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5 Creative and Fun Relationship Marketing Ideas to Increase Sales Without Selling

Relationship marketing builds loyalty. Show customers that you care about the person and not just the purchase.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Modern digital marketing strategies have created blurred lines between advertising, public relations and sales. Businesses that focus primarily on strictly compartmentalized approaches, hard sales and rigid data-driven strategies lose traction. Consumers expect that companies earn a relationship with them before asking for a sale. As these relationships develop, the customer churn rate may increase on customers who don’t develop a connection with the brand.

However, customers who develop a stronger connection with a brand demonstrate behaviors of loyalty. This results in a lower churn rate, higher lifetime customer value, and increases brand awareness through acts of voluntary advocacy.

Related: 7 Ways to Build Customer Trust Naturally

The long-term benefits of relationship marketing outweigh the short-term consequences of loss while learning what works and what doesn’t. According to HubSpot, in 2020, message personalization is the number one tactic used by email marketers to improve performance. They also shared that blog posts are among the top three forms of media used in content strategy. Building stronger connections through relationship-focused content is an effective strategy. One small idea can have a big outcome, so don’t overthink your efforts.

Companies that have not implemented relationship marketing techniques into their global efforts may find the pivot to be awkward and uncomfortable, at first. Have fun with the process and give customers an experience that will surprise and delight them. Use the 6:3:1 Formula to determine how much you should spend on relationship marketing.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Influence Is More Important Than Brand Awareness

1. Give a certificate of philanthropy to your customers

If your business donates proceeds for any purpose, create an email campaign that sends a personalized certificate of philanthropy to customers who have purchased products or services that trigger donations. This is a creative way to honor your customers and remind them that their purchase makes a difference.

2. Issue superlatives to customers who have given a 5-star review

Whether you post on social, issue a certificate or send an SMS, superlatives are a fun way to say thanks! Think about options that are relative to your brand and products or services. Here are some ideas that are sure to be entertaining and appreciated. The exact superlative doesn’t need to perfectly match your customers. It just needs to engage them.

  • Funniest 5-star review
  • Most likely to get free shipping
  • Most likely to save the planet
  • Best dressed
  • Life of the party
  • Most likely to know a movie star

3. Ask your customers to submit photos to be part of a branded digital photo mosaic

Share the completed mosaic with your customers via email and on all social media channels. Thank everyone for their participation and support in making the mosaic possible. Encourage them to comment on the post when they find their own photo. You can also create a landing page on your site for customers and their network to see the mosaic and enter for a chance to win prizes. This is a great strategy for building email lists and influencing your customers to share your brand with their network. Allow additional entries for specific acts of engagement.

This is also a great way to recognize customers who reach a variety of milestones such as length of time as a customer, spend amount, purchase quantity and other data points.

4. Invite customers as VIP guests or speakers to live virtual events

Offer VIP customers opportunities to co-host live shopping events, speak on panels, be a guest on the brand’s audio and video content, or be featured on the company blog. In relationship marketing, companies show their customers that they care about the person, not just the purchase.

Related: 5 Ways to Treat Your Customers Like VIPs and Deliver “Wow” Moments

5. Be your customer’s fan on social media

Follow your customers on social media. Engage with their posts, give genuine compliments, and provide value to their content. Turn comments into conversations. Show them that they have your attention. Quickly reply to good reviews with gratitude and appreciation. Reshare their content to your social platforms whenever it makes sense.

When done correctly, relationship marketing can lead to lifelong customers and is a rewarding experience for all parties. Get creative and have fun A/B testing new ideas. Marketing is as much of an art as it is a science.


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