Relationship marketing is about understanding each customer on an individual level. It’s about being smart about the approach and doing mass scale marketing effectively.
Here’s an example. A sporting goods store can ask for the email address of a customer who buys a soccer ball when they check-out at the register, or on-line. They then send them to specific social media pages that create community around soccer through the voice of the store brand. The individual then receives special offers on soccer equipment via email and SMS messages. Through the integration of POS systems, databases and online marketing tools, the store can then flag customers who reach a certain threshold of spending on soccer equipment. Those customers would receive them special “VIP” opportunities like discounted soccer game tickets or special event invitations in conjunction with marketing partners. This solidifies the relationship between the business and the customer, building trust and brand loyalty.
Relationship marketing implies database marketing, high-end dynamic marketing tools, an empowered workforce and leveraging the new social media marketing environment. Questions arise. How can a company evolve from a transactional marketing paradigm to a relationship marketing paradigm? How can digital marketing technology be used to profile an audience better? How can you market to them more directly according to their behavioral profiles?
The First Step Towards a Relationship is Discovery
Examine your current marketing landscape, including but not limited to:
- Marketing department structure, roles and resources
- External resources and tools
- Historic and planned campaigns and marketing initiatives
- Content library
- Analytical tools and data sources
Get an in-depth understanding through subject matter expert interviews on the state of your marketing programs. How do they currently work? How they can work better by having access to a customer’s data? Make an effort to get company leadership in collaborative strategy sessions that level set. Share knowledge about their areas of expertise and gain consensus on the goals. Get ideas, expectations and preconceived notions about relationship marketing for your organization.
The result of the discovery process should be a document that will:
- Define, compare and contrast transactional marketing expectations to relationship marketing expectations relative to your business model and goals.
- Document where you are, where you want to be, and the steps necessary to get there from a big picture/long-term perspective as well as a more tactical 3 – 12 month perspective.
- Document the current marketing landscape from the perspective of a gap analysis.
- Identify opportunities and challenges in order to successfully evolve from a transactional marketing organization to a relationship marketing organization.
Developing a Relationship Marketing Road Map
After the discovery process the next step is applying what you’ve learned to develop a relationship marketing road map. Essentially this is a written strategy and plan that should leverage the understanding and consensus gleaned from discovery,. It should lay out a 6 – 12 month plan to begin the phased evolution from transaction to relationship marketing. It could include, but would not be limited to recommendations and strategies for initiatives such as:
- database analysis and consolidation,
- database profile segmentation,
- marketing and analytic tool integration,
- initial campaigns recommendations and
- strategies to begin relationships in the short-term while moving forward in parallel with segmentation efforts.