Building strong customer relationships is probably a close second only to lead generation for most manufacturers and industrial companies. Many of them will also tell you that the bulk of their new business comes from repeat customers.
It makes perfect sense then to put a good deal of effort into nurturing new leads and building strong relationships in order to convert them into loyal customers.
Here’s a quote from billionaire industrialist H. Ross Perot that exemplifies this business philosophy:
“Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships.”
Relationship Marketing or Personalized Marketing as some marketers like to call it, recognizes the life-time value of a customer rather than focusing on quick sales transactions. That is its key differentiator from other forms of marketing that tend to focus more on advertising and promotional messages.
For example, a safety valve manufacturer that uses a central database to catalog every valve used by its customers. Customers in turn get 24/7 access via a secure online portal to personalized content such as:
- Detailed and critical cradle-to-grave records of every valve installed at their plant
- Visibility into complete repair history and analytical tools for spotting trends
- Ready to use reports for planning preventive maintenance work without costly shutdowns
- Assistance with regulatory compliance
I am sure not too many of these customers will go price shopping every time they need new valves or spare parts. Ergo, highly personalized and relevant content will build strong long-term customer relationships.
Think all it requires is posting a bunch of new content on your site? Think again!
If content is king then your customers are wearing the crown. You are wasting your time and valuable resources if your content isn’t relevant and helpful to them.
To build and nurture good customer relationships, your content must:
- Recognize and address pain points that are important to your customers
- Describe or show (videos) how your products/services solve those problems
- Help to frame the discussion in their minds
- Add value to them with every visit to your site and/or download and help them make a more informed decision
- Provide proof of results that you have delivered for others
Think of relationship marketing as a ladder. Your goal is to move prospects that are at the bottom rung of the ladder right now to the very top where they are converted into repeat customers. You take qualified leads and move them up each successive rung. This usually involves providing them with highly personalized and relevant content at each step.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Automation applications have made it easier to automate many of the steps. More importantly, they allow you to monitor, test and refine your content for optimal results.
To me, relationship marketing is very much in line with the principles of inbound marketing with content. It is a combination of search optimization (SEO), development of relevant and engaging content, social media, PR and other outbound tactics that drive traffic back to the company’s Website. That’s where you begin the process of building customer relationships.
How are you using content to build stronger customer relationships?