Most businesses market themselves and generate leads differently, but there are a few things that are fundamentally similar when creating healthy customer relationships, making both B2C and B2B marketing look a lot like dating.
A lot of the major buzzwords in marketing look strikingly similar to the way we typically date, from the awareness stage to consideration and deciding on a partnership, sometimes it’s as simple as finding the right match to form solid customer relationships.
Your business provides a unique product or service that tailors to a specific clientele, so when someone shows a little bit of interest in your business, you swipe right. When their brow lifts, you know you can make your move. Online, this looks like click-throughs on your site, questions or comments left on your social media pages, or consistent newsletter-opens. It could also be a phone call to your business, an in-person introduction, or potential walk-in buyer. Knowing your “type,” their habits, and where they usually spend time is a crucial part of the customer relationship process as well.
They say when it clicks, you feel it. This can stand for client/customer relationships as well. In the B2C world, this looks like customers excited for every new product offering, because they see the worth in your product or service. There is a warm fuzzy feeling that happens when you know the relationship can benefit both parties. Enjoy that feeling that tells you, out of all the fish in the sea of businesses, they chose to swim over to get a closer look at you.
The Flirting Stage
Now is not the time to play hard to get, but if you seem too pushy, you could risk losing their trust. Start by providing them some free information. Be useful and helpful to them, so your prospect knows they can trust you and you’re a pro. You’re just getting to know each other here, so don’t be afraid to take it slow in this stage of the customer relationship!
Maybe you take a quick look through their social media accounts or website to see what services you can help them with, or it could be as simple as asking if they’d like to be added to your newsletter list so you can offer them the articles and advice your business provides.
If you’re in a B2B situation, use Linkedin as your subtle flirt: tell them you’d love to connect with them and follow up with any questions they may have had about your business, clarifying how this customer relationship can benefit both parties. For a B2C customer, consider offering coupons or incentives to get them to want to use you.
The First Date
You’ve put the bait on the line. You know your company worth, and you know what you can provide, but now comes the hard part. There are some lingering doubts at this stage that can be hard to ignore. “Do they really like me?” “Am I really what they’re looking for?” If you’re working with clients, offering a free consultation can be a great way to clear these doubts and see what your working relationship will look like. Pleasantries are exchanged, and an open conversation can be had about how the day-to-day client relationship will look. This is a good chance to clarify their expectations of you, and an opportunity for you to vet the client to see if they are indeed a good fit for your services.
If you’re working with customers, this is the time to let your customer service skills really shine! Show them you are willing to put your money where your mouth is by offering a trial-period and an opportunity for coupons that can help your customer get really acquainted with your products without them having to give up too much. Good customer rapport can be a real lifesaver in this situation. What everyday situation does your product or service make easier for your customers? How can you meet their primary individualized need?
Time to Commit
It’s time to seal it with a kiss (or a nice solid handshake). Draw up your contract and let your client know that you can adjust some things according to their needs. After all, good relationships are all about compromise, right? Celebrate them and let them know you are excited about things to come with a thoughtful email. Or go old-school and mail out a handwritten thank you note.
For B2C relationships, the contract can look like more of a one-time transaction. The challenge then is to keep the relationship last longer by making your customer feel like they’ve been let in on a secret. This is an excellent chance to check in on your checkout process. Do you offer the opportunity to sign up for more special promotions or a newsletter in your checkout? These small details can help you retain and grow your long-term client base.
Communication is key to a long-term relationship. Make sure you are following up on their requests, checking in regularly, and acting as an advocate for their business. Remember, the more you invest in your client’s or customer’s well-being, the more they will trust and invest in your business. For B2C companies, keep your customers in the loop with exclusive sales and offerings, promo codes, and a customer loyalty rewards system. When both members of the transaction feel valued and prioritized, it can be the start of a beautiful client/customer relationship.