Before you get started with appreciation marketing, we’ll be glad to provide some basic definitions. What is appreciation marketing? Simply put, it translates to building long-term customer loyalty by encouraging a personal relationship with each individual or business you serve.
That means that the goal of appreciation marketing is to gain customer loyalty. Research shows us that the main reason customers leave a long-term supplier is very simple yet serious: they don’t believe the supplier cares.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has found that one of the main reasons businesses lose customers is the perception that staff members don’t care about their customers.
In fact, according to one SBA poll, close to 70 percent of respondents said their perception that staff did not care about their business or their needs led them to try working with a competing business. Dissatisfaction with products or services sold was not nearly as important—by a wide margin.
Translation? The biggest reason we lose customers is that they don’t feel appreciated.
Appreciation marketing: Show you care
The goal of appreciation marketing is to build customer loyalty through a long-term relationship with your customers. It’s far more powerful than hard selling. The reason is that this approach is customer-centric and focused on the customer’s needs, not the seller’s.
It starts with the recognition that customers are people just like you. That means they want to know you care about their success and well-being, and they also want to be assured you know them as individuals. When they feel a connection to you, they are more likely to trust you and, by extension, to buy from you.
A strategic approach to building personal relationships
You’ve probably heard or read about the tools that can successfully help you build a closer relationship with your customers, including hand-written thank-you notes sent after a sale. Others include:
- follow-up phone calls placed a week or two after a deal closes to ensure things are working as expected
- white papers and email messages to help customers deal with the issues they encounter most frequently
- small gifts
- coupons for your own company’s products or services or another’s
But what’s more important is implementing an appreciation-marketing strategy for your company, a strategy that your marketing, sales and fulfillment departments—indeed, all of your employees—can fully buy into.
The process has to begin with the understanding that customers stay with a supplier who recognizes their needs and responds to them as individuals, not as a mass market waiting for mass sales pitches.
Your sales staff needs to be trained to identify customers’ specific and individual needs. In seeking feedback and in communicating regularly with customers, your team should conduct itself in a way designed to address needs, not sell more products. This is the embodiment of the customer-centric approach.
Sales staff also need a defined program for continually engaging with customers and building upon relationships with them. They need a schedule for sending a thank-you note after a sale, and a reminder about following up later with an email or a phone call. They need to know which words will be most effective when used in hand-written notes, emails and text messages.
Finally, they need to know how to solicit feedback from customers about your products or services. Not only can you use this information to improve your offerings, it can also be valuable for strengthening the connections your company shares with its customers.
Integrate appreciation marketing into your strategy
Customers are the life-blood of your business. Use appreciation marketing to show them how important they are to you with a plan that is integrated into your marketing strategy, and watch your customer loyalty and retention grow.
Contact our team at The Appreciation Agency for more specific advice on your strategy.