People like to buy products and services from people and companies they like. You want to find out what kind of things customers would like you to do for them. I guarantee that this is more than just providing a product, and it isn’t just service. Customers want you to create some type of relationship with them.
- The Coach or Expert Relationship.
A few years ago, Nestlé ran a program in which it prominently displayed a toll-free number on its baby food packaging. Calling the number put parents in touch with a licensed dietician who could answer questions about baby nutrition. The dieticians didn’t push Nestle products; they just offered friendly advice. This toll-free number was the key component of a program that raised Nestlé’s market share from 20 to 30 per cent.
When people are buying a product that is important to them, they want the company they are buying from to be an expert. And they want to be reassured that they are buying the right product. Nestle was establishing itself as an expert with its phone number, and that gave people the assurance they wanted when they bought Nestlé’s baby food.
- The friendly, caring relationship.
When Nintendo first introduced its games, it set up the Nintendo Fun Club that sent out a newsletter discussing tricks for moving from one game level to the next. Nintendo also gave members a toll-free number where they could talk to game counsellors, who gave out free game advice. Nintendo was telling its customers that it wanted them to have fun. That attitude tied right back into its products, and it helped Nintendo generate retail sales of $2billion in just four years.
- Having the same goals as the customer.
Customers like to believe that your goal is to help them. They don’t want to believe that your goal is to take their money. This is why fishing stores run by well-known fishermen usually do well. Customers know that the store owners are interested in catching fish. This is one of the advantages of such tactics as classes, seminars, sponsoring events, and store demonstration areas. They help customers believe that you have the same goals that they do.
- Relationship Marketing.
Establishing a sense of being related is one of the new frontiers of marketing. Customers want you to be helpful, to care about their welfare, and to truly go out of your way to meet their objectives. If you are a management consultant, this could mean holding key positions in industry associations or community groups like the Chambers of Commerce, holding seminars and classes, sponsoring companies in Junior Achievement, and possibly cosponsoring contests for local businesses such as the year’s best entrepreneur. For a tax attorney, this could be having monthly luncheons with key speakers, attending important client events, and holding special training seminars for clients’ employees.