Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Julius Pankoke who is a content contributor and start-up enthusiast.
Marketing is about relationships, and that’s not some revolutionary concept I came up with myself. It’s a simple truth all of us in marketing had to learn over the years. The days of just getting the customer to buy your product are long gone. It is more about establishing your brand.
People will only appreciate your brand if you manage to establish a relationship with them. In an effort to not become one among a thousand identical pieces about relationship marketing, we will take a look at a very specific target audience: modern Europeans.
So without further a due, here are six ways you can build a lasting relationship with your modern European customers.
1. Identify your audience
There is no way you are going to build any customer relationships without knowing who you are targeting. Different people require different measures in order to attract them to your brand. Since we already have a general idea who we are targeting, let us take a closer look at our audience.
Modern being a relatively vague term, we have to define it for us first. Let’s say modern Europeans are all those with at least a basic understanding of social technology and who use it on a regular basis. Internet being the dominant theme here.
For convenience sake and to avoid a lengthy social analysis, we are going to focus on the group, where those traits are basically a given: the millennials. Aged between 16 to 36 they make up a big part of the European buying power.
Now that we know who we are targeting, we can find out what characterizes them. millennials are creatures of convenience. They consume most of their information via smartphone. Social media plays an extremely big role in their lives.
Contrary to the generation coming before them, self-realisation is usually more important than a monetary career. They put emphasis on a good work-life balance.
Take these characteristics and put them to the side. We are going to apply them at a later date.
2. Put a face on it
Now that we know who we are targeting, we can start building a brand. When hearing the word brand most people think of a logo or a slogan. That is how we perceive the big, established brands. Thinking it’s impossible to establish such a brand, some people don’t even try.
With the generation of the millennials, “branding” changed. That change was the rise of personal branding. An interesting person is groomed to be the face of the brand. It can be your CEO, your Social Media Manager or whoever.
You don’t need a Jobs or a Zuckerberg to use this trend to your advantage. Find someone who is willing to represent your brand to the outside world or do it yourself. This person will now be the face of your social media, of press releases, of videos and so on.
Making your brand something less abstract and more personal will help people to connect to it. They are more likely to engage in conversation with a person, than with a brand logo. This will lead to your customers establishing a relationship to your person/brand through trust and in the best case by actually liking the person behind the brand.
An easy way to find a person that will connect with your target audience is to pick it from itself. A millennial doesn’t need to learn how to speak to millennials.
3. Don’t post and forget
An easy and widely used way to inform and interact with your audience is a branded blog. In it, you can write about all things regarding your brand and/or product. Potential customers can then see that you are a professional in your field.
Sounds easy, right? Well, it is and at the same time isn’t. Writing an interesting piece in one’s field should not pose a big challenge. But even the best piece needs to be put in front of the target audience to show off expertise.
Fortunately, the way millennials consume media, you can use a whole list of social media tools to reach them. Just make sure you stay with it. A single blog post merits multiple posts on multiple platforms. This way you stay present in your customers mind and become a source of useful information for them.
4. Focus on customer retention
Classic marketing invests a majority of resources in acquiring new customers and very little in customer retention. Customer retention means that a customer returns after the initial sales process is complete and shows interest in buying the same product again or a new one.
This ensures a far longer customer life cycle.
Email marketing for example, is a good way to keep millennials interested in your brand. Either an easy registration form in your blog or an opt-in in your registration forms will supply you with the addresses you need. By sending updates, special offers or event news you keep the customer interested and informed. Again, this makes your brand more recognisable and worthwhile in the eyes of your customer.
5. Don’t try to be cool
Be authentic. Please. There is nothing more cringe-worthy than a respected brand trying to hop onto a trend that has nothing to do with them. This is usually the result of well-meaning marketing professionals hunting for new ways of making revenue.
If the trend has nothing to do with your brand, don’t try to force it. It’s the business equivalent of your parents trying to use slang to be cooler. This, at least, is the way it will feel for the millennials you are targeting.
I am not saying, be afraid of new trends. On the contrary. You can leverage trends by using the theme to connect with your audience. For example, There is a big food trend, but your business has nothing to do with food. Instead of overreaching and trying to program a food app, just let your office food habits influence your social media. Pictures of lunch breaks and casual restaurant recommendations will keep you relevant while being low-key about it.
6. Stay engaged
The mortal enemy of any relationship is complacency. This is as true for the relationship with your customers, as it is for interpersonal relationships. Just because something worked in the past, doesn’t mean it will work indefinitely.
In the world of social media, trends come and go in the blink of an eye. If you want to stay relevant in the eyes of your audience you will have to find a way to keep up. Having somebody from your target audience working for you will help with that. Nonetheless, you will have to inform yourself about these things and constantly adapt to the changing world of social media.
An example: for European millennials, travel has become a big trend. You anticipated that, and positioned yourself comfortably in the travel market. Now the food trend arises. If you keep your marketing the way it is you will pass up a lot of potential customers. Instead, just send your millennial social media manager on a few trips and let them create some videos about local cuisine.
By showing your potential customers something they didn’t know, you again will become a professional in their eyes. This leads to trust. Trust equals relationship.
Now that we took all this time to build a relationship with European millennials you might say: “But I have a different target audience.” No problem. The millennials were just a convenient example, I used to prove my point. Just start with point one and adapt the techniques to your target audience. They will still work.
In the end, be a brand that your customers will turn to when seeking advice, entertainment or new products. By being engaged, relevant and professional you will build a relationship that will hold a lifetime.
About the author
Julius Pankoke is content contributor and start-up enthusiast. His areas of expertise are entrepreneurship, business development, and digital marketing. He enjoys both writing and reading good blog articles. With SmartBusinessPlan he currently helps entrepreneurs write excellent business plans.