These are interesting times for small business owners. The growth of communication technology, especially the internet has meant that small business owners can reach out to their customers and prospects much more effectively than ever before.
SMBs are now able to execute relationship marketing endeavors at a fraction of the cost of what it would’ve taken them in the pre-internet days. Relationship marketing involves developing close relationships with both customers and prospects. Regular communication allows you to apprise them about what’s new at your end and at the same time gather valuable customer information. The information can then be analyzed for developing marketing campaigns, positioning your products, improving your website design, in short everything that can help you serve the customer better and get more business. It’s always worthwhile to remember that its easier to keep an existing customer happy than get a new one.
For SMBs relationship marketing is an inexpensive means of gaining business. SMBs are also well-placed to pursue a much more customized relationship marketing initiative as against enterprises. You can build long lasting personal relationships that can help your business grow.
An online presence is crucial for marketing your products and services and with a well-designed website you can execute several relationship marketing activities. In fact, several activities are a one-time effort. Enhance your customer’s browsing experience when he’s on your site by providing a detailed FAQ section; provide live customer support if possible, email support with a short turnaround time when dealing with customer queries; keep updating your site; run a customer-oriented business – have a money back policy in place. Remember, with relationship building actions speak louder than words.
SMBs can now take on the heavyweights in their fields thanks to communication channels like email and VoIP. Email your customers to inform them about new offers, good deals, and relevant information about your business. You may want to consider sending newsletters that provide your opt-in readers with information and links to take them to pages on your site.
You can use emails to reach out to local customers that can likely visit your bricks and mortar store and also to build relationships with online prospects who can visit your website.
Use emails to stay in touch and not just to push products. Try and get some mindshare by being useful to them. Offer support; guide them on how to use a purchased product via email. A great way to increase your reach is to join hands with businesses not in competition with you, develop discount schemes linked to your combined products and then email prospects informing them about these deals.
If the customer responds to your emails, have an idea on how to proceed with the relationship. A timely response is critical, unanswered communication will not do anything for your customer relationship efforts.
Although relationship building is straightforward in theory, in practice it is a lot of hard work. You have to be willing to work extra hard so that your small business is noticed amidst all the other businesses that pervade the small business domain, especially on the Internet.