What family-owned businesses teach us about relationship marketing is how to build and retain their customers. A smaller regional business serves its neighborhoods, town, and surrounding area. The customer is a family member, neighbor, and the person sitting next to you in church, at your kid’s activities, parents of your children’s friends. You care about each other. They know how to make each customer feel as if they are the most important person that ever walked through the door of their business.
Larger businesses that are built on the principle of putting their customers first also understand the concept of relationship marketing. Adding a personal touch and letting people know you care about them leads to a larger customer base and higher customer retention. In a world of email marketing, social media and reaching customers across continents, approaching potential customers in the right way is essential. Offering products that have genuine value and following up with great customer service is essential. Her PaperRoute and A Self Guru are two blogging businesses that are operated by women. These businesses are, of course, online-only, but rather than creating a cold insensitive environment, they understand how to retain customers. They do not just sell to you and you never hear from them again. They let you know they care about you after the sale and want to see you succeed You can read about my personal experience with both Her Paper Route and A Self Guru in these two articles “How To Make Money Blogging – Now“ and “3 Legal Pages You Need On Your Website“
A business that puts customer relationships first will attract and retain customers for long-term success. There are so many new business opportunities available in 2019! Many people still have brick and mortar businesses only, but there are also blogging businesses and businesses that strickly sell their products online like Etsy. Many businesses, like Walmart, have a very high brick and mortar presence but also use all the social media tools and the power of the Internet to reach and retain their customers. Just like any other business, their people make the difference. I have ordered many things online and had superior customer service every time. Our local Walmart also has great people that are willing to go the extra mile for their customers.By the way, Walmart is a “family-owned business”.
Perkins Y Vet Clinic in Perkins, OK is another example of excellent customer service. We took our beloved lab to them last year. She had been their patient for years. They were gentle and caring with her and our family. While they understood the medical issues far better than we did, they worked very hard to give her and us their very best advice, care, and attention. The vet even called me after hours to check on her and offer further care options. I appreciated that so much! After we lost her, we got a cast of her paw and a sympathy card in the mail with a picture of a black lab in a pink collar, just like her. What a very thoughtful thing to have done for us. She was our family and they understood that and genuinely cared for her and us. There was no real marketing intent, but it created a lasting bond with them.
EXCELLENT RELATIONSHIP MARKETING
A woman walks into a local “boutique” The owner and salespeople greet her by name. They have just received new stock and after asking what she is looking for, know just the thing she might like. Do you know how this feels? The owner talked to her clients before going to Dallas Market! She conducted market research and then her Market shopping trip was always focused on them. There was only one size of any item and you didn’t find her brands in Macy’s. At any given time, there were three generations served in her store. During the 1970s and ’80s. There were no personal computers, smartphones, no interactive websites, and no social media. Advertising primarily consisted of branding on signs, lovely smelling sacks, the local newspaper, telephone directory, and word-of-mouth She was a master at relationship marketing.
A salesperson works with her client through the entire process from selection to purchase. Take as many items to the dressing room as you like and your salesperson will remove and bring something new without you ever leaving. Do you want to take something home overnight? No problem. You aren’t paying for it yet. You may keep it for 3 days, bring back anything you decide against, then pay for the rest. Yes! You may have a charge account at 16 years old. What a great opportunity for you to build credit. “Would you like this gift wrapped?” was a standard question. They knew if it was a gift or for you! She did all these things and so much more that is now being advertised as new. We were so spoiled!
POOR RELATIONSHIP MARKETING
Fast forward to 2018 where we now have interactive websites and social media to help us market our business. The happy couple chooses their patterns from the wedding registry selections. There is no online registry for guests to view. This is huge today!
Oh, but wait it gets worse. The bride is getting calls now. Her selections are being discontinued before the wedding shower! Her guests are unable to actually purchase her selections because the store only had very few or maybe no items in her pattern AND they are unable to place special orders. She is asked if she’d like to choose another pattern! What??? After a little research, she learns that the manufacturer is not discontinuing her selections. This particular store has chosen to discontinue her pattern or color choice.
What happens now? The wedding guest walks out of the store, does a search online and purchases their gift from another store who is happy to have their business. Not only did they have the item in stock, but they also offered free gift wrapping. Customer service!
Oh, and some of these guests are planning their own wedding or a wedding for their child in the coming months. A mental note is made: “Do not register at this store”
Trust me! It would be better to just say your wedding registry is limited to a few select items that will be in stock and reordered for your guest’s convenience.
Build life-long relationships with your customers. Show them you genuinely care about them as a person first!
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