Values: From the General Store to the Internet
Relationship marketing and relationship building with blogs has long been considered a major reason for starting and maintaining a business blog.
Not all business people, and indeed not all bloggers, agree on the value of blogs for creating and developing those important customer relationships. It’s the values of the tradtional country store in action, but placed in a high tech milieu.
You’ve often heard the term relationship marketing used, but were never really certain what it meant. It does sound kind of touchy feely, doesn’t it? Really all it means, however, is building good long term customer relations. Those lasting relationships are built on developing a sense of trust; and of becoming known to your customers, present and future, as a real person.
To turn your present marketing system into relationship marketing, you have to change your outlook somewhat. Traditionally, marketers have located their target market segments, made their offer, and made the sales. It’s always been a single step process.
A multiple step marketing program is far more valuable. That’s where relationship marketing enters the picture. Instead of trying to sell the potential customer a product or sefvice immediately, it’s a much better idea to let the person get to know and trust you first.
People buy from other people they know and trust. That fact is well known in sales and marketing circles, but it’s a lesson that is not always put into practice. The perceived turnaround time is often considered to be too long for many businesses. Quarterly reports demand immediate payoffs that very often never live up to expectations.
Relationship marketing looks at customers and clients over a longer term. It takes into account the lifetime value of a customer. Many experts think it costs anywhere from six to ten times as much, to find a new customer, than to sell to an existing one. With those financial realities in mind, the approach makes some sense, and some real dollars.
Relationship marketing is based on the idea, that people prefer to do business with people, they know and like. After all, it’s easier to buy from a friend, than from someone you’ve never heard of before. The focus is on a multi-step marketing system that works for the lifetime of the customer. It’s the time proven principle of the small town general store in action. Everyone knew the storekeeper and his family and he knew the family details of the store’s entire customer base. Friendships and business relationships were one and the same. The lines were so blurred that they didn’t exist any longer.
It’s been said that people need to hear an offer about seven times before they buy. That concept certainly works against the single step marketing method. In fact, it screams for a multiple step marketing program based on developing good long term customer relationships. The old time store keeper maintained the relationship through the years, creating the familiarity, and reinforcing it with calendars, personal visits, and special credit assistance when required by a family in need. The entire business was based on an exchange of information and of mutual trust.
That is where a business blog can be really helpful for many business people.
As you write your daily blog entries, your readers get to know you, and your business, on a more personal level. No longer seen as the proverbial faceless corporation, your company is viewed as consisting of good and trustworthy people, whose names and faces are known. Your business blog begins that all important relationship with your prospects and current customers. As they read about your daily business activities, your problem solving ideas, your business advice, and your various products, they begin to think of themselves as a part of the company.
The prospects for your products and services begin to turn into customers over time. Since they already know about you and your organization, it naturally follows that they will buy from you.
Your existing customers will remain loyal to your business, through the regular personal contact of your blog. Should a problem arise with a product or service, the iussue can be addressed immediately on the business blog. The openess and honesty displayed is a breath of fresh air, resulting in even greater customer loyalty, and a more cemented business relationship.
Openess and transparency builds customer relationship, contrary to the older management style of hiding problems. The old sweep problems under the rug style of management also had high customer attrition rates. You don’t want that situation, and neither do your clients. Your customers will not only stay loyal, but they will often bring tons of valuable referral business to your company. Happy customers are your best marketing friends.
By creating a business blog, you can develop strong bonds with your existing and future customers. Instead of treating them as numbers, you have formed a long term relationship with them. Their purchases, of your products and services, are a natural response to your blog entries. It is certainly not a one step sales system!
Creating a relationship with your customers and clients doesn’t just pay off financially for your company. It is also rewarding personally for you; and for your cusotmers. Everyone benefits in the end.
Start your blog and build those long term relationships.
You’ll be glad you decided on a business blog for your relationship marketing!
Check out Blog Business World for yourself.