2016 – A Year for Relationship Marketing

In our previous article we looked at the key marketing trends that the industry expect to see developing in 2016 and how these trends can be used for businesses of any size. The general view is that the changes are all focused firmly on the consumer, something that, surprisingly, marketing has had as a lower priority for many years.

Relationship Marketing is the core strategy for this trend this approach focuses on building brand loyalty through customer satisfaction rather than focusing on transactional sales. Knowledge really is power and by using market research, customer data and buying behaviours we are able to build a picture of the consumer which can then be used to shape future activities

 

From Traditional to Inbound

As we all become increasingly reliant on the digital world, the way that consumers shop has changed and in doing so the way that we need to sell has evolved. Traditionally a producer or retailer would be able to broadcast a message and hope that the customer would acknowledge this and act on it eg a newspaper advertisement. Today’s consumers want to feel that they have discovered the product and made the choice having heard about it from a friend, researched it online or interacted with the brand on social media. They don’t want to feel that they have been sold to.

The key to success for producers and retailers is to ensure that the information about the product is there, ready to be found. This approach is called inbound marketing and has been evolving over the last decade alongside the rise of digital technology. Inbound marketing refers to activities that draw customers in, leads them to your business and makes them want to find out more. By building this intrigue you are also building a more solid relationship with a customer and putting the foundations in place for all future relationship marketing activities.

 

Building Content

As a business owner nobody knows more about your product or service. Even an employee of the company should have sufficient knowledge and passion for the brand to be able to talk about it. The first steps for successful relationship marketing is to create a plan for how that knowledge is to be used. Firstly look at what form your information can take such as videos, product reviews, partnership promotions, giveaways, how to guides, factsheets , eBooks, case studies or podcasts. Then look at where it can be used to enable consumers to find it: your website, industry blogs, social media, e-newsletters and partner websites. Once you have a full list of opportunities start to map out a calendar of activities that will resonate with your consumers for example a farm shop might like to create a list of the perfect hamper items in November ahead of the Christmas rush to be shared on their Facebook page whilst in January they could provide a calendar of seasonal vegetables to download from the website.

 

Taking a (free) Helping Hand

Relationship marketing is dependent on consistency. A haphazard or infrequent approach will result in either a poor impression or no lasting impression meaning that the brand is essentially starting a fresh with every piece of activity.

Fortunately there are plenty of tools to help build a relationship marketing strategy and bring it to life.

  • Customer Relationship Management System – You may already have this as part of an accountancy programme, essentially it is a way to build up a picture of your consumer and their buying habits. Different programmes offer different features but many will let you segment customer groups, plan tasks, review responses and schedule contact.
  • Email Management Systems – This could be part of your website, but many businesses use online options such as Mailchimp which allow you to store contact details, design emails, dispatch them at the optimum time and once the email has been sent it provides the all-important analytics to help you develop future activities. This programme is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and very good value for money thereafter.
  • Social Media Tools – This could be an entire article in its own right. There are so many tools to help with social media. Scheduling through Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, analysing performance through Klout or planning and sharing through Buffer. Most people will have an opinion on the best programmes to use and fortunately these tools are designed to be user friendly and either free to try or free for basic use, meaning that you can test out multiple options before selecting the one that’s best for you and your business.

Making it Work.

For some this may seem like a daunting task, miles away from any current marketing activities. For others it may be second nature. The important point to remember is that the time has come to treat customers as friends. Appreciate the patronage and nurture the growth as securing a repeat purchase has been proven to cost less than gaining new customers.

Building the content and creating a plan is just the starting point. From there successful relationship marketing requires a commitment to regular activity as well as evaluation in order to utilise the knowledge to develop further. It is a big task, but one that will provide the business with not only sales but also the long term commitment and advocacy from loyal customers.

 

2016 Marketing Trends

At the start of the year I was asked to write an article for a client publication looking at the forthcoming marketing trends that were anticipated for 2016, here are my thoughts…

As one year comes to and end and a new one begins the media is full of predictions for what the coming months might have in store. What will be the latest food that we should all eat, what item of clothing will be de rigeur and what will be the must have gadget in 2016. Even the trade press get in on the act taking a look at what will be happening across industry and the marketing journalists are certainly full of ideas.

Whilst most of these trends are aimed at big brands from multi-national organisations with multi-million pound budgets, there is a lot to be learned for any size of business as most consumers will engage with a wide range of products and brands, mixing the mainstream with the more niche or local products and services.

We’re taking a look at a few of the predictions for marketing trends in 2016 and explore how they might be adapted to suit a range of budgets, skills and resource and in doing so we hope to give you so ideas to help your business and brand grow this year.

Strengthening Relationships: Relationship Marketing

Making the sale is the main aim of all business no matter what the product or service, without wanting to state the obvious too much, without sales our businesses are nothing. Finding consumers is a challenge, getting them to be aware of your brand, have a need for it and understand the value are the stages that we all spend a lot of time working on. So why is it that so many people focus on recruiting new customers rather than nurturing the existing ones?

Relationship Marketing is a strategy that focuses on building brand loyalty through customer satisfaction rather than focusing on transactional sales. Essentially it’s about the old adage ‘do as you would be done by’ treat customers how you would want to be treated, with respect and appreciation.

It takes a long term approach, building credibility, sharing useful information, rewarding customers for their loyalty and making them feel like they are a valued part of the business. The key to achieving this is customer knowledge, building information about the consumer base, collating basic contact details, preferences, insights. Much of this can be done either in a basic spreadsheet or via one of the many customer relationship management programmes available such as Salesforce, Less Annoying CRM or a custom build option from your web developer.

Once you have the data; use it! Build a communication plan to map out how often and through which channels you’ll speak to your customers. This could be through newsletters, events, social media or blogs. Provide rewards for their custom such as money off vouchers or golden touches such as a small free gift or a personalised letter (more on that later). The important point to consider is what would make you as a consumer feel valued or make them want to tell their friends and family about your business transaction.

 

Shifting to Automatic

We all lead busy lives and there never seem to be enough hours in the day to complete the tasks on your to do list. Marketing slips further and further down the list always nagging away but often neglected. Thankfully there are plenty of tools, apps and widgets coming out of Silicon Valley designed to make your life easier by allowing you to nurture your contacts and evolve them to a state of loyalty.

Marketing Automation can be as complex or simple as your knowledge and budget will allow. To Amazon or eBay it’s about tracking your every move, understanding what you bought, when, how, what stopped you and more. It then uses that intelligence to persuade you to buy more by putting the right messages in front of you and bringing you back to that point of purchase. For smaller businesses it’s about using the content that you create such as blog articles, testimonials, customer reviews and using that content to build the customer awareness by scheduling social media posts, website articles and e-newsletters. The biggest benefit to you is that most of today’s communication programmes and apps such as Facebook, Hootsuite or Mailchimp will allow you to pre-programme when your messages are being transmitted and will often provide information about when would be the best time.

When used alongside relationship marketing it really does start to not only provide an intelligent way of driving sales but also, if used correctly, reduces the amount of time spent on marketing.

 

Making it Personal

It would seem that we’re all becoming more self-obsessed. Since the word ‘selfie’ entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013 we have continued to fuel this interest in ourselves, sharing photos of what we eat, where we travel and what exercise we have and haven’t done with anyone who will listen. Big brands are continuing to make the most out of this mind set, tailoring products and services to individual (or so they think) customers.

2015 saw a huge number of personalised gift and products, Coca-Cola bottles, bars of chocolate, bottles of whisky or more bespoke items such as any number of gifts from Not On The High Street or Etsy. It looks like this trend is set to continue into 2016, so the challenge is to look at how you can personalise your product? Icing a name on a cake, attaching a bespoke label or even creating a variant for Mother’s Day can all not only ensure that your products are on trend but also, critically, provide that final reason for purchase.

 

It’s Over to you

Whilst these are just 3 of the key areas that the industry predict to see more of in 2016, they do all show the importance of putting the consumer at the heart of all marketing activity. For too long brands have relied on transmitting messages loudly to the masses and it would now seem that as consumers we simply won’t accept that. Instead we want to be treated with respect, talked to as real people and appreciated for our custom. The question is, how will you ensure that you’re doing this in 2016?

The Christmas Countdown – A Marketing Opportunity

Xmas Marketing

I’m going to say something quietly… it’s only 55 days until Christmas.

The festive season tends to go two ways for businesses. It’s either:

Option A “Oh my goodness we’re so busy I can’t even take a breath until 9pm on Christmas Eve”

Or

Option B “All our customers are too busy with their own silly season to think about spending money with us. We’ll have another mince pie and wait until January”

No matter which way you still need an integrated plan to ensure that you make the most of the opportunity, engaging with customer who might be distracted or making the most of the sales opportunity available.

So whether you need a full marketing strategy, a campaign plan or a concise promotional plan, please do get in touch to arrange a free consultation to make the most of Christmas 2015.

In Need of an Extra Pair of Hands?

If life does get a little out of control in the run up to year end then why not consider taking on an extra pair of hands. As a freelance Marketing Manager I can work from as little as a day a month or a few days a week to ensure that the plan is in place and activated in line with your business objectives; leaving you to focus on what you do best.

Direct Mail – A Long Term Committed Relationship

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As a Marketing Consultant I work with my clients in a variety of ways to suit their needs and budgets. For some this is a one off project to write them a marketing strategy that they can then implement themselves. For others it’s a short term project to deliver a specific campaign based around a key period of trading, a new product launch or to support a specific customer partnership. However the best returns that I see are from those clients who I work with on a retained basis, offering a set number of days per month.

Typically a retained client relationship will start with the creation of a marketing strategy, a chance to get to know the business, the brand, the target market, competition and previous work. From here we can map out a calendar of activity to address the business and marketing objectives which will ensure and reassure the client that their business will be promoted to their target market as often as required.

The longer that we work together, the more insights we gain, what the target market responds well to, what competitor activity resonates and what are the opportunities to evolve the plan.

This point was illustrated recently with a client, we’ve carried out many pieces of activity over the last 12 months, including newsletters, direct mail, hosting events and creating branded materials. I’m pleased to say that they all had a good level of success. This month we took the direct mail to the next level. We know that the target market have a sense of humour, this has been shown from the response to the newsletters. We know that they like the personal touch and we know that they work with a few of my clients competitors so its important to remind them that we’re there and stand out from the crowd.

Our latest direct mail was not only personalised and comical but it also contained a free gift that was designed to interrupt their day and bring a smile to their faces. Once they had received the DM they also received a follow up phone call to chat about the services.

The results, well, we’re quite chuffed to report that out of the small number sent out (this is a very niche service my client offers) we received 42 positive responses, 13 requests for more information three invitations to speak at seminars and one immediate new booking. Given that the industry average response for DM activity is just 2% you can see why we’re pleased with ourselves!

So if you’re looking to see results from any piece of marketing activity, they key is to build up a picture based on market research. Ensure your activity resonates, reminds and interrupts and wherever possible always add the personal touch. In this day and age where we’re bombarded with thousands of messages each day, the main aim is to achieve cut through and sometimes all that’s required to achieve this is a little bit of planning and thought.

If you’d like to chat about how we can help plan and deliver your marketing please do get in touch.

Marketing Campaign Planning & Activation

Marketing Campaign Harper Dolman & West

Harper Dolman & West Insurance identified an opportunity within the market but needed help creating and activating a marketing campaign. We created a multimedia campaign across 3 months which provided over 37,000 opportunities to engage with an audience reach of 24,000. Of the activitiy, Steven Redwood, from Harper Dolman & West said:

 

“Working with Neylands Tonic was a pleasure. Lizzie came to our office to discuss in detail what we were looking to achieve and came back with a detailed plan as to how we could achieve this, the actions we need to take with a broad time plan set out and importantly clear indications as to how much this would cost. Throughout the process Lizzie managed every aspect of the programme and took all the pressure from me and managed everything in a very professional manner.  If you need any advice with regards to marketing then I would strongly suggest you speak to Lizzie from Neylands Tonic.”

 

If you have a particular group of people, geographical area or time of year that you’d like to promote your business then please do get in touch to discuss the ways that we can create a tailored marketing campaign. Our first consultation is always free and we pride ourselves on creating campaigns that not only delight the client but also see tangible results.

 

For more information about the range of insurance services provided by Harper Dolman & West please see their website www.harperdolmanwest.co.uk

 

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