If you’re at all in tune with the “information marketing” philosophy we promote here, you’re already building relationships with your customers and potential customers. You provide them with helpful information; demonstrate your knowledge of their needs; and deliver straight answers to questions rather than pumped-up claims. These are things people trust and appreciate.
But ongoing, multiple contact points are essential. Even if you’ve made a great impression on someone in February, by August, when they’re ready to buy, you may have slipped their minds. Of course, that’s when your competition happens by and snags the sale..
The trick is to keep yourself top-of-mind with your customers as much as possible.
The more often you make contact, the more likely that is. It’s also more likely that you’re in touch when they’re ready to make the decision to buy.
Here are three top techniques.
Use an autoresponder to quickly build loyalty and name recognition
By offering your website visitors an opportunity to receive a free course, tutorial, or series of articles, you can keep your company in their in-boxes (and in their minds) for a period after their initial contact.
An autoresponder allows you to set up a series of emails to be delivered at set intervals over a period of time – such as once a day for a week, or once a week for a month.
This can help you build relationships in two ways. First, you’re providing them with free information of value to them. And second, they’re being reminded of your help (and your presence) regularly over a period of time.
Let’s say you’re researching mountain bike forks, and one of the websites you visit offers a free 7-day course on setting up and tweaking your fork for maximum performance. As you continue your research, you’re receiving daily, helpful information from this particular company. That can’t help but factor into your decision.
Offer a newsletter and forge strong relationships with customers in the long run
Newsletters have proven their worth during decades of use, going back to typed and mimeographed sheets sent through the mail. Among other advantages, newsletters establish your credibility; provide something of value to customers, and make you a regular part of your customers’ lives.
Print newsletters still have a place; when so many of us are chained to the computer all day, finding one in your morning mail might be a welcome accompaniment for your morning coffee.
But email distribution means you can provide newsletters in various formats, including a self-contained, formatted e-zine; an email introduction to a number of stories – with links to full stories on a website; a pdf newsletter for reviewing on screen or separate printing, or even a video newsletter.
The key here is to provide value. While letting people know about upcoming deals or new products will be appreciated, don’t make this a flyer. Your intent is to address their needs, not yours.
If you’re set up to blog on your website and you’re already blogging regularly, offer visitors the opportunity to subscribe to your posts. This is probably the easiest way to publish a regular “newsletter”.
Let your customers create their own community with a forum
If your product or service warrants it, you might consider offering a forum on your website. A technical product might be suited to a user group which discusses tweaks and customization. A home builder might be willing to answer questions and engage in discussions with customers.
You build a group of customers or potential customers engaged with your product or service and engaged with you.