I’ve spent the last few days trying to process everything I learned during the two conferences I attended last week. There was a lot of information thrown at me. But one point that came across quite clearly was, you need to build a strong customer relationship.
Let’s face it. We all hate the emails, sales letters, websites and other collateral that comes off as, “Me, me, me, buy my stuff.” We look at those and think, “Why? Why should I buy your stuff? You don’t care about me. You only care about yourself.”
But when the message shows us that whoever is marketing to us cares about us. That they’re invested in our success or solving our problem. That they’re interested in building a relationship with us, we tend to pay more attention.
That’s the beauty of building a strong, lasting customer relationship. It’s worth your while, even though it may take longer. A customer who is happy to open your emails and eager to buy your products is worth 20 people who expressed interested in your product, but never respond to anything you send after the initial contact.
Your goal, as a business owner, is to build that customer relationship with as many people as possible. And it’s easier than you might think.
Here is some excellent advice from 3 marketing experts on how to build lasting customer relationships. Their presentations stood out from more than 30 I heard during my 2 days at CONVERTED and 3 days at AWAI’s Bootcamp and Job Fair.
Some you may recognize, some you may not. But they’re all great business people and they have a lot to offer to help you up your business game plan.
All Customer Relationships are Person to Person (P to P) – Pat Flynn
I adore Pat. I had the pleasure of being his Speaker Liaison at last year’s CONVERTED conference, so I got to know him a bit. He’s a genuinely great guy who is interested in seeing everyone succeed. (Yes, I’m biased. I admit it.)
One of the things Pat talked about during his presentation at CONVERTED is, regardless of whether you’re in a business to consumer (B2C) or business to business (B2B) industry, all of your relationships are P to P or person to person.
Whatever your selling, whatever problem you’re trying to solve, there’s a human being on the other end of that transaction
It’s interesting, because before radio and television (which are broadcast, or one to many, mediums) businesses had that personalized touch. Your bank teller knew your name when you walked in to make a deposit or a withdrawal. Your grocer, butcher and baker knew your shopping preferences.
Yes, a lot of that still goes on, thanks to automation and tracking software. But it feels a lot less… personal. When was the last time someone in your neighborhood supermarket called you by name? When was the last time you walked into a shop and the shopkeeper said, “That (insert product name here) you like so much just came in. I set a couple aside for you.”
That’s the kind of customer relationships we can build now, thanks to demographics information and customer relationship management software. We can track customer’s interests, buying habits and more. (Yes, it’s a bit creepy, but stick with me here.)
We can use that information to segment our customer base and send them the specific information they want. Here’s an example from Pat Flynn.
Pat sends this great Welcome email that talks about serving his audience. (If you’ve never seen it, I recommend that you subscribe to his email list, just to see this welcome email.) He tells you straight off that he’s here to help you, and if his emails aren’t serving you, please unsubscribe. He doesn’t want you to waste his time.
Then, he segments new subscribers so he knows what to send them, using this section of his email:
He deliberately asks you which stage you’re at in your business, so he knows what kind of content to send you. He’s building a customer relationship with you where you are.
(FYI, I’m pretty sure Pat uses Leadlinks from Leadpages to segment his list quickly and easily.)
I confess that whenever I get an email from Pat, I usually open it and read it within the first 24 hours. Why? Because I know it will speak to something I’m going through right now as a business owner. Because I know Pat has experience that will help me overcome my problems.
He’s speaking to me as a person, not just an available source of revenue.
(To Pat’s credit, he doesn’t sell anything directly. His website is Smart Passive Income and it shows folks how to make a good living off of creating great content and selling other people’s products.)
He’s continuing that Person to Person, or P to P, relationship every time he sends me an email. And I love it. I’ve directed several people to his website as a resource for various issues. Just today, I sent someone the link for his podcasting guide. And I’m telling you about him in this blog post.
Pat is investing in me, so I invest in him, even if we’re only giving each other time.
That’s a strong customer relationship. I’ll be more likely to buy products that Pat recommends, especially knowing he gets an affiliate payment because I bought through him.
Your Customer Relationship Should Follow the Same Path as a Healthy Human Relationship – Ryan Deiss
I met Ryan for the first time last week at CONVERTED. (At least, we think it was the first time, because he said I looked familiar. Who knows. This is what happens when you hang around marketing conferences.) He is a delightful person and an excellent speaker. (Okay, I already knew that second part from listening to recordings of other presentations he’s given.)
What I loved about Ryan’s presentation is the way he compared a successful marketing funnel to his own relationship history and marriage. It was fun, witty and an excellent comparison.
Because when you enter a relationship with your customers, you should be in it for the long haul.
So many companies (both B2C and B2B) pursue a customer for the sale, then drop off the face of the earth, until they want to sell something again. Really? (I’m not going to mention the obvious comparison here. I’m sure you can draw that conclusion on your own.)
As soon as you begin your customer relationship, you should think of it as a courtship with a long-term goal of marriage. You want that person to think of you as a life partner. Someone they can rely on. Someone they can turn to when they need their problems solved. (That’s why your product exists, after all.)
One of the simple ways to do that is to make a good impression. We all do this at the beginning of any relationship. (The clothes on the floor and the open lid on the toilet come later.)
As a business, you give make a good impression by putting giving your prospective customer (or current customer) your best content right away. This can be a free sample of your product or trial of your service. It can also be useful content that will help your customer make a decision about your product, and build trust in your company.
On the other hand, if you treat your customers like a convenience, they’ll be looking for a new company to solve their problems. One that will treat them with the respect they deserve and give them the support they need. (Sound familiar? See, Ryan’s got it right.)
Think about the way you treat your customers. Do you give them flowers (or a coupon, or a special sale) for no reason? Do you take them out to dinner (or treat them to a free service) on a regular basis? Do you remember their birthdays every year?
All of this can be automated through your ESP or CRM. It doesn’t take a lot and it’s worth every penny you spend.
Remember, you’re maintaining a relationship with another person. How do you want to be treated as a customer? Treat your customers the same way.
Guide Your Customer Gently Toward Their Decision – Clayton Makepeace
If you haven’t heard of Clayton Makepeace, you’re missing out. Clayton is a copywriting genius. His promotion packages have sold well over $2 billion worth of products. He also works as a marketing consultant, where he’s helped four major direct marketing firms quadruple their sales.
And, like Pat and Ryan, Clayton talked about the importance of building a relationship with your customer.
Specifically, he talked about guiding the customer toward the purchase. He rattled off a bunch of great ideas during his talk at AWAI’s Bootcamp. Here are a few of them:
- Educate your prospect to help make the sale: If you give your prospect the information they need to make a decision, they’re more likely to trust you, and give you their money.
- Help your prospect overcome a barrier by meeting them halfway: A great example of this is the loyalty card that comes pre-punched in two slots, so your customer is automatically closer to getting their free (fill in the blank).This can be done for B2B as well. For instance, you can offer your prospect a bonus of a specific tool or done-for-you service that will get them one step closer to achieving success with your product.
- Get your prospect to take some sort of action to show them how easy it is to succeed when using your product: This can be as simple as writing something down or having them do a simple test with objects they have on hand. You’re nurturing that bond you’ve created.
- Congratulate your customer when they make the decision to buy: You can do this on the order form or the checkout page. Show them how their life will change now that they’ve made this decision. Then tell them exactly what will happen next, so they know what to expect.
All of these techniques can go a long way to getting your customer to trust you, and help push them toward making the purchase.
I hope my quick review of what I learned on how to build a lasting customer relationship helps you with your customer base. To make things easier, I’ve put together a Customer Relationship Cheat Sheet for you that highlights the main points from each speaker. Click on the button below to download your cheat sheet.
How do You Build Relationships with Your Customers?
Tell me what you do for your customers in the comments.