Relationship Marketing – The Art of Influence and Experience
Just as you would be reticent to engage a random stranger that walked up to you asking you to convert to their religion, consumers will look the other way and keep walking (or scrolling) to avoid an obnoxious sales or marketing experience. Consumers are better equipped to sniff out a marketing ploy than ever before, while brands continue to shout at them through every possible physical and digital medium. Thankfully, there are ways for brands to avoid being obnoxious and overly salesy, and that will mutually benefit you and your customer.
Today, most marketers and salespeople agree that we need to build relationships with our customers. But many of those same marketers and salespeople will still bombard consumers with unwanted ads, distasteful automation tools, clickbait, and coercion when convenient. These tactics – though they may increase sales in the short-term – are unsustainable for any hope of a long-term customer relationship. The solution: relationship marketing.
Relationship marketing invites the consumer into a respectful relationship. The organization delivers value to the consumer by way of information and meaningful experiences. More of a marketing approach than a medium or platform, relationship marketing has become the foundation for many successful ecommerce brand campaigns. These brands listen to their audience and work hard to understand their perspective and desires to show their consumer that they can trust the brand and it has their best interest in mind.
Shifting Away from Traditional Marketing
The digital age allows vendors to do more with less. Because of this, customers aren’t limited to a few options but get to choose from endless shopping experiences. Much like dating and romance, a consumer’s relationship with a brand or product is equitable to a normal human relationship. In an unhealthy relationship, one partner tells the other partner what they want or need. Healthy relationships involve active listening and creativity. Similarly, businesses that overbearingly tell their customers what they want or need are losing to competitors that know how to make customers feel safe – and excited.
The shift away from traditional marketing to modern marketing approaches – experiential marketing, influencer marketing, content marketing, etc. – is less about the marketing channel and more about enhancing the customer experience. As such, relationship marketing uses experience and influence to empower customers, not overpower them.
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Using Influencer Marketing to Establish Healthy Customer Relationships
Embracing relationship marketing is bound to take your brand places you never thought possible. Brands that use relationship marketing seek to create the kind of customer loyalty that builds word-of-mouth momentum and generates user feedback for ongoing product development. When a business gets serious about relationship marketing, customer retention rises. And since “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%” (according to Harvard Business Review), brands that incorporate relationship marketing early on soon become key players in their industry or niche.
With this shift, influencer marketing is taking off – and for good reason. The power of authentic sponsored content from adored content creators has turned the once well-kept secret into a standard practice (and a billion dollar industry). While this rapid rise has led organizations all over the world to find success, the practice is still new and unfamiliar to many.
Authentic, long-term influencer relationships—termed influencer relationship management (IRM)—is about creating real, genuine connections between audiences, influencers, and brands. Brands engage in IRM by identifying authentic influencers whose personality and subject matter show that they’d likely have genuine interest in the brand and its products. Influencers and their brands can then creatively collaborate on promotional content that transfers the audience’s love and enthusiasm for influencers to the brand itself.
At the end of the day, the world of influencer marketing is all about customer experience. Partnering with an influencer means connecting with that influencer’s audience while simultaneously tapping into their creative powers for your brand. Building trust with influencers will further equip you to earn trust with customers more quickly which will drive results for your brand in the long term.