Building Relationships with Your Customers for Long-Term Success


The Internet is filled with tools that make it easy to turn customers into brand fans and evangelists. Using tools like Facebook and Twitter makes it easy to respond to every customer interaction in a very personalized manner. What’s this mean? Your marketing strategy going forward should focus more on how to turn your brand into a relatable figure, rather than sending out mass messages that solely focus on pushing your products and services.

Besides the customer acquisition benefit of being friends with your customers, you can learn a lot by being in constant contact by chatting with customers all of the time. When you’re having an ongoing conversation with customers, you’re essentially doing non-stop market research that can help you decide what products or features you should be creating. That means you can stop hoping a new product will succeed, because when your customers inadvertently become part of the design and development process, your product decisions address their real world needs.

An article in Harvard Business Review called Rethinking Marketing by Theodore Levitt explains that when you switch to relationship marketing, you need different metrics to gauge your marketing’s effectiveness. Here are some examples of different ways to measure and think about your strategy’s success:

  1. Focus less on product profitability and more on customer profitability. Think about how retailers use loss leaders products—these items may be unprofitable, but that’s because the retailer believes they’re strengthening customer relationships.
  2. Get a solid understanding of your customer lifetime value. This means to stop concentrating so much on short-term earnings and try to evaluate future profits from customers. When you do this, you can make customer retention rate goals and better figure out the value of customers.
  3. Shift your focus from brand equity to customer equity. A big reason to focus on customer value is that it has the advantage of being a great way to understand the value of the business, which means that you can make marketing better reflect your customers’ identities. The value of a brand depends on the customer—without customers, there’s no reason for a brand to exist.

That last part got a bit business school sounding, but the gist of this post is to get you to think about how you can maximize your relationship with your customers. Think about how you can turn your customers into friends. When your customers become friends, they become brand ambassadors and they’ll be willing to tell you what they really want—they become powerful allies to help you have long-term success.

At, we think we’ve been pretty amazing at using Twitter and Facebook to turn our customers into our friends. In fact, our No. 1 referral source isn’t Facebook, Twitter, email campaigns, blog posts, or even Google … it’s friend recommendations.

You can check out how we interact with our customers online: