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.


Direct Mail – A Long Term Committed Relationship











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.

Client Testimonial: Your Somerset Town

“What a difference you have made to our Social Media following”

Your Somerset Town


We’ve been working with YourSomersetTown.co.uk for 3 months now managing their social media with the key focus on growing the population, developing engagement and driving visitors to the website. We’ve just received this lovely testimonial for the work….


I have been lucky enough to work with Neyland’s Tonic for the last 3 months & WOW what a difference you have made to our Social Media following.


You have provided me with a fantastic service & have made it easy for us to get our internal process underway.  You have always been available to answer my queries, your ideas are always fresh and intuitive.  


Your knowledge of your industry is second to none. I have enjoyed working with you Lizzie you are a true professional and my business is now reaping the awards.  Thank you!  


Why not take a look at their website www.yoursomersettown.co.uk

Marketing: It’s Like Making Friends

Quick Relief

Meet-Like-Know-Trust: vital ingredients to build a network of customers

Ultimately the reason that we all need to market our companies or products is to sell more. To give people a reason to either switch from a competitor or try something new. But why would a consumer do that? What reason have you given them to buy, to break their current habit? In other words why should they trust you?

Trust is a key factor in both marketing and friendships. I would hope that you trust all of your friends (if not then are they really friends?) You met them, thought there was something about them that you connected with, got to know them, the friendship flourished and with it the trust grew.

In his book ‘Get Off Your Arse’ Brad Burton explores this sequence of events relating to business relationships. Meet, like, know, trust. They are all vital steps to building a valuable network of clients, suppliers and customers. Why would you give business to someone you didn’t like? Didn’t know or hadn’t met?

The same principle can be applied to marketing…

  • Meet – a consumer has to be aware of the product, they must have met it somehow, be that face to face such as on the supermarket shelf, on the internet or in print etc
  • Like – you have shown some trait or feature that appeals to the consumer. We all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s be honest, a lot of us pick up a book based on its cover, how it looks, whether it appeals to you.
  • Know – now that hard work begins, you need to strengthen that bond, give them reasons to believe in your product, off the best quality, best value for money, excellent customer service and keep on delivering that consistently.
  • Trust – from the know phase, the trust is built and eventually your product is adopted by the consumer and the consumer becomes a brand advocate, a person who trusts the brand and will happily recommend it to others.

These are 4 simple steps that are so easily over looked. You have a fabulous looking website but haven’t done anything to shout about it, time for some SEO or social media to promote it. You have a great cafe on the high street, but your staff are a little inconsistent and your opening hours vary – your customers aren’t likely to become advocates based off inconsistency like that.

So take some time, look at your brand and ask yourself if you were the customer, would you meet, like, know and above all trust this product?

Marketing – A Reason to Smile

small smile



Marketing Doesn’t Have To Be A Chore.


Whilst presenting a strategic marketing review back to a client recently we started discussing the target market, this rapidly spiralled into tales and quips about this particular group of people who are familiar to both myself and the client. The great thing about this was that rather than being distracted into a gossip session we actually came up with a whole lot of promotional activities that we knew would work brilliantly as they would engage with the target market and make them laugh.

Marketing doesn’t always have to follow the standard path, of course there’s a place for advertising, social media, print and PR but why not build a series of promotional activities with a sense of humour to put a smile on people’s faces?

Innocent’s Woolly Hat campaign. Ribena’s Win a Donkey or even a small charity I met with recently who had been recruiting student fundraisers with branded pot noodles. All of these activities put a smile on your face, resonate with the target market and above all are memorable.

Being memorable is the key to success, we can shout about our business from the roof top but unless you product a reason for a brand to make it through into your customers long term memory then you may as well not bother spending you money.

But a word of warning, don’t be memorable for the wrong reasons, we all have adverts that we hate, for me it’s an advert on local radio that irritates me so much I change station, Go Compare stays with many people but not for the right reasons, its infuriating and if you’re anything like me, you’ll actively avoid it when seeking out a comparison website

So the next time you’re looking to drive sales, stop, think about who you’re talking to and what would make them laugh and perhaps have some fun devising a different type of marketing activity that might stay with them for a lot longer than a simple press advertisement and will probably make your planning session a whole lot more fun.


Which marketing activity makes you smile? we’d love to know….

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