Relationship marketing is basically a concept that is based on building and maintaining relationships with current, prospective, and past customers. This is not a new concept. In fact, before business got so big and people were still on a first name basis with their local store owners, that is how business was done.
Relationship marketing means that your first priority is getting to know people first before they buy from you. In fact, you don’t actually sell to those you have a relationship with, you just share.
This is the concept used in direct sales and multi-level marketing and that is why people in those businesses have become so successful. Direct sales reps and distributors are taking the time to get to know they people who could benefit not only from the product they distribute, but also from the business opportunity. Whether their prospect becomes a customer, fellow distributor, or passes on both, a good direct sales representative will continue the relationship in order to share when the time is right.
How does this work in a traditional business setting? Imagine you are the manager of a chain retail store at the mall. While you may not have control over things that come to you from the corporate office, you do know the corporate office would love to have higher sales. As the store manager, you may be able to create an environment where potential customers come in, feel at home, and are spoken to as real people, not just a possible sale.
You can tell when you walk into a store or company and people understand this concept because they take the time to get to know you before suggesting anything. And, in some cases, they may tell you that they don’t have what you need, but, in fact, show you another retailer or company where you can get what the customer is looking for.
When your business begins to concentrate on getting to know the customers and fulfilling their needs, even if you can’t, you begin to set your business apart from others in a great way. People will begin to recognize that you are not there simply to take their money, you really want to help them.
By taking the time to get to know your customers, you begin a relationship that continues past the initial sale. When your business has something new that a previous customer might enjoy, contact them and let them know. Make sure customers get something special in the month of their birthday. If you’re a smaller business, you may be able to personalize this even more when you stay in contact with your customers.
The bottom line is that even if you have customers who buy from you only one time, your goal in relationship marketing is to put yourself out there as a person people can trust and come to when it is time for them to buy your products and keep that relationship going over time so that you have the chance to build life-long customers.