Relationships Over Revenue
Relationships...they are a thing, and if you do not care about this "thing" as a marketer, good luck on acquiring returning customers. When a marketing strategist is getting to know a business owner, one of the questions they (should) ask about is, what is their customer lifetime value? In other words, how much one customer contributes to their business’s brand over time. To be honest, more often than not, the owners that I speak with scratch their head and are not really sure how to answer this. On the other hand, those who are aware of this "value" tend to be those who have a "loyal" customer base, leading me to my follow up question of: how do you create a "loyal" customer? Without fail, nearly every time they respond with, "relationships." Obviously, having a great value ladder filled with offers, deals, and promotions are involved in this answer as well.
When considering the importance of business owner/marketing consultant relationships, this same concept comes into play. There is no doubt that both business owner and marketer want one thing more than any other, increased revenue. What is great about this commonality, is that it can be used to leverage success for both parties, but first, you have to create a stong foundation for the partnership to stand on. Yes, I said it...partnership. This is absolutley elemental and a key component of relationship marketing. It is a beautiful thing when a business owner (who is an expert in their field) and a marketer (an expert in their field) connect with a common interest, growth. Why on earth some agencies use a more "hands-off" approach is beyond me. When business owners and marketers work together, magic happens.
Here is a list of five reasons WHY marketers should value their relationships over revenue:
Relationship currency has the greatest ROI. Think about it... When you put your customer's needs first and show them that your ability to meet their business goals are not only possible, but you can even show results, they will give you the greatest long term growth support tool of all...trust. This requires something very important first though...active listening. Listnen to your cutomer, ask them questions, get to know their journey, and their business goals. Before you ever ask for a penny, "put your money where your mouth is" and provide a free service to jumpstart a particular business goal they would like to achieve. Yes, this may take some patience on your part, but showing your customers what you can do for them before they do a thing for you, will turn them into a raving fan who purchases yearly season passes with front frow stadium seating to your brand. Some great free campaign ideas that are of low cost to you and very beneficial for them are: Google My Business optimization, run a review campaign, run a message marketing campaign. Doing some of these "foot in the door" services for free or low cost are well worth the upfront costs to you.
Positve relationships increase your happiness. In a study by Belanche, Casalo, and Guinaliu, it was found that the role of consumer happiness in relationship marketing is very important. In fact, they found that when there is a trust-affective commitment based on satisfaction, and trust between the marketer and business owner, there are much higher levels of happiness from both parties.
Relationship building is far less expensive than acquiring new customers. This concept does not just come from my personal experience, Bain and Co. actually did a study in which they found that even a 5% increase in customer retention can increase your profitability by up to 75%. I am not lying here, this stuff works! But really, let's think about this for a second...prospecting. Yep, there it is right there, that alone takes up how much time and energy? And what does time and energy spent take away...money. Don't get me wrong, prospecting is a neccisary evil, but once you have a client, how are you keeping them around? Are you only providing "one and done" services? If that is how you want to roll, do it, it works for some people. On the other hand if you are like me, you would rather create a solid customer base who subscribes to you, that way you can sit back and relax, knowing that you do not have to constantly be turning out new customers. Taking the time to build a strong relationship built on trust will allow you more time to focus on getting positive results for businesses, who will then keep on coming back, which means less hustle on your end to find new customers.
Relationships bring on recommendations! People are always looking for recommendations, whether it is where to get a great haircut or hot dog, and business owners are the same way. No one wants to waste time and money on products or services that have zero reputation, which is why it is so important to weave your relationships and successes into your brand right from the get go. This also includes putting yourself out there with great content (blogs, newsletters, free webinars, free ebooks, etc.). In showing up not just for the relationships you have already cultivated, but also for those yet to come, you will not only boost your brand visibility, but your reputation as well!
This last reason leads me to my final reason...enhanced brand reputation. If your number one marketing strategy is to make your customers happy, then without fail your brand's reputation will grow. Happy customers are the same people who are subscribed to the digital age, meaning that they are using social media to announce just about everything. If you have spent time building strong and lasting relationships and are therefore helping business grow and thrive, there is no doubt that they are talking about all the ways you have helped them. It is also not a crazy idea to ask your customer to give you a shout out or tag you in a positive way. If you can inspire your customers to sing your praises, you will undoubtedly reap the benefits.
Building relationships into the core foundation to your business model is vital to long-term success. While you may not see immediate return, I assure you, it is well worth it. What are you doing to cultivate authentic and success driven relationships for the business you partner with?