Get Your Customers to Love You

Since we discussed “marketing sins” yesterday, today my thoughts turned to religion (sort of).

Many years ago, when I was working for the Direct Marketing Association, I attended the Nonprofit Conference in New York. At the event, charities and other nonprofits shared stories and strategies they used to raise money for their causes.

Build Connections

One story in particular stuck out. A Catholic school wanted to raise money to support the school and other charitable work. So, they sent out a fundraising letter from the head of the school (we’ll call him Father Xavier).

Standard stuff, but this had a different twist. Included with the letter was a note printed in a font that looked like Father Xavier’s handwriting. It also included a copy of a picture of him with Pope John Paul II.

The response was overwhelming. People not only sent donations, they also returned the photos, with notes thanking the priest for sharing it.

Develop a Genuine Relationship

The people who got that letter felt such a strong connection to the school that they thought the letter had been sent to them personally.

Marketing (says Seth Godin) is “just like dating. It turns strangers into friends and friends into lifetime customers. Many of the rules of dating apply, and so do many of the benefits. A marketer goes on a date. If it goes well, the two of them go on another date. And then another. Until, after ten or twelve dates, both sides can really communicate with each other about their needs and desires.”

If you communicate, you’ll get friends, and lifetime relationships. If you shout, talk about yourself, or don’t listen, you’ll get enemies.

Photo: suchitra

5 Benefits of Building an Online Community

online community mapRemember yesterday’s post about the worst marketing email ever? The marketer who framed his pitch in terms of what he’d get (a great vacation) and offered his customers a measly $25 gift card in return for their referrals?

What if he’d built a community instead? According to Marketing Sherpa (7/2/09), creating a place where your customers can interact with each other (as well as with you) can have unexpected benefits.

Benefit #1: Better Customer Support

Depending on your business, you can offer additional documentation, a Q&A forum, or tips on how to use your product. Imagine a design studio that explained ways to save money on logo design costs, or a videographer who offered a checklist of the top ten questions you should ask before you hire her (or anyone else).

Benefit #2: Advance Community Input on New Products

The ability to ask community members to review early-stage new products, essentially building your own set of beta testers. You can match features with needs, and steer clear of offerings that nobody wants.

Benefit #3: Encourage Contributions

Allowing members to share how they use your product. Let members post their own questions (and answer them). You can also step in and offer helpful advice (skip the sales pitch, just solve problems).

Benefit #4: Look Good to Search Engines

Regular updates boost your site’s search engine ranking, and generate keyword-rich content.

Benefit #5: Fill the Sales Pipeline

The interaction allows prospects to learn more about your company and your products in a friendly environment. This will boost trust, increase your credibility, and generate leads.

Build the relationship first, then you can ask for the sale.