Relationship Marketing is Even More Important in our Information Overloaded and Cynical World

I notice that I’m often a victim of information overload. And I must confess that I sometimes feel I’m becoming more and more cynical. Do you ever feel the same way?

I want to share some thoughts with you about how I think the information age and a growing cynicism in our country make it even more important than ever for conscious business owners to nurture and nourish their existing customers or clients.

Let’s first take a look at Information Overload.

I think we all agree that today, more than ever, we are inundated with marketing messages on every turn. As soon as we wake up in the morning and sit down to breakfast, we see them on our cereal boxes. Traveling to work, they’re on the radio and on the billboards, buses and trains.

We are bombarded with marketing messages from everywhere.

Add to the barrage of marketing messages our “hyper-connectivity.” We’ve got cell phones, I-Pods, email, instant messaging, teleseminars, webinars, forums, chats, blogs, my space, your space, their space. It’s a frenzy!

It’s incredible that we have all of these avenues to stay connected and informed, thanks to the scores of advanced technologies. The Internet is an amazing tool that all people everywhere can use to make themselves better informed, richer, smarter, prettier, sexier and any other ‘er’ you can think of.

More marketing messages. More to take in. More connection. More choices.

Let’s take a look at Cynicism now.

I see cynicism as a first cousin to information overload. While we’re all on the treadmill of life, trying to survive and stay a step ahead if we can, we are also taking in new information, new technology, new war atrocities, new technologies and more and more information to process.

Every single day, there’s more bad news. Every single day, there’s more technology and more and more to absorb and ferret out.

And, let’s face it; while the Internet is wonderful in so many ways, it is also a vehicle for some pretty unscrupulous characters. So, we all have to be hyper-vigilant in our discerning process. Who can we trust? Who do we buy from?

When we consider the consumer distrust and an ever-increasing distrust in our government, we have a quagmire of cynicism that’s sucking the last bit of trust out of people everywhere, leaving us feeling pretty jaded, I believe.

“Yeah, right. Prove it. And even if you offer proof, why should I believe you?”

This is the spoken or unspoken feeling that most, if not all, of us operate with today. It’s a sad commentary, but burying our collective business/marketing heads in the sand won’t make it go away.

So, what can businesses do today to communicate and touch customers in a way that will genuinely demonstrate to them (in a way they can feel) that we really understand them and that we care?

Big question, isn’t it?

Well, we can wring our hands and say it shouldn’t be so hard. And we can agonize over how much money we must spend to get a new customer nowadays. Or, we can put our creative heads together and come up with a better way.

And what would that better way be? I think that one good answer lies in meaningful relationship marketing to your invaluable, existing customers or clients.

If you, as a business owner, want to capture your fair market share … you need to nourish your existing customers as the precious asset they are. And stop the churn.

Instead of nurturing customers they already have and keep them, many businesses spend 80% of their marketing budget, going after new customers.

It’s estimated to cost 6 times more to sell to a new customer than to sell the very same thing to an existing customer. Isn’t that incredible?

For most businesses, 80% of sales come from only 20% of their customers. Is that true of you as well? Repeat customers spend over 30% more than new customers spend. And referrals from repeat customers spend over 100% more than new customers.

Statistics show that 70% of lost business in the U.S. is lost, due to the customer being ignored after the sale. Do you ignore your customers this way?

It seems clear to me that many business owners are stepping over a gold mine to get to something that may or may not pan out. It’s always a smart idea to spend some of your marketing budget to find new customers. But forgetting your existing customers — that’s not smart at all.

What can we do to ensure we are keeping the customers we’ve worked so hard to get? Here are some ideas:

1. Stay in touch with your customers, using email, surveys, special offers and new products that will genuinely benefit them.

2. Offer a very fair price for incredible value.

3. Extend your irresistible offers in a clear, concise way and make it easy to order.

4. Whenever possible, provide a 100% no-risk guarantee.

5. Provide unsurpassed customer service.

6. Stay in touch after the sale to ensure they’re happy with their purchase. And ask them what you can do better or different that would serve them.

7. Send thank you notes, via email or even snail mail for an ‘extra’ surprise.

8. Remember them on birthdays, if appropriate.

You can make sure your product/service is more than just a commodity, by keeping your existing customers happy and letting them know you genuinely care about them.

In conclusion, I believe our sound-bite society, with an attention deficit brought about by information overload, and a growing cynicism greatly contributes to a lack of trust and loyalty as well.

Developing trust and loyalty is a long-term effort, which starts after the very first sale and goes on forever. Just do it right, and you’ll be well served by continued purchases and referral business.

If you calculate the lifetime value of a customer, and determine that it represents a good deal of money to you, by all means do the smart thing (which will be the right thing, too) and nurture and nourish that customer like you would a valued friend.