Hook, Ears and Eyes: Using Blogs to Build Business Relationships with your Customers

By J. Dean Spence

Are you trying to improve or ignite relationships with existing and/or new customers? Blogs—your eyes, ears and hook—can help you do that.

Connecting with customers is essential to modern marketing. To state the obvious, a business must have healthy relationships with its customers. The foundation of your relationship with those customers is your promise, your promise to create value in the form of quality products and/or services that will improve the lives of customers. If you deliver this promise, the result will be a relationship strengthened by customer satisfaction and loyalty.

But this relationship is not one-sided. Customer value is what they get from your products and/or services and what they have to give to attain it. From the organization’s perspective, the relationship only has value if the revenue from customers is greater than the organization’s cost of attracting, selling, and servicing them.

To make the promise that launches this auspicious relationship, a business needs to know its customers. It needs to know how to satisfy them. And to do this you should ask them what they want, listen, and then deliver. Because customer satisfaction is indicative of the health of your relationship with your customers, it is imperative that you find the answers to these questions. How? Through surveys, focus groups and other research techniques, and especially social listening including your blog. Your blog is an extension of your eyes and ears. Much of the information you need to maintain healthy relationships with your customers is available at low cost to you through your owned media. And because of the dialogical nature of blogs, you may not even need to directly ask your customers what they want—they will tell you. Listen!

So-called “relationship marketing” focuses on improving current customer relationships rather than acquiring new customers. That may be fine, for example, for a high-end wine producer with select clientele, but most business need to nurture existing customer relationships and continually find new customers. Blogs can help you hook those new customers.

A business must aim to make potential customers aware of it, and turn them into first time buyers. Then the business must cultivate this emerging relationship by continually delivering excellent products and/or services so that customers become repeat customers. (Indeed, happy and repeat customers indicate strong relationships.) Your dream customer is someone who becomes a brand advocate, who will endorse your products and/or services without being asked to. Better yet, if the advocate has a large following on social media you will have an influencer in your corner. This person is so happy with the relationship he has with your business he’ll shout about it (possibly to millions) from the rooftops.

How do blogs fit into this? As a blog becomes more successful and attracts more people regularly, the blogger’s ethos grows accordingly. The blogger will attract potential customers by, at the very least, providing useful content and creating a sense of community. If the blogger’s area of expertise is, for example, plumbing equipment, his growing audience will think of his business when they have a leaky faucet or damaged pipes. Potential or existing customers will look for the blogger to answer questions, to offer advice, and for the blogger’s business to sell them the products and/or services they need.

Blogging can be the start of a beautiful relationship.

(Next week, I will continue this discussion, highlighting specific relationship-building strategies that businesses can use to strengthen customer relationships and how you can use them in your company blog.)

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