At our agency, the majority of our requests for proposals (RFPs) come from businesses who are trying to increase or improve upon their outbound marketing efforts, such as search engine optimization (SEO), business card and flier design, and calculating their highest return on investment (ROI) using advertising platforms. While these efforts are certainly valuable, we gear our questions in our initial client meetings toward the most fundamental piece of business marketing — existing customer relationships. Because personal referrals are still arguably one of the strongest forms of marketing, we recommend the foundation of a company’s marketing efforts be based on strengthening current customer relationships.

The following are five ways to strengthen the bond between your business and your existing customers:

1 e-Newsletters: Whether you’re using Constant Contact or MailChimp, e-Newsletters are a great way to stay active in the minds of your customers. Snail mail, while it does serve a purpose for a handful of businesses, can be pricey and lacks the analytic and data-gathering capabilities of electronic correspondence. With e-Newsletters, you can drive traffic to your website, keep your customers up to date on announcements, and send out customer surveys to be completed and submitted at any time throughout someone’s day.

2 Social media: If a notable amount of your current customers spends time on any social media platform, part of a healthy customer-relationship strategy for you would include social media engagement. In marketing, a core piece of communicating with target audiences is not only to speak with people in a manner they desire (please take note that we did not say “in a manner that you desire”) but also in a setting they frequent. If spending time on a social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, SnapChat, or LinkedIn is a habit for your current customers, your interaction on these platforms can be a method of strengthening your relationship.

3 Client appreciation events: In-person events are a departure from our first two digital suggestions and offer the chance for businesses to not only engage with offline customers but to create an experience for their existing customers to talk about and invite others to attend. We seek to make customer appreciation events enjoyable without straying too far from the culture and purpose of a company. For example, a cigar party might not be the best fit for a yoga studio but a free event at the park with a guest instructor and expert in yoga practice would be appropriate for your customers.

4 Public relations: When a business has an announcement about a new benefit to its customers, public relations can be an excellent tool in disbursing the news. Both e-Newsletters and social media engagement fall into this category, but, for offline customers, social media also includes communication through radio, print and television. If a local restaurant expands its hours to accommodate additional meal times for its patrons, many radio, print and television outlets appreciate the opportunity to share such news of interest with their audience.

5 Reputation management: There are many terms for monitoring and engaging with customers via Google+, Trip Advisor and Yelp, but we prefer reputation management. Because Trip Advisor and Yelp profiles can be created by outside individuals who are not affiliated with a business, it’s within a company’s best interest to gain control of these accounts. Even one-star reviews are an opportunity for a company to improve business practices and offer a platform to respond constructively to seemingly negative feedback.

For more information on building customer relationships, Sentinel Digital Agency invites you to attend the next complimentary Lunch & Learn on Thursday, Aug. 17 from noon to 1 p.m. at 734 S. 7th Street, Grand Junction. Please RSVP to To inquire about pricing or in-house training on the above services, please call 256-4387.

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