The businesses that thrive in tough times have one invaluable asset, which they’ve worked hard to build over time: great customer relationships.
Relationships in business are a lot like relationships in real life. They’re based on communication, trust, and consistency. But how do you build relationships?
Here are our six tips to improve relationships with your customers:
1. Don’t focus on selling
This is one of the tenets of inbound marketing, and it applies specifically to your relationship-building efforts online.
If all a consumer sees is your brand trying to sell something, the relationship becomes a tad one-sided. What’s in it for them? Why should they trust you?
Rather than using your direct communication channels such as email and social media to promote your products, specials, and sales, try focusing your messages around something that your audience relates to, ways you can solve their challenges, or starting a conversation.
2. Offer value
If you’re not going to focus on selling your product, what is there to talk about? The #1 way to build customer relationships is to bring something of value to the table, and offer it freely.
Examples of valuable content offers:
Educational content like e-books, webinars, how-tos, tips, checklists, and explainers.
Creative content that entertains, delights, and evokes emotions.
Offering value is particularly important during times of upheaval. By lending a hand, however, you can go a long way to build trust, loyalty, and a positive brand image.
3. Be consistent
Consistency is a sign of stability. Especially in uncertain times, your customers will appreciate when your brand is steady and on solid footing, and they’ll definitely notice if your brand is erratic, inconsistent, or shaky.
Consistency and stability can be demonstrated in a few ways:
Ensure that all communications, both verbal and visual, align with your brand personality, values, and style.
Show up regularly on digital engagement channels like social media and email. Post or reach out in consistent intervals, and avoid leaving large gaps in communication.
Stay positive and encouraging in your messaging, especially in a crisis situation. Calm, collected messaging shows that your brand is stable and trustworthy through thick and thin.
4. Show empathy
Empathy, the ability to acknowledge and respond to someone’s experiences and feelings, goes a long way when you’d like to improve relationships online.
Try framing your communications in a way that shows you care. For example, starting with phrases like “we understand,” “we realize,” and “we hear” creates an environment of responsiveness and helps raise awareness that you’re really listening.
5. Initiate communication and feedback
Strengthening relationships isn’t possible without two-way communication. Encourage conversations by posing questions or asking for feedback. Much of this takes place on social media, but response forms on your website or reply addresses in your emails are also great ways to foster communication.
Most importantly, don’t leave your customers hanging when they chime in! Take time to acknowledge and respond when your customers have something to say, whether it’s positive, negative, or anything in-between.
6. Let them get to know you
An air of mystery, while sometimes intriguing, isn’t very helpful when you’re aiming to improve relationships with your customers. Transparency, honesty, and openness help your audience understand who you are.
Here are some ways to promote transparency:
Go behind the scenes to give customers a look at your team and your processes.
Keep your customers aware of any non-confidential business changes that will improve your ability to serve them.
Be candid about your experiences. Customers relate to your brand a lot like they relate to another person. Being forthcoming makes your brand feel more human and relatable.
Be present in events like trade shows, especially if your brand does not have physical locations to engage with customers. Being able to tangibly experience your business is invaluable to helping your audience understand your brand personality and values.
Our successes as businesses and as customers rely on connection and community. Improving relationships with our customers is a great way to achieve an optimal environment of reciprocity between our brands and the people we serve.
Ready to build customer relationships through effective trade show marketing? The experts at Exhibit Options have solutions for both in-person and virtual trade show events. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!