In this blog I look at how to build real, authentic relationships in your business. I show you how to get repeat business from your customers.
I show you how to breed loyalty among your audience and how to make your customers feel valued and supported.
Buying something, whether it is an item or a service, is no longer a simple case of thinking that we need that ‘thing’, handing over the money and walking away with it. With a huge increase in choice (from toothpaste, to courses, to holidays…) purchasing has now become a complicated process.
Our supermarket shelves are full of hundreds of different versions of similar products which has made our weekly shop has become a quagmire of choice.
What, and when, people purchase involves a host of factors. Factors including:
1 how that person is feeling at the time
2 how they discovered the item
3 how the item is presented and packaged.
However, possibly the most important factor in our buying decision process is the customer’s perception of the company they plan to buy from.
If someone already likes a brand and has a good experience with them before they purchase, they more likely to purchase from them. This, I think, we know.
So, it is important to build those relationships with your customers. If you see your customers each time they use your business (ie if you’re a shop or if you’re in the hospitality industry for example), building those relationships is easy.
Don’t forget though, that you’re also building relationships on line, via your social media pages. On line relationships should be treated in the same way as those in real life. It takes effort and time to build up a relationship; I cannot understate the value of building up relationships with your audience.
As Victoria Fleming (from Buzztastic Ltd) highlighted recently; the biggest sales transaction many of us perform is asking someone to marry us. Not many of us would consider marrying someone on our first date would we? So how do we expect people to buy our product or service on the first interaction?
Making that time to build strong relationships with your customers should be treated as a life long investment. Every relationship with a customer that a brand enters into should be seen as a long lasting one — not just one for that sale but one for future sales too.
So how do you create great relationships with your prospective customers — way before they’ve even considered buying from you or visiting your business?
A) Provide content your audience will want to consume
If you entertain your audience and add relevant value to their feeds, they will already feel closer to you. They will feel a ‘connection’ with your brand. Your audience will also feel that you care about them as you take the trouble to give value in a non-salesy way.
No-one wants to be sold to. People need ‘warming up’ before they commit to a purchase. Don’t interrupt the customer’s journey on their social media feeds but help enhance their journey by your entertaining content.
B) Offer free advice, tips and tricks
Again, your audience will really appreciate you if you take the time to give them advice about your product or service as well as issues surrounding it. If a company offers ‘tips and tricks’ about their product or service, the customer will really appreciate those. Each time a customer spends time watching, reading content by the company, their relationship improves. For example, a social media manager could offer tips about how to do social media. A shed company could write about the different types of wood used to build a shed. A toy manufacturer could show the different ways a child can play with a particular toy. Those company’s audiences will spend longer on the company’s pages and will place them forefront in their minds closer to buying stage. It will also place that company as a thought leader in their subject so building a level of trust which their customers need before they buy.
C) Be ‘present’ on your social media channels
Consistency is key on social media so if your brand has a constant presence, it allows the relationships to grow more quickly. By regularly popping up in the social media feeds of your audience, they will get to know you better. It’s the ‘know, like and trust’ journey of sales: we know it works and this is an ideal way to use it to great effect.
Social media should be just that: “social”. It shouldn’t just be a one way street of noise (however good that noise is!). Commenting on your audience’s posts will really deepen any relationships. How good do you feel when a brand or an influencer replies to. or comments on, one of your posts? THAT’s how to turn your potential customers into real ones!
E) Find, and join in, relevant conversations
Let’s imagine you’re at a party and you see a group of people talking about an issue or a subject in which you are interested, you’re really keen to join in the conversation so what do you do?
You could hover around the edge and hope someone will notice you and invite you in to the group but what are the chances of this happening? They’re all embroiled in their discussion and probably wouldn’t notice you, let alone take the time to interrupt the chat by engaging with you.
If you’re an introvert, this is potentially a tricky situation but one thing you may do is ask someone you know to introduce you to one person in the group. An extrovert is likely just to announce themselves and get stuck in. Both approaches (if done in a sensitive way), are acceptable.
Let’s take this example to our social media: if you see a thread you’re interested in on twitter, or some comments on a post appearing in your Facebook or Instagram feed: then join in the thread! As long as you post something of value and relevance, your comment will be welcomed in the feed and BOOM!, you’ve established your self/your brand, as an authority in that field and you’ve made some like minded contacts (potential customers?) to boot.
You can, of course, actively seek conversations to follow by doing hashtag searches and social listening but I will cover those in a different blog post.
F) Show the personality behind the brand
Customers no longer want to be treated like they’re in a production line. People want real conversations with real people. Bots have their place when it comes to certain elements of customer service, but any marketing campaign needs to have a real person at the helm to answer those questions which are not in your ‘FAQ’s, or ones that the bot cannot interpret.
Showing a brand’s personality can be done in many ways: one of these is to show a bit of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’. When people see the ‘real’ side of the company, they feel they know the company a little better. By showing your audience the ‘rougher/authentic’ side of the business it humanises your brand. You could show photos and films of ‘backstage’ staff members; the accounts department or the tech team for example. Photos of people unpacking the latest delivery for shipment or where your products come from. There are so many things you can do to present the personality behind your brand, at little cost and effort but which could hugely impact your customer’s loyalty.
So there you have 6 ways you can potentially improve the relationships between yourself and your potential and your current customers. None of these things are expensive or difficult: yes they take an investment of time but if done well, that investment could pay dividends not only in more customers but customers who come back and buy from you, or experience your product again and again.
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If you want to chat about how I can help you build meaningful relationships with your customers, please get in touch here: https://www.sarahclaysocial.com/contact/