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3 Best Practices for Build Lasting Customer Relationships Here are three tips for building customer relationships that actually last.

By Claire McKinney Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For business leaders, the shift from traditional direct advertising and marketing of a brand to understanding who, why, when, where and how your brand can appeal to a customer, is huge. Today's jargon is all about customer relationship-building that will last from the first interaction with a brand to the sale, to earning an ambassador for your brand. I know from experience that many CEOs and brand managers are not taking advantage of this new landscape. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

Make sure the relationship isn't one-sided

I once spoke to a group of entrepreneurs, and a photographer explained frustration at not being able to grow her business. She showed me her website, which was a very nice portfolio of her work. She did some interaction on social media, and she was known in a local area of affluent people who used professional photographers on a regular basis.

The photographer's problem was that her relationship with her audience was one-sided. She was showing everyone how good she was at her job. Well, that's nice, but I told her no one cares how great you are at taking pictures — it is assumed that you know how to do your job. They need to understand who you are, what you do, and trust that you are going to take care of them. Customers also want to know what you offer that is unique from all the other picture-takers out there.

Related: The 7 Stages Of Customer Relationship Management

Know your customers to solve their problems

Part of the photographer's problem was that she did not know her customers. In general, my advice is, do not do any target marketing until you have gone through the process of knowing who your customer is. If you don't do this already, you should look up "customer profile sheets" on Google and use a template that includes a photo image of who this person is. You can have as many customer profiles as you want, but it is best to target the most precise audience.

To do this, you need to know a lot about them, including their "pain points," which are the problems they have. Consider what you would want if you were your customer. Would price be an issue? Location? Saving time? Getting help? Do some social listening to see what people are complaining about, or look on Google Trends to see what searches are popular.

Once you have the problems, you can figure out how your business or brand offers the best solutions. Your services need to rise above the competition when it comes to helping your target customers. Knowing who these people are and what they need is critical to your success.

Related: How You Can Build Long Lasting Customer Relationships

Use marketing etiquette

Now that you know who you need to reach and what problems you solve, you can start implementing a marketing plan. Email marketing is considered one of the most successful for generating leads and nurturing customers. However, like life in general, use this strategy with proper marketing etiquette and a plan that won't irritate your leads.

A customer should never feel hounded by a salesperson. Constantly pinging people by email when you are not getting a response can irritate your leads. "Pitch once and follow up twice" is a good rule to follow for sales messaging. Another option is to provide useful content like a newsletter to start engaging a user. However, an email address that you receive through a platform, including your website, is not an open invitation to spam people. A clear "unsubscribe" option should be offered.

In addition, tactics that use language that sounds desperate or confrontational, such as "Are you ever going to respond?" or "I've contacted you repeatedly, and I would appreciate a response," are never a good idea. Subject lines that start with "You are not doing X correctly, we can help" are also not so well-received. Sure, you can create a sense of urgency, but if you cannot truly deliver on your statement, you will lose someone before you even get started.

The overarching premise here is that brands need to listen and understand what customers need. When there were only a few banks, grocery stores, clothing manufacturers, etc., telling people what you offer worked. The shiniest penny could stand out on billboards, in storefronts, on television and more. I don't need to tell you that there are so many options — customers will do their research, and they will demand more. When your business knows what "more" is, you can direct your energies in providing it.

Related: 5 Ways to Build Killer Relationships with Customers

Claire McKinney

CEO of Claire McKinneyPR, LLC

Claire McKinney has been working in PR for 25 years. She has appeared on Today and CSPAN as an expert on publishing, and she travels to speak to audiences about digital and traditional PR. She is an entrepreneur and author, and she will receive an M.S. in digital marketing in May 2022.

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