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Relationship Marketing: It's the "Little Things"

Relationship Marketing: It's the "Little Things"

Terry Brock

“All politics is local.” Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Former Speaker of US House of Representatives, 1977-1987

I recently went to a convention of the National Speakers Association which was held this year in the Phoenix, Arizona area. The property where we stayed was the Marriott Desert Ridge. I have stayed in about 4 billion hotels (seems like that many sometimes!) in my career traveling around the world speaking and coaching. I’ve seen many good hotels and a few I’d rather not visit even if I have to stand up all night outside!

This visit to the Marriott Desert Ridge was particularly pleasant for me. I enjoyed the way the Marriott attended to so many things that go into making a week-long stay enjoyable. They certainly have done their homework on this one.

Yet, it was interesting that last night, as I had dinner with some friends who also attended, they were hesitant to echo my praise of the property. No, they didn’t have a horror story about the hotel. The comments were about the $18 per glass price charge for some of the wines. Because of that, when I asked the pointed question (as we journalists are prone to do at times) “Would you recommend it for others?” the answer I got from a friend brought a long pause before her answer.

Interesting.

Very interesting indeed. One little experience or incident can change everything. Tip O’Neill was right that in the field of politics. It is all “local.” I’d use the word personal. When a constituent gets help from a representative to get grandma’s social security problem fixed, that constituent becomes a raving fan for the rep. It doesn’t matter that others will cite numerous logical, intellectually-based reasons why that rep is not worthy of re-election. All that matters to that constituent is that the rep helped his grandmother in a time of need. We take what happens to us personally.

As an example, in the current debate on health care, listen to how many arguments are based on personal examples. In the macro scheme, what happened to one person really shouldn’t affect overall policy. Yet, what happened to one person who was denied health care for lack of insurance strongly affects the way a person believes.

You can use all the logic and reason you want to support or rail against a particular policy but that won’t matter to most people.

This same principle relates to you and me in our business. We can do almost everything right in our interaction with and association with customers. Yet, if they have one, tiny little thing go wrong – a thing that is important to them – they will deride you and say bad things. They’ll go on and on about the one thing they didn’t like rather than citing all the things that went right.

My friend cited the $18 per glass wine (which she said wasn’t that good of a wine) and didn’t mention a word about the hot water being fine in the shower, the beds were made just right, the food in the cafes was great and more. Even though I enjoyed the experience greatly, this one issue mattered to her.

Here are a few quick points that can help you and your business as you deal with issues like this:

1. Relationship Marketing Is Not Always Logical. It is about emotions and how people feel. Do whatever you can within reason to make them happy. Even a loss in one area can be overcome with the lifetime value of a customer who will buy from you and encourage others to buy from you. Make it your goal to keep them happy – not convince with logic and reason that you are right.

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2. Put Systems In Place To Quickly Correct Minor Problems. This is where the hard work comes into play. Think through those myriad of experiences your customers encounter. How can you tweak and improve them? Develop documented systems that address these important issues.

3. Ask Your Customers And Take Good Notes To Share With Your People. This goes beyond asking them to fill out a form. Talk with them. Pick up the phone and chat. Don’t rely on email, or social networking tools alone to find out what they thought. As you probe into their desires and needs related to your product or service you’ll reap a bountiful treasure trove of information that can help you become more profitable.

By the way, after I asked my friend if she would recommend it to another, she eventually answered yes. The experience we all had at the Marriott Desert Ridge was delightful and I would consider it one of my best (after those 4 billion visits I’ve had to hotels!!). Find out what items can be adjusted in your business. Find out where you could make minor changes at low or no cost to you that enhance the experience for your customers.

Relationship Marketing is a wonderful on-going process of making sure we address the way people feel about doing business with us. Yes, all politics is local and all customer experiences are personal. Make it your goal to enhance that personal experience in your Relationship Farming to keep them coming back – and ordering more “wine” at your business.


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