Every day more people use the Internet to find, price and research personal and business purchases. Companies that cater to this change will win over their competitors.
Whether a customer is walking into a supermarket, the gym or a car garage, they will often already know what they want. They’ve done a lot of online research to find the best price and right product options. They will have read a ton of reviews from disgruntled or contented customers.
Customers are now much better informed than ever before and no longer have to spend ages staring at two products on the shelf to know which they want.
Google have even coined the term, ‘Zero Moment Of Truth’ (ZMOT), to describe this new situation where companies have to start competing for customers a long time before they think about buying. To be able to compete in the marketplace you have to be able to reach customers in their own environment wherever they are.
Not everyone has the same marketing and social media budgets as some of the larger corporations. To get past this smaller businesses are forced to lower prices or offer astounding deals to tempt people away from the more well-known and ‘trusted’ brands.
Smaller businesses cannot do without customers; however, this doesn’t mean that they should be focusing on offering the best one-off deals. This is a very short term solution. The key to running a successful business is to develop long-term relationships, cultivating customer relationships and maintaining these relationships over months and years.
How can this be done?
- People like dealing with people – If you’re not offering a 1-2-1 service, there is not going to be any kind of relationship. Customers will not feel loyal to you and will be happy to take their business elsewhere. To build a relationship, make your business transactions personal.
- Social media – This is one of the most simple and cost effective marketing channels. Keep your content engaging and interesting and make sure your posts are all personable, as this will let your customers see the people behind the company.
- Regular communication – Make sure you contact your customers regularly; by email, direct mail, text message and social media. Ask for feedback, act on feedback and let them know that you appreciate them.
- Face to face discussions – Give customers the chance to be involved in your company. Invite them to focus groups, feedback lunches and anything else you can to make them feel valued.
- Say thank you – A personalised thank you goes a long way, just as giving your loyal customers rewards does.
Above all, you need to remember that customers are also the best form of marketing. If you treat them right, ensuring that they know they’re valued, then they will stick with you and refer you to others time and time again, helping you drum up even more long-term business.