8 top tips for Relationship Marketing

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Magrudy's, an institution in Dubai has a whole bag of tricks to keep their customers happy and coming back

Making a person love your brand is the way forward in relationship marketing whether you own a little tech store in Dubai, or are running the sales and marketing team of a massive multinational.

Relationship marketing has evolved from the recognition that companies need to retain customers. It is significantly cheaper to sell to someone who has already bought from you, than to bring in new customers.

So what are the key building blocks for relationship marketing?

Focus Groups

Get people in to tell you what they really think about your product or service. You may be surprised by the results.

Questionnaires & Online Surveys

Again, a great way to find out what people really think about your company. But take care with your questions: it is easy to weight them so the answers are favourable. An online survey is a great way of reaching your customers who wouldn’t normally stop in the street or store.

Mystery Shoppers

The staple way of finding out how people in your company perform when they think nobody important is around. Find out exactly how good your customer support in-store and online really is.

Loyalty Cards

Now this one may have reached the end of it’s lifespan – just how many loyalty cards can one person hold in their wallet? But at least giving people the option of having one, shows you are willing to give them something extra if they come back enough times.

Social Network

If your company isn’t on at least one social networking site, first of all you should be calling a meeting to find out why. Every single major company in the world is engaging daily with their customers on at least one of the major networking vehicles: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and blogs.

And they all intertwine. One feeds naturally into another. With your Twitter feed you can flag up new activity on your blog, the latest product launch on YouTube, a competition on Facebook, or your latest employee through LinkedIn. Social Networking creates it’s own loops and circles where your customers will find their own interest point to enter into your company’s online activity.

Rewards

Now we are all familiar with the voucher system that gives something back to your customers. It still works but the method of delivery is now changing: the email voucher is gaining ground on the cut out magazine voucher. By making it possible for customers to spend the email voucher in stores as well as online cuts your paper and posting costs as well as making it easier for the customer to use it. And 20% off a dress they’ve been hankering after since the beginning of the season is going to give them a warm feeling when they buy it.

Social Responsibility

Getting involved in local charities is not just about getting your name in different venues from normal. This element of relationship management is, in many respects, the one that is more fraught than any other: your company could easily be perceived as purely wanting to have, have, have, when what you want to show is how you can give, give, give.  Get it wrong and you’ll spend a lot of money clawing back your reputation. Get it right and everyone wins. Whether it is simply becoming a key sponsor in a local charity or creating a Foundation that helps give opportunities to young people in your area, it is important that your company gives support locally.

Entertain them

The fun part of advertising and marketing is the entertainment factor. And with so many ways available now and with the cost of entry so low, get out there and make a video, animate your widget, create a circus show outside the store, make a song, create your own paper, ebook, magazine… the only limit is your imagination, oh and budget, of course.

Your sales and marketing team in Dubai need to get round the table once a week and take a good look at what is being done to enhance the customer’s experience of your service.

Are you reaching out to your potential market en masse or do you use the more subtle, effective method of relationship marketing? Your transactional customers may not sustain your business long term and according to Pareto’s Law approximately 20% of your customers are going to be responsible for 80% of your business. So do you know who these emotively loyal customers are and how are you engaging and communicating with them? Does your business adhere strictly to the traditional marketing mix approach focusing on markets and products or are you developing a more holistic approach and developing relationships with your customers? Is there synergy between your customer service departments, quality management and marketing team and does your strategy recognise that each employee has a marketing function? Are the customers that are initially loyal to your brand about to jump ship because you are not cementing your relationship with them?

Will he let his hair grow back now Steve Jobs has retired?

It is important to know who your customers are to retain their loyalty to your brand, they are the ones that have developed trust in your brand and need individual attention. Analysing your consumer database offers insights into their needs and demographics. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is about understanding who your customers are through long term study, improving the way you communicate with them and is aimed at creating relationships that can increase profitability. Vital information about customers such as frequency, recency, type and amount of purchase will help you develop a picture of their Life Time Value (LTV).  You can segment your markets and target them more effectively communicating with them about products they truly might be interested in, anticipate their needs and track their response to your personalized approach and promotions. The data from CRM programs should feed back to management to drive the marketing strategy forward and assess the most effective and convenient communication channel for your different customers whether it be point of sale or internet based. Indeed for this valued set of customers you should be acutely aware of how they prefer to be communicated to.

However, there is no point in having lots of data if you are not using it thoughtfully and allocating resources to maximize the return from your 20% of most profitable emotivally loyal customers.  Businesses can use free (for basic features) internet data analysers e.g. Google Analytics or invest more deeply by using services such as Omniture or Webtrends. Businesses that choose to use a paid service may already be ahead of the game since they have signaled a deeper commitment to the process of customer analytics.  CRM systems are the key to defining your customers; creating customer satisfaction; improving customer service brand loyalty; receiving their feedback; engaging them as brand ambassadors and can result in directed rather than mass marketing.

So how is brand Dubai doing these days? Well, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, set up the Dubai Media affairs office in 2009. One of its  purposes is to investigate and enhance Dubai’s image  and if recent reports are to be believed Dubai is rapidly overcoming the backlash the city saw in the wake of the debt crisis and more positive chat is appearing again . Sheikh Mohammed himself has 457,885 twitter followers and growing and it is clear that the relationship strategy for Brand Dubai has key leadership support.

ISM training will run the highly successful Marketing Masterclass public course from September 11th to 13th and also runs more focused Marketing Communications/Strategy courses both in-house and publicly.