Whether you call them customers, clients, or prospects, these people need a reason to engage with — and trust — your business.
It’s no longer enough to send out a bunch of spammy emails and marketing materials that are heavily focused on sales.
Businesses need to show value.
So how can you even begin to communicate this concept? Let’s go through five ways to better serve your customers.
Offer Solutions Without Expectation
Become a resource for your customers instead of another place where they can buy goods and services. Giving away helpful information with the intent of serving your audience won’t harm your company.
So don’t worry about giving away the keys to the castle.
Once your business is known as the “go to source,” the relationship between you and the customer will only get stronger.
Let’s go through a couple of ways to do this.
Let People Take Your Products on a Test Drive
How-to guides, product reviews, and of course, free physical samples give people a chance to see how you can make their lives easier. Providing a solution that they can implement and see immediate results from gives customers a reason to trust your business. Not only that, but they‘re more inclined to keep coming back for more.
Position Yourself as a Trusted Advisor
According to a 2018 study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 73% of marketers created content to educate customers. 68% of marketers from the survey did so to build trust and credibility.
What does this mean? Businesses are communicating with the intent of helping rather than selling.
Once this happens, they’re more likely to not only buy your product or service but also promote it to others through word of mouth marketing.
M. Nick Hajili from the International Journal of Market Research wrote:
“Trust, encouraged by social media, significantly affects intention to buy. Therefore, trust has a significant role in ecommerce by directly influencing intention to buy and indirectly influencing perceived usefulness.”
Know How Your Customers Think
Approaching your marketing strategy with a “customer first” mindset ensures you aren’t wasting time producing irrelevant content that ultimately ignored.
Learn about their main motivators and let that serve as the guide for your future marketing efforts.
There a few ways to do this, but for now, here are two easy ones to help you gain insight into your target market.
Use your current social channels to see what people are saying in real-time. Social media has created the platform for people to talk about what they like and dislike about a brand. Here you’ll find a more relaxed conversation without the filter.
It might sound cheesy, but a good ol’ fashioned survey is a cost-effective method of getting customer feedback. Google Forms, Typeform, and Survey Monkey make it easy to create a questionnaire quickly.
This form of information gathering gives you a sense of what customers want. From there, it becomes easier to tailor your messaging.
Deliver Solid, Informative Content
Real value comes from listening to your audience and giving them what they want. Any content coming from your company must relate to their needs — not what you think they want.
Which is why taking the time to build a solid content marketing plan gives you a clear roadmap to push out relevant content consistently.
This map will be the key to producing educational content that serves your customers.
So what’s the route?
Make Sure the Content Aligns with Business Goals
One thing to remember is that you can’t create a content marketing plan in a bubble.
You’ll need to confer with the sales, marketing, and executive team to ensure that everyone is aligned.
Getting these groups on the same page aids in creating marketing materials that not only provide value but also steer customers through the correct sales path.
Create Topics Customer Will Respond to
While you don’t have a crystal ball (although it would be great if you did), you can look at current trends to build specific themes around your content.
As the year progresses, content can be tweaked based on its relevance to the customer.
Revisit and Update Your Plan
Everything changes. This is why listening to your audience gives you the opportunity to jump in with solutions as the tide shifts.
As you learn more throughout the year, the content calendar will need to be updated to reflect what consumers want.
Taking a proactive approach to content marketing gives companies the ability to pivot and react to what the market is saying quickly.
Avoiding this will make your marketing more reactive and chaotic, potentially damaging your messaging efforts and overall strategy.
Providing Value Through Transparency
Businesses don’t always get it right and mistakes can (and will) happen. How your company handles this mistake will determine whether you retain the customer’s trust or lose it.
Remember, this isn’t just about damage control. It’s about taking responsibility for the company’s product and taking care of the customer.
Acknowledging your missteps — instead of avoiding them — reinforces to the customer that they matter to your business.
Bring People Into the Conversation
Talking to people within an echo chamber is both impersonal and isolating. Treating your audience — and talking to them — like human beings gives them a reason to connect with your business.
Some of the ways to have a genuine, two-sided conversation with your customers include:
Not Leaving Them Hangin’
Whether people are reaching out through social media, email or snail mail, you have to give them a response. Even if the conversation is less than ideal. The worst thing a company can do to customers is ignore them.
Empathizing with Your Audience
Every conversation with your customer is an opportunity to make an impact. Listen to their concerns and stories about how your brand impacts their lives. More importantly, show them that you care about how they feel.
Be Open to Feedback
People buying your products can offer suggestions and improvements that no one on your team may not have considered. Every idea or opinion may not bear fruit, but there might be a diamond in there that sparks a new way to enhance the customer’s experience.
Remember: your audience wants to see the human side of the business at every touchpoint and in every conversation.
Make it easy for them to do that.
While the ultimate goal is to increase revenue, businesses can cultivate a positive, value-driven relationship with customers.
Gaining their trust begins and ends with being a company who listens and offers solutions from a genuine place of service — not sales.
Businesses who base their marketing strategy around value find the road to gaining new customers and brand loyalists much shorter.