In business and in life, relationships are everything. And, how effectively you build and nurture relationships with your target audiences can determine your organization’s ability to grow a talented team, build a strong brand, gain exposure in priority markets, impact the bottom line and establish customer loyalty.
From your core buyer personas to media gatekeepers, the strength of the relationships you build with different audiences is invaluable.
Even your organization's relationship with its competittion matters. The article Why You Should Make Your Competitors Your Frenemies, by Mark Suster (@msuster), dives into the benefits of "frenemies" in more detail, including this quote to summarize the basics: "... it is unbecoming of you to belittle your competition in front of us or in front of customers. You look a far bigger person when you show a healthy (and not artificial) respect for them."
Evaluate Audiences Most Relevant to Marketing & Sales
In Section 2 of the Marketing Score assessment—Audiences—respondents are asked to rate the strength of existing relationships with the audiences most pertinent to their organization. While not all of the included audiences will apply to every company, consider how each plays a role in the success of your business, and the activities that are designed to cultivate stronger relationships with these groups.
- Analysts: While relationships with industry and business analysts may not be a focus for all organizations, for those within the financial and technology sectors, these relationships are crucial for gaining exposure and credibility with coverage, reports and reviews. Analysts are generally seen as unbiased and research driven, and for many organizations, coverage means you’re a main player in your market.
- Bloggers: The rising influence of the blogosphere on search, social and brand advocacy, has made relationships within the blogging community important. Reputable bloggers are now revered by many as a main source for breaking news, industry trends, thought-leadership, consumer reviews and more. And, as we all know, a blogger relationship gone-bad can really damage a company’s reputation, such as the case of Nestle vs. Mommy Bloggers.
- Competitors: Establishing a positive relationship with your competitors can translate to networking with peers, thought leadership opportunities, and even mutually beneficial business partnerships. Say your office is at capacity with client work, or has an opportunity to work with a client in complex industry. If you're unable to take on the new project, or lack internal expertise to efficiently provide services, passing it off to an agency you trust not only shows good will to that shop, but also shows the client that you have their best interest in mind.
- Customers: Businesses are built around the customers they serve. Whether it’s a one-time or reoccurring purchase, a company’s number one goal is to create a strong rapport with its customer base, starting at the first point of contact through the actual sale. Customers should be viewed as your main source of revenue, and as brand advocates—an extension of your sales team that drives new business through referrals.
- Employees: Your team is the backbone of your business. Regardless of whether you’re a B2B or B2C operation, employees run, produce, and sell your products/services, nurture the relationships with customers, and are the embodiment of the company brand. Dedicated, loyal and happy employees create a positive company culture and work environment, and foster a positive energy that can be felt by anyone who comes into contact with the members of your team—be it customers, job candidates or members of the media. Check out Forbes' Top 10 Companies Doing the Most to Make Their Employees Happier for inspiration.
- Job Candidates: Ideally, companies should look to hire employees who want to work at their company as opposed to any company. To attract the right kind of talent, and the type of employees you want on your team, invest time in building solid relationships throughout the application process. This includes encouraging open dialogue with top candidates (regardless of whether you’re actively hiring), and ensuring that all candidates receive the same, professional and friendly correspondences.
- Media: Establishing relationships with members of the media is critical for garnering attention and positive coverage for your client, company or cause. As many PR practitioners are painfully aware, the onslaught of poorly constructed, executed and uninteresting pitches has caused traditional media to turn a deaf ear on those who don’t have a personal connection to that outlet/journalist. When seeking a particular angle or resource for a given topic, journalists turn to contacts they know and trust.
- Sales Prospects: The rate at which you convert prospects to customers is a direct result of the relationships you establish during the sales process. Not paying adequate attention to your leads can greatly reduce the likelihood of closing the sale, and impede your ability to grow the bottom line. Utilize marketing technologies, such as lead nurturing campaigns and CRMs, to enhance your company’s ability to create a seamless, customized experience for these individuals.
- Vendors/Partners: Whether you’re running an event, outsourcing a portion of your services, or recommending a solution to one of your customers, have a network of trusted vendors and partners to build a more dynamic business. Strong partnerships create alliances within the industry, can become a good sales channel, and create stability for your company.
Which audiences stand out to you as most important to your operation? How well do you support those relationships, and what improvements can be made to create a stronger foundation with members of that group?
Photo Credit: Batmoo