Master Relationship Marketing in Today’s World

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relationship marketing during covid-19

How has marketing changed due to COVID-19?

Have you ever gotten into an argument with a friend about your favorite coffee shop, only to find out that you and your friend have drastically different viewpoints on your allegiance to coffee brands?

Be it coffee or anything else, when you go out of your way to buy from the same brand, it’s because you have a relationship with that brand that goes beyond the product. Whether you earn bonus points, personalized experience, or an email on your birthday, you have a relationship with that brand, and that relationship sits at the heart of your purchasing decision.

When a brand creates this level of affinity with you through it’s marketing, it’s because they have a focus on relationship marketing.


What is Relationship Marketing?

Relationship marketing is a type of marketing in which a business focuses on long-term, deep-meaning relationships with its customers, in an effort to create a loyal brand advocate and a two-sided relationship. There’s emphasis placed on the customer evangelizing the brand because of great experience.

Rather than looking at customer engagements as one date, each relationship is looked at as a marriage with a series of dates. This requires looking at the human-to-human element of a relationship and getting to know the consumer, speaking directly to them, and making sure their needs are met through your offering, time and time again.


What is a Brand Evangelist?

As opposed to selling one-offs in a transactional approach, relationship marketing creates repeat buyers and evangelists that recruit others into your brand. Very often, the relationship is centered around an alignment on beliefs (i.e. Bombas’ socks donates a pair of socks for every one purchased so people buy into the brand’s beliefs in helping others) acting as a glue in the relationship.

People are passionate about their beliefs. If a brand’s belief align with yours, then they will evangelize you and your brand as one who helps push your beliefs forward.


Are Relationship Marketing and Personalized Marketing the Same?

Not really. In relationship marketing, it’s vital to know who you are marketing to, and to personalize your messaging to that customer, but they are not mutually exclusive. Relationship marketing definitely needs to be personalized, as it’s hard to create a relationship with someone without getting to know them and tailoring your messaging, timing and offers to them.

But, relationship marketing goes beyond that to make sure there’s a two-sided value proposition between the customer and the brand. For example, you may get an offer to purchase from an eCommerce store on your birthday that’s personalized to you, but you only hear from them on your birthday and that’s it. That’s personalized, but not a relationship.


What is Digital Relationship Marketing?

Relationship marketing through digital communication channels means that you know where your customers are online, and have tailored messages to them on those channels. Additionally, the content produced on those channels aligns with the brand promise, core beliefs, and value proposition that the customer has grown to love about you.

How many times have you seen a social media post or gotten an email from a brand and thought, “hmm, that message felt off”. For example, a brand that discusses or promotes a political party that doesn’t align with your own. They’ve broken their brand promise that sits in the middle of your relationship, and your relationship is forever soured.

So, it’s important to make sure you know your customer personas, plan the digital channels through which they consume information, and have a clear content strategy that aligns with your brand promise. We follow a strict process to market for our clients, and the results are deeper, meaningful relationships, leveraging cost-effective marketing through digital channels.


How Can a CRM Help Build The Customer Experience?

A CRM allows you to keep valuable information about your customers to individually reach out to further the relationship. For example, you may save information about a person’s interests, like golf, and reach out to invite your customer to play golf as part of the relationship or send branded golf balls.

Beyond that, it allows you to do a better job of truly understanding your customer, their goals, their style and making sure you, as a good partner, tailor your communication, style, offers and messaging to them. From a marketing standpoint, it also allows for list segmentation alongside data points (i.e. target all the marketing managers that live in Philadelphia, PA that we’ve not contacted in 6 months). This gets a specific message out to that segment, empowering you to automate some of your relationship marketing. Software such as HubSpot offer both a CRM and a Marketing Platform allowing you to collect data on your clients, segment them in many ways, and target them based on their needs.


How Has the Market Landscape Changed?

With the evolution of social media and online reviews, there’s nowhere to hide. Poor interactions and faulty products are called out by consumers immediately, and consumers know to check reviews and social media before making a purchase. That has inherently forced you, as a business marketer, to focus on the relationship with your customer even before they purchase.

It’s important to ensure that a current or past customer has a great experience demonstrating a good relationship, so that the new opportunities can see your focus on creating meaningful relationships. This puts someone you are dating (or just swiping left or right on your business online) in a position where they can see what it will be like to be married to your brand.

Brands can’t hide behind a false promise. Bad experiences will cause a landslide for new opportunities and leave room for competition to step in.


What Impact has COVID-19 had on Relationship Marketing?

People buy from those they know, like and trust. In times of high stress, with purchases under scrutiny, that becomes even more true. For example, I’ve purchased from Amazon for years, and I know they deliver on time, focus on good, safe delivery service and get my orders right. Would I risk ordering from a new service now, not knowing their brand promise? Not as likely. COVID-19 has forced us to focus more heavily on the relationships we already have and leverage our current resources to accomplish more.

I have a feeling that two things will happen:

1) Deepen the relationship between brands with loyal customers already

2) Open new doors for relationships being created between brands that have helped people get through difficult times

For example, the banker you already rely on securing funds through the SBA will undoubtedly ensure you work more closely together in the future. But, if he doesn’t deliver, and another banker steps in to help you in this time of need, that person has paved the way towards a future relationship, starting off with the most important part of a relationship, humanity.


Where Do We Go From Here?

We had ambitious goals for 2020 and hit many of our Q1 goals. But the world has changed and so has the marketing landscape. We’ve had to re-evaluate our goals and are still doing so, but we haven’t lost sight of our goals for 2020 – and neither should you.

Schedule an open brainstorm about ways you can adapt to stay close to hitting your year-end goals. Whether that means you have to do it in-house, with the resources you already have, or with us, we’re here to help.

Ben LeDonniApril 20, 2020by Ben LeDonni