Are you finding that your loyalty or relationship marketing program is losing power? Are you finding it hard to fill your newsletters with relevant content? Are you looking for ideas on how to revamp your program?
If you’re like many of the brands I work with, you might be worried about the return from your relationship marketing investment and asking yourself what to do next. So I’ve summarized some of the advice I provide clients to build next-generation relationship-building programs and communications.
Pay off claims you make in brand advertising
Base advertising communicates your positioning and key product claims, but it doesn’t afford the time or space to deliver deeper support for those claims. Relationship marketing provides the chance to go beyond restating the base claims to deliver an invested reader deep proof about your advertised claims. Seeing the same base ad again won’t advance a buyer’s relationship with your brand. Don’t worry about being too technical or scientific. Even if people don’t read or fully understand the details you provide, research shows that being exposed to information enhances believability about the brand claims.
Provide validation that your brand was the right choice
We all want to make good purchase decisions. Research shows that once people have made a decision they often look to validate their choice, even ignoring evidence to the contrary. Have you ever purchased something and continued your research in the category until you were satisfied with your choice? Relationship communications are a great vehicle to satisfy this “post-purchase” need to validate a decision. Tell people they were smart for purchasing your brand. This will help them become more strongly committed to their choice – your brand.
Write to your core customers who are familiar with your brand and the category
People who agree to receive your communications are special. They typically include some of your heaviest most loyal buyers who already have a strong affinity for your brand and fully understand the benefits it provides. Relationship communications should be focused on connecting with these buyers. Speak to them directly. Describe the product as they appreciate it. Respect their experience in the category. Newer, lower volume buyers will respect this approach. The reverse is not true.
Next generation relationship marketing will tell more brand-based stories. Too many programs load their newsletters and communications with unbranded content that doesn’t differentiate the brand or educate readers more deeply about the product. Buyers will become more committed to your brand if you provide them with a variety of stories that differentiate your brand from competition. Tell stories in the interest of the reader, using hooks and visuals that make it easier for people to engage with and remember your stories.
Inspire people to use your product
Your product improves the lives of buyers. Yet too many relationship marketing programs don’t tap into the insights that form the basis of the brand-buyer relationship. Some brands even instruct readers how to change their bad behaviors to improve their lives instead of using the product. Recognize that your product solves a problem or fills a need. Define the basis of the relationship you want buyers to have with your brand. Then guide your team to inspire the lives of readers and generate those feelings in your newsletters.
Position offers and promotions in ways that build brand equity
Product savings are often a prominent component of relationship marketing programs. But straight discount offers can destroy the relationship a buyer has with a brand. Consumers quickly calculate a new reference price for the product and often reset the price-value equation for the brand. Instead, try offering something for free. The concept of reciprocity is a strong motivator. If you can’t offer something for free, provide a good reason for offering a discount to a good customer. When framing the offer, ask yourself if you’re leaving a consumer with a negative feeling about brand equity or a positive feeling that builds the relationship.