Running a successful business today means much more than creating memorable advertising jingles and having big sales every few months. Today's business owner must connect with customers on a two-way street of communication and marketing where social media and personal interaction take center stage.
An essential piece of the puzzle is creating long-lasting relationships with customers, and there are several steps you should take to build those connections.
Business is Personal Again
Some businesses operate in a very professional environment where office buildings, classy suits, and lunch meetings are a daily occurrence. Other businesses exist in a world where "everybody knows your name," and customers are the same as friends.
In today's competitive business environment, it's important for all businesses to create personal relationships with clients whether normal business hours take place in a high rise, a home office, or Main Street, USA.
Fox Business spoke to several successful business owners, and this is what one of them had to say:
"I don't believe in separating business relationships from personal relationships. When my team works with a client, we really try to get to know the team well, go out to drinks. It's nice to work with people whom you like both professionally and personally, and it helps in creating long-term bonds."
With the popularity of social media, cultivating personal relationships has become much easier, particularly with the back-and-forth communication with clients on websites like Facebook.
Communicate Often with Clients and Partners
Your business network is a patchwork of business partners, clients, friends, and similar businesses, and it's essential to maintain communication with as many of those connections as possible.
The short attention spans of customers and just about everyone else in business today means a few months without contact feels like a few years. Creating a schedule for marketing and communication means never letting relationships grow stale or become forgotten.
According to Entrepreneur:
"Relationships have a short shelf life. No matter how charming, enthusiastic or persuasive you are, no one will likely remember you from a business card or a one-time meeting. One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they come home from networking events and fail to follow up."
Frequent communication and follow-ups are important whether you're attending a business event where you may make new professional connections, or you're attending an industry show where you may interact with future customers. The key for these communications is that they should be done in a personal way.
Don't send off a follow-up email to a "dear sir." Send it with a personal greeting. Even if your email is a simple professional communication, personal details will strengthen the long-term relationship you're building with that contact.
Social Media and Email Helps Small Businesses on a Budget
One of the frequently touted benefits of social media marketing campaigns is that they're available to virtually every business whether that business is a huge international corporation or a small business run out of someone's garage.
Social media doesn't require a huge investment of time, and most businesses spend around one to five hours a week with about a quarter spending six to ten hours a week. A survey conducted by Social Media Examiner reveals:
"Thirty-three percent of study respondents report that they devote 1 to 5 hours weekly to social media marketing; however, a robust 25% spend 6 to 10 hours each week."
If your business is run on a shoestring budget, social media is one of the best options you have to cast a wide net for new customers, employees, and business connections. Social media can eclipse the benefit of traditional advertising because of its personal nature. An advertisement on a billboard, a bus seat, or the radio is a great way to spread the word, but social media is the best way to spread the word in a personal manner.
Build a Reputation for Honesty and Commitment
Imagine you own a company that sells vital components for a machine. When your clients place orders, they need on-time delivery to ensure they can keep to their manufacturing schedule, make their deadlines, and fulfill orders. As a business owner, it's essential that you deliver on time, every time, whether you're fulfilling orders for complex machinery or you're selling simple gifts from a tourist shop on Main Street.
"'Your word is your bond' should be a guiding principle in all of your client relationships. When you say you’re going to do something, there should be no questions in your client’s mind that this might not be true. By committing to a deadline, you relieve the client of the worry that a vital product or service might not be ready in time to meet his or her needs. That freedom from worry builds trust and clients prefer sticking with a business they can trust, rather than waste time looking for someone else."
It doesn't matter whether your clients are other businesses or general consumers. Everyone wants to get their order on time, and they want a product that's reliable and works as promised. The best way to build and maintain relationships with current customers is to deliver what you'll say you'll deliver each time someone puts in an order or makes a purchase.
Create a Unique and Personal Brand
Successful business owners recognize the need for a particular service or product and fill that void by creating a business. It's quite rare that a business is the only one of its kind (although it does happen sometimes), and it's essential that businesses create a unique brand that's easily recognizable.
Likeable Media shares:
"Establishing a solid brand identity that definitively separates you from competitors is critical to successfully shaping your brand’s personality."
Building long-term relationships with customers means making sure those customers recognize your brand even when it's compared to other businesses that sell virtually identical items or provide similar services. Bolstering the recognition customers have at seeing your company's brand means employing features like personalized boxes from Howard Packaging.
Everyone knows that they've gotten a delivery from Amazon when they see a box with that familiar curved arrow on it. Personalized packaging can help your business build its unique and personal brand. Help get your customers excited when they see a box come in the mail, and it has your company's logo or name on it.
Interested in Sustainable Custom Packaging?
Help your business stand out from the crowd with custom packaging from Howard Packaging. Custom packaging is an incredible tool for marketing your brand and building long-term customer relationships, and our custom packaging solutions offer your business an affordable way to boost your sales all year long.
If your business is interested in using modern packaging solutions that reduce your company's impact on the environment, let us know! Find out what we can do for your business with our sustainable packaging options. Request a Free Catalog and Sample Kit Today!