It’s February, “the month of love.” As we spotted the lovebirds around town, watched the influx of flower and candy commercials and celebrated Valentine’s Day, we realized it was the perfect time to blog about the similarities between marketing and relationships. If you’re looking to put the spark back into your customer-client relationships through marketing communications, first think about what makes your strongest personal relationships work so well. How you can leverage those same things in business? Here are some ideas to get your brain thinking in this direction:
1. Building a relationship takes time and effort. To develop a truly successful relationship, you have to invest time and energy, long-term. The same is true for a company’s marketing efforts: it takes more than a billboard and a couple of press releases to build a successful relationship with your consumers and clients. So how do you get it done? Develop a strategic marketing plan and revisit it each year. The plan should reach your target audience in different ways with a variety of meaningful messages. As you go through the process of executing that plan, you’ll see your customers begin to trust, appreciate and advocate for your brand.
2. Insist on open and honest communication. Honest, two-way communication is part of what makes relationships work. And now, thanks to social media, we have open access to our audiences and vice versa. So take advantage of that opportunity. On a regular basis, use your brand’s social channels to ask your audience meaningful questions, share brand messaging and industry insight and show off your personality.
But just like in a relationship, it’s important to communicate not only during the good times, but also during the bad. So if your company is in the midst of a crisis, make sure you retain that same level of openness and honesty. If you go radio silent or communicate dishonestly in any way, you’ll lose the trust and confidence of your consumers and the ability to counter the negative.
3. Listen and hear what is being said. Through open communication you can get great customer feedback. But nobody likes a company that’s all talk and no action! So make sure you use the feedback you gather to show your audience you hear them and value their opinion. Figure out how you can address their concerns and incorporate their thoughts into your business, whether it’s by developing a new product or service that will benefit them, communicating through a medium that’s more accessible to them or offering a heightened level of customer service. Social listening tools (such as Adobe Social and Radian6), surveys, comment cards, polls, etc. are all great ways to gather valuable feedback.
4. Make it mutually beneficial. If you’re giving more than you’re getting in a relationship, eventually you’re going to feel undervalued and decide it’s time to move on. The same applies to customer relationships; if you aren’t making them feel valued, they’ll eventually take their business elsewhere. Through marketing you can give something of value to your customers beyond your products and services: you can share newfound knowledge about your industry or your clients’ industries, offer relevant tips and advice to make their lives easier or simply entertain them. And in exchange, you are likely to be solidified in their mind as an industry expert–a brand they can rely on to enhance their business or their lives. A win-win!
Tell us—how else do you think marketing and love are similar?