The relationship marketing principles presented below are based on experience building relationship marketing programs in Europe and the US. Keep them in mind as you design your next website marketing funnel.
We have a more detailed overview of how to use relationship principles as competitive insolation in this post: How To Use Your Website To Create Competitive Insulation.
What is Relationship Marketing?
Before we get into the relationship marketing principles, let’s define what relationship marketing is.
Broadly, relationship marketing is marketing that understands and is focused on the state of the relationship between the customer and the brand. It’s marketing that attempts to build the relationship, it creates relationship equity by stimulating microtransactions that deliver value that goes beyond transactional benefits. It’s based on psychology. Specifically, it’s based on attribution theory.
Attribution theory says that all things being equal, when the relationship is weak or doesn’t exist people will attribute bad behavior or a bad experience to the person or in this case the brand. When there is a relationship, then bad behavior or a bad experience is attributed to external circumstances. He’s having a bad day versus he’s a jerk.
A good example of this is the Social Media Posting strategy that says that 70% of shared content should add value beyond transactional benefits, 20% should be curated content that the audience will value and 10% should be sales-oriented content.
Relationship Marketing Principles
Dr. Stephen Epley, the founder of Epley Market Research and Consulting, told me that, based on his research, 90% of loyalty problems can be traced to the sales process. Be sure your strategy and tactics are designed to attract Heavy Category Users for the right reasons. Sell your value. Don’t coerce with a bribe.
2) The most crucial time is the beginning
Buying your product or service does not mean they have a relationship with you. Are they open to it? Perhaps. Do you have to earn it? Absolutely. Their interest in your product is high, and they are willing to listen, but don’t be deceived, their interest in the category is also high. They are listening to what the competition is saying. Acknowledge them. Let them know, through words and deeds, that you value their business. Surprise them with value beyond your product’s functional benefits.
3) In established relationships continually reinforce the decision to buy
Once you have established a connection don’t abandon your efforts. The most important purchase isn’t the first, it’s the second. Reinforce how smart they are for buying your product. Give them every reason to buy from you again. But keep the plaid jacket at home. Talk to them like you have a relationship, not like some sales guy trying to make his numbers.
4) Good customers expect to be rewarded
This isn’t to suggest that every customer gets a prize. Understand who your best customers are, the 20% of your customers who generate 80% of your revenue, and reward them. Surprise them. Delight them. Make them customers for life. Make them so happy they tell friends and associates what a pleasure it is to do business with you. The ROI on these relatively small investments, especially compared to the cost of acquiring new customers, is huge.
5) The second most crucial time is when the relationship is at risk
Again, this isn’t for every customer, but for your best customers take the time to really understand what went wrong and then do something tangible to address their concern. Don’t take the relationship for granted. Whatever went wrong used up some relationship equity. You need to earn it back.
Relationship Marketing Principles – Conclusion
An effective website is a fulcrum that’s designed to maximize value creation for users and for small businesses. Understanding relationship marketing will help you craft marketing funnels that attract and nurture heavy category users.
Get the right message to the right person at the right time.Every successful direct marketer
To help remind you, we created a handy infographic that lists the five relationship marketing principles. Subscribe to our list and we will be happy to give it to you as a PDF.
A version of this post originally appeared on Red8 Interactive’s blog.
Author: James Hipkin
James brings over 40 years of professional sales, marketing, and marketing consultation services to the table. Serving global brands along with small businesses, Hipkin leads a highly-skilled team of full-time developers, producers, content specialists, and project managers who are committed to your success.
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