Courtship is a word that’s not used very often these days. In fact, when you use that term around a certain age group, you’re considered pretty old-fashioned. I like it! It has a classy ring to it.
“The difference between dating and courtship involves the goals to be reached by spending time with a potential marriage partner. Men and women who choose to date often have no commitment to consider marrying the other person.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines courtship as, “A period during which a couple develops a romantic relationship before getting married.” Many young people prefer to use the word dating, which does not have the same connotation. There are subtle differences between courtship and dating. One source described the difference as follows: “The difference between dating and courtship involves the goals to be reached by spending time with a potential marriage partner. Men and women who choose to date often have no commitment to consider marrying the other person.” This distinction is what prompted me to compare building the relationship with clients and customers to a period of courtship. There is a purpose to it, and a specific outcome is anticipated at the end of the courtship or relationship-building period.
Let’s explore the similarities between courtship and building a relationship to take someone from prospect to client.
“Relationship marketing is a strategy designed to foster customer loyalty, interaction, and long-term engagement. It is designed to develop strong connections with customers by providing them with information directly suited to their needs and interest, and by promoting open communication.” –Forbes
First Date Arranged by Friends: Couple meets for the first time for dinner. They smile, a bit tentatively, introduce themselves, order dinner, make small talk, and begin to get to know each other.
Prospect Is Introduced to You: Prospect meets you for the first time through social media or through Google organic search engine results. She goes over to your website to learn more about you. She reads your About page, blog posts, and FAQs in order to get to know you better. She bookmarks your website and signs up to be notified of new content.
Dinner through the End of the Date: Dinner is served, the couple discover they have a number of mutual friends; they also have a lot in common. The initial tentative smiles give way to laughter that causes their closest neighbors to look over and smile. It’s obvious that they’re delighted with each others’ company. They linger over dessert as they know they want to see each other again.
Wow Customer Experience: She subscribed to your RSS feed to be notified when you publish your next blog post. She’s blown away by the content. The thought comes to mind, “If she publishes so much good content for free, I would receive a lot more if I purchased something from her!” She decides to become a subscriber and again is thrilled with the quality of the information received.
Phone Calls, Texts, Emails: As the hours, days and weeks go by the couple stay in contact and are developing an emotional bond. They have begun a courtship.
Emails, Phone Calls, Text Messages: As the hours, days and week go by the business owner stays in contact with the prospect through the nurture series she created as follow-up messages, delivered through her autoresponder service. She continues to publish good content on her blog and responds to questions and comments on various posts. Because she wants to take the relationship to the next level, she continues to wow her customer by communicating directly with her.
The entrepreneur does not leave it to chance. After finding out her potential customer’s preferred contact method, she learns that she prefers to be contacted by telephone and so they schedule a conversation where she discovers her pain points and what’s keeping her up at nights. She invites her to a complimentary breakthrough consultation.
I view relationship marketing as a brand’s ability to create an emotional connection with the customer.
Emotional Bond and Commitment: Over time as the emotional bond grows the couple commit to each other and decide that they want to spend the rest of their lives together.
From Prospect to Client: The client recognizes that she has found the person who can help her take her business to a higher level and is committed to working with her for the next 6 months to bring about a transformation in her business.
“The course of true love never did run smooth.”
In marriage, there will be challenges. You may experience challenges in the relationship with your customers and clients. How you handle the challenges will determine if your clients, with whom you’ve created an emotional bond, will remain loyal to you.
Today’s consumers are more informed than you can imagine. This has resulted in a drastic shift in consumer power and has altered the selling process by placing a greater emphasis on the customer experience.
In today’s digital economy, it takes more than ‘good customer service’ to build a strong relationship with customers and to move them from prospects to clients or customers.
In an article on Forbes.com, the author emphasized the importance of standing above the noise. The article noted, “To reach and engage a customer, brands must deliver one or some of the following: novelty, delight, a form of greater health or wealth, improvement in a business process through cost savings or time, increase in quality, organization or convenience, and/or a vision or mission that compels the customer to take action, whether in the form of a purchase or by gainful influence with others.”
When each entrepreneur and small business owner makes a conscious effort to provide excellent customer service, create WoW experiences, and develop strong relationships with prospects, they go through the phases of the relationship marketing process that encourage prospects to become customers.
Like a beautiful courtship between a man and a woman that eventually leads to marriage, you and your prospects can enjoy a beautiful long-term relationship. How else do you believe businesses can build relationships with customers and clients? Please share in the comments.