4-min read
May 4, 2023

Marketers Need to Build Relationships with Their Customers. Here’s Why — and How

Oana Filip

Marketers need to get closer to buyers, talk to them, listen to their needs, and drive actions that genuinely help people solve a specific problem.

The 2010s was an era where companies put the pedal to the metal and showed us how the world wide web could transform regular businesses into unicorns.

Marketing, for better and worse, heavily impacted the rhetoric. People obsessed over the new kid on the digital block: growth marketing.

This strategy includes a collection of marketing concepts that, put together, promises to accelerate traction and, of course, revenue. 

TLDR; More data = better decisions = more cash.

But here’s the rub: everyone’s doing it. So what does it take to make your brand stand out?

Why should brands tip the scales from growth marketing to relationship building?

In a time when their customers have dozens of alternative options, brands cannot afford to be purely transactional in their attitude. 

Marketers must show up and get closer to the buyers, talk to them, listen to their needs, and drive actions that genuinely help people solve a specific problem.

They need to think about building relationships with customers and prospects that are based on transparency and care.

When done right, it can reap numerous benefits for your brand:

  • Better word-of-mouth marketing: customers will start to naturally behave like believers who amplify your company's message and create buzz when you launch something important, without you pushing it or creating any gamification system.
  • Evergreen feedback loop: when customers have strong relationships with marketers, they feel safe and that their voice is heard, making them authentic and transparent ​​about their expectations.
  • Going beyond the persona: marketers can move beyond the hypothetical persona and create content and campaigns that address specific pain points and provide solutions that they know their customers need help with.
  • Gaining testimonials and customer reviews: it’s easier for marketers to get valuable social proof from customers that will help your brand highlight how it helps real people in their work and lives.

Relationship building is a long game that focuses on cultivating trust, building confidence, and enhancing appreciation for your brand.

6 tips for marketers to build better relationships with customers

1. Conduct 1:1 interviews

Convince your fans (aka those customers who have a great experience with your product) to give you 30 minutes for a call where you can discover their pains while using your product. Listen more than you talk, take notes, and debrief later with the stakeholders. 

What’s in it for them? Some ways to make them interested in the call are by giving them a discount, early access to new products or features, or showing them that their input shapes the product (so long as it actually does that!).

2. Have a beta list for launches

Keep the customers who are veterans or simply the right persona (regardless of the lifetime value) in the loop and grant them early access to an upcoming feature or new product. By doing so you will manifest openness and eagerness to build with your customers, not only for your customers. This will make the brand more humane and will increase awareness of it within the industry.

3. Design an ambassador program

Amplify the current relationships with your A-list customers and invite them to be part of a coherent ambassador program. Design your program so that their involvement isn’t just an empty PR push — their input matters, and the program matches business goals.

👉 Not sure how to get started with an ambassador or champions program? We’ve got you covered. Read our post to understand how to build your program and design its purpose.

4. Run relevant surveys and polls

Ask your users what pains your product still needs to cover and which areas could be improved. Ensure you address their feedback, whether that means following up on it or being transparent that it's not an immediate priority. Never leave people hanging or confused about their input, because it will create a bad precedent for upcoming occasions. Communication and transparency are better than a lack of response.

5. Co-create with customers

Involve your customers and community in your communication and marketing efforts and create an environment where co-creation flows naturally. You can do that by inviting people to pack their insights into stories and publish on the blog, run events on their own under the brand’s umbrella, or ask for their specific expertise concerning a topic that is relevant for the community. This way, customers will feel like they’re part of the playground. As a bonus, they can bring valuable perspectives which you would not have known otherwise.

6. Celebrate together

Involve your customers when you mark important milestones and make them part of your story. Transforming business victories into community victories facilitates belongingness. You can start by listing the A-customers on a digital ‘wall of fame’, creating a dedicated space of celebration within the community, or inviting them to share their narratives as people who supported the brand and helped turn it into what it is today.

In a world where we crave more human-centric organizations, learning how to create and foster authentic liaisons is a game changer. People take notice of how they’re treated at every step of the customer journey. Organizations that nurture honest relationships will shape their industries by having a substantial competitive advantage that will guarantee a top-of-mind positioning in the long haul.

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