Boost customer loyalty, create marketing opportunities, and shorten the sales cycle--without spending much doing it. Here's how.
One of the most difficult challenges for businesses, from start-up mode to mature entity, is creating "relevancy" with customers. Being relevant does not stop with having a great product—that's often just the first part of the equation. Real relevance happens when you find ways to add value to your customers' lives—before, during, and after a sale. Relevance makes customers choose your company over a competitor, it generates customer satisfaction during their interaction with your company, and it keeps them bringing their business back to you time and again. Make your business relevant in three easy steps.
1. Offer extra insight.
When customers are deciding who will win their business, they are often faced with multiple offers, which, at first glance, can appear similar to each other. Set your business apart by not only showing customers the value of your product, but also the expertise that comes with it. If you own a real estate company, for example, don't just send postcards with a picture of your latest listing—include a tip on a nearby neighborhood restaurant and maybe even a recipe from that eatery. This will give your customers insight into their potential new neighborhood and inspire them to imagine living there—from cooking in their new kitchen to dining out near their new home. As an added bonus, reach out to the restaurant and get them to pick up the cost of the mailing in exchange for the free PR.
2. Make your company an information hub.
Customers' time is valuable. Make your business relevant to them by acting as a sieve through which the information they need to make their buying decision passes. Simplifying industry research or giving expert advice on purchasing makes it easy for customers to buy through your business. When a customer recently called to say her state was changing the laws governing licensing for piercers, we knew all of our customers in the same state would need to make changes quickly in order to be in compliance, and we made it easy for them by putting details about the changes in legislation on our website. We were sure to extract the relevant data which relate to the products we sell. We even added a 'tell a friend' link to the page so readers could let other stores in their area know where to go to get clarity.
3. Protect your customers--even after they buy.
Customers like to spend money where they feel safe. One of the best ways to remain relevant is to continue to protect your customers after they purchase with you. If your company is a travel agency, for example, don't let the interaction end when the airplane ticket is purchased. Keep yourself on the top of your customers' minds by sending them a checklist of important travel information a week before departure. Remind them about carry-on liquid rules, health and safety concerns at their destination, or important items to pack for international travel. This lets them know you are as invested in their vacation as they are in your business. If you highlight a particular product in this process, contact the company that sells it and ask to send your checklist to their email list too (with a link back to your travel site). You just might gain new business.
Relevance is a powerful tool both in growing your business and in safeguarding your standing in the marketplace. Efforts to remain relevant can boost customer loyalty, create marketing opportunities, and shorten the sales cycle—all for very little money.
In 2004, VANESSA MERIT NORNBERG opened Metal Mafia, a wholesale body and costume jewelry company that sells to more than 5,000 specialty shops and retail chains in 23 countries. Metal Mafia was an Inc. 500 company in 2009. @vanessanornberg