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Relationship Marketing

April 2, 2009

How much do you know about your customers? You probably know more than you think. From your prospects database you know when you talked and their area of interest, from the accounts data their purchase history, from the web data when they visited your web site. This information is valuable as it allows you to personalise your communications in a manner that means you will help build a relationship that will help build customer loyalty.

Say you’re a car dealership in Birmingham. You know that Bob Smith has purchased two Mercedes cars from you over a five-year period and he has his cars serviced regularly. You also know that the last time he purchased from you, was 20 months ago so the chances are that he’s ready to buy again. If you’ve been effective in your relationship marketing then he’ll automatically come back to you – if not, you should seriously consider starting.

It seems pretty clear that the companies who use their data well will be the ones that prosper in the future. The more information you have on your customers, the more relevant you can make your communications and you can even make it look like a sales person is writing personally every three months with relevant and timely updates. If you’ve kept Bob up to speed with all of the Mercedes developments, any tips on his car, track days, free events etc then when you email or write to him this time to let him know you’ve sent a brochure, that there is a new model that’s superseded his last model and that you have a demonstrator he can take for a drive, he’s likely to receive it well. This is relationship marketing and it’s the way of the future.

One of the first steps is to decide the frequency of communication. Say you want to write every month then you should plan out your communications for the next 6 months which means finding 6 topics of interest – and they should also be varied. In addition to newsletters, product use information and new product or service updates, we have segmented the market and made some suggestions on specific communications you may consider making: 

High value orders 

If you have few customers placing high value orders or maybe you use partners or a distribution network, you may want to send:

  • Details of forthcoming Trade Shows or Exhibitions
  • Interesting snippets of industry news
  • Sponsorship opportunities
  • Invitations to Corporate Events – perhaps even AGMs
  • Special guest offerings such as VIP seats for sports events
  • Research news – products for the future, new developments 

Mid value orders

 If you are operating in the mid range market with an order value of say £2,000 to £15,000 then despite the fact that these customers may not be purchasing on such a regular basis, they may be inclined to look around when making their next purchase. 

Details of complementary products if you do them

  • Discounted subscription to a publication in which you often feature and in which they will be interested
  • Details of new products with special offers or upgrades
  • Incentives for recommendations 

Low value orders

Where the order value is low and the frequency of purchase high it is relatively easy to keep this type of customer if you take all the right steps, but also the one that is very easy to lose to your competitors. In this area it is easy to fall into the trap of neglecting existing customers while spending too much time and money trying to attract new customers. 

You can send:

  • Details of relevant special offers
  • Discounts for multiple/bulk purchases
  • Loyalty points/cards
  • Complementary product offers
  • Introductory offers (first time buyer discounts)
  • Shipping updates and personalised ‘Thank you’ notes. 

In summary

We advocate using all of the information you have available to deliver the most relevant content and plan out a schedule of communications as a backdrop to ensure you keep a steady line of communication open. Sure you can send other offers from time to time but try and keep a frequent steady flow of information.

Above all be aware that customers respond to highly relevant messages delivered at the right time in a personal manner. Relationship marketing is about building relationships and not using email as a low cost means of soliciting orders. Of course the desired end result is that you receive orders – that’s business – but people are protective of their inboxes and you need to respect that. So go ahead and plan out a schedule of events and you’ll help retain the customers you have whilst your sales team focuses on winning new ones.

If you would like further information, please email [email protected] or call 0161 817 2929

Posted by Simon Hill

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