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The need for ongoing relationships

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One of the three main categories of purchase decisions that we’ve discussed is transactions between parties who already know each other.

You don’t just have relationships with existing customers of course. Many of us, I’m sure, have done business with friends because they happen to know what you do and trust that you will deliver... And then there are others who are just 'aware' of what you do.

Yes it’s brand awareness but now brand awareness is a two-way street. So it’s not just a case of being seen and heard, it's more about helping people now; helping them to get things done or simply to feel good.

Once they become aware, though, you run the risk of becoming quickly forgotten in a world of many many distractions. The more remarkable your offering, however, the less likely that you’ll be forgotten. Even so, the risk between a competitor getting between you and the customer is much greater than it used to be simply because, as we discussed, you have many more competitors than you used to have. One way to get around this is to develop ongoing relationships; but how do we go about developing these?

You may be lucky; the nature of your product or service might already mean you have a natural, regular interaction with your customers. For example, many iPhone users have constant interaction with Apple, giving Apple all the opportunity it needs to sell to their customers at the drop of a hat.

For many of us, though, creating those interactions is a large part of the marketer's job. Unfortunately, in the rush to establish ongoing relationships, we see far too many issues damaging those relationships. Even those who have given you permission to speak to them on an ongoing basis will switch off unless the value you add on each occasion is sufficient to merit their attention. If you don’t add sufficient value, then your communications will suffer the same fate as adverts - they’ll be filtered out and ignored. Here's a perfect example; I signed up for Domino's pizza offers and, even though they do give me special offers I might want, they always seemed to land at the wrong time. So I’ve unsubscribed and they now don’t get to talk to me any more. If, on the other hand, they had found a way of making a special offer to me as I was downloading a film, we would probably still be talking. I don't want them to interrupt me with text that may or may not be timely. I want them to contribute to whatever it is that I am doing anyway; if they can manage that, then they can have an ongoing relationship with me. 

This is what many are seeking to do with blogging, for example; each blog post is an opportunity to build or maintain a relationship - as long as you continue to add value to your reader.  

Of course, an ongoing relationship can be a lot more comprehensive than a blog, and relationship building does not always have to be high-tech. Something as simple as a café loyalty card which sits in my wallet can remind me of an established relationship.

Maintaining a relationship without irritating your audience is no easy challenge. It is no easy feat to add that vital value at every single turn, but if you can get it right the rewards are great. Your ability to communicate with an audience and have your audience listen brings with it another privilege. Complementary companies seeking to work with your audience will begin to approach you, and for that privilege they will be willing to do something for you in return. With these kind of relationships you can become stronger while your competitors are left out in the cold. It all comes down to the 'haves' and 'have nots' of these all-important relationships.

It is a huge mountain to climb to maintain such relationships well but it is an awful lot easier if you monopolise your market as the only people who genuinely do what you do. Which conveniently brings us to a hard question that you need to ask yourself before you put yourself in front of more customers. What is that question!? Jump on to the next video 'Do not pass go, do not collect customers' to find out...

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