It’s clear to most healthcare marketers today that the territory is changing, but no one’s putting up street signs. And with so many ways to reach customers, knowing who to reach and what combinations of channels and messages will be the most effective in reaching them is a constant struggle. Today, customers are more informed, more empowered – which is great – but that also means they are more discerning and elusive than ever. For healthcare marketers, this means that we must work much harder to reach and satisfy our customers.
If these challenges sound familiar, Relationship Marketing might be the answer. Relationship Marketing is a multidiscipline, cross-channel, long-term marketing strategy that advocates knowing your customers – who they are and how they act, in different channels at different points in time – and using this knowledge to make marketing, sales or customer support decisions.
Because successful Relationship Marketing programs require marketers to invest much more time in customer relationships than they have in the past, it’s not something that can be achieved overnight. It relies on standout creative, excellent data and analytics and a sturdy technology platform. Below are 10 steps toward building high-value customer relationships with Relationship Marketing – an excerpt from our recently released “Roadmap to Relationship Marketing”:
1. Create Organizational Support: Because Relationship Marketing often crosses functional silos and may even cross product silos, the first step is to create organizational support by obtaining management buy-in, forming a cross-functional team and assigning roles and setting expectations.
2. Understand the Business Situation: Relationship marketing is a mindset – a way to fulfill your marketing strategy and attain business objectives – not a campaign or a program. As such it’s critical that marketers identify internal drivers, acknowledge frame of reference and outline a marketing plan before diving in.
3. Integrate Your Data to Improve Customer Awareness: Decide who your customers are and really get to know them by defining your target audiences, taking an inventory of customer-level data available to you in your organization, profiling your customers and growing your customer database.
4. Set Relationship Marketing Vision: Determine what you are willing to bring to the table in terms of Relationship Marketing by setting a relationship vision, defining relationship values and financial parameters, identifying operational constraints and designing the Relationship Marketing strategy itself.
5. Design Relationship Marketing Communications: Once your Relationship Marketing strategy and budget are in place, it’s time to bring your planning to life by creating a design for the outcome, generating good creative, partnering with an agency, creating the customer journey and mapping your messaging.
6. Plan Channel Mix: Make sure you’re looking for customers in all the right places by developing a channel mix, creating a cross-channel approach, mapping your channels and, finally, optimizing the channel mix.
7. Create Operational Support for Relationship Marketing: The ability to launch a Relationship Marketing approach will be heavily reliant on having the right technology and process to support you. That said, it’s important to understand the technologies available to you and work closely with partners to manage the development process and program execution.
8. Launch the Program: Begin with a soft launch to gather initial data on how well your Relationship Marketing operational back-end works, as well as how well your Relationship Marketing communications are being accepted in the marketplace. Then, leverage that information for a successful hard launch.
9. Measure Performance in Real Time: In order to demonstrate the success of your Relationship Marketing program, it’s crucial that you first define success at a macro level and ensure that your success is measurable.
10. Implement Learning: Capturing data is only a prelude to the real value of the measurement process: Acting on the insight. Ask yourself the following questions and adjust your Relationship Marketing approach accordingly: Did we achieve our business goals? Do our campaigns deliver? Do our systems function as prescribed?
By following these 10 steps, you can build stronger relationships, win more market share and get more bang for your buck in a fast-changing marketing environment.