “customer is always right” ethic was dominant in industry for too long. This can compromise a business who would often devalue their service just to make a sale.
If a prospect becomes a customer and treats your business like an addition to the house staff in their stuffy manor house, they are not going to be loyal to you. It means that when the next cheapest offer comes along, they will drop your business like an armful of white-hot rocks.
Your business’ image and values are equally as important as your customers if you want longevity and loyalty. It is more than OK to say to a prospect, “I don’t think we’re the right company for you.”
It’s time to create dialogue
If you are looking for new customers, it might be time to address how you are going about it. Are you talking to people or asking questions? Or, are you writing an advert and sending it out over the internet looking for takers?
Here’s the thing:
Creating conversations will always be more effective than writing sales copy. But it also takes more work. However, all the tools are at your disposal and easy to find.
Go out networking.
Build social media campaigns that talk to your customers and ask questions.
Drop an occasional “I saw this and thought of you” style email to a customer or a lead.
Building relationships like this are much more rewarding than channeling your entire marketing efforts into writing sales copy. Work on building important relationships with people and your business will grow.
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