Let’s do a short public relations checkup on your business. First, take a quick inventory of your current PR and marketing activities. These activities may include news releases, your blog, e-books, white papers, research reports, newsletters, sales letters, Web videos, social media marketing, etc.
Of those activities:
1) What portion is dedicated to attracting new business?
2) What portion is dedicated to keeping your current customers happy?
If you answered 50-50, you’re golden! But what if your answer was 75-25% or even 100-0%?
It is an understandable mistake to focus one’s PR efforts entirely upon the front end of the sales cycle. After all, as a marketer, it is your job to bring in the business. But if you are not cultivating your existing customer relationships through your PR program, you might as well be pouring water into a bucket with holes in the bottom.
A customer relations program is an essential element to your overall public relations and marketing plan. Let’s take an example of a fictitious organization, Atlantis Credit Union, to explain this concept:
Atlantis Credit Union has invested a great deal of resources into its member leads program. (Credit unions, in contrast to banks, have “members” not “customers.”) But Atlantis also realizes that its members are its number one asset because if they are thrilled with its programs and services, they will refer the credit union to family and friends. Therefore, in order to cultivate its member relationships, Atlantis has created a multi-stage “member relationship” program.
1) When members are new, they are given a personalized consultation with a financial management expert. This expert gives them a package of resources including a short book that describes the various ways to take advantage of their services. It is not the expert’s job to “up-sell” the member, but to listen and address her specific needs, while helping her make informed money management decisions.
2) Since this new member has a small business, she is invited to join an exclusive Facebook group made up of other Atlantis members who post questions about any topic related to managing a small business. And since these members are local, they can assist each other with localized recommendations and referrals. An Atlantis financial expert monitors the discussions and contributes input as needed. Again, it is not the expert’s job to up-sell, as that would erode trust, not build it.
3) The member has been involved with Atlantis for three months. She is invited to attend a special member-only seminar about preparing for tax season.
4) Six months later, the member receives a personal phone call from the expert she met upon first joining the credit union. About a week ago she noticed that there was an error on her statement, but never got around to calling it in. She brings up her concern with the expert and he fixes it immediately. She knows Atlantis Credit Union cares about her experience and she is not just a number to them.
There are hundreds of ways you can add value to your customers’ experience. By showing them not only do you care, but that you are also an advocate for their business, will earn you valuable trust and a potential lifetime of future business and referrals.