“How do you target relational customers with an Internet store?” [VIDEO]

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I’ve spoken to two sold-out crowds of business owners in Portland, Oregon, in the last year. Both times, I asked the audience to submit questions for me to answer. I’ve been shooting videos of my answers for a promotional series to run in Portland and Seattle over the summer.

I’m testing a few out here to make sure I’ve got all the bugs worked out. The videos are short – an average of two minutes – and I’m including the transcriptions, too, in case you don’t want to stare at me. Who could blame you …

They’re going to be called Milestones for Small Business. Thanks to my new best friend, Mary Beth Garber, for the catchy name. : )

Click me if you can’t see the embedded video.

How do you target relational customers with an Internet store?

That’s a great question.

The first thing I want to do is recommend to you a book by the founder of Zappos called Delivering Happiness. Maybe you’ve heard of it. You can find it on Amazon.com.

The founder of Zappos wrote a book all about how to target relational customers on the internet. I worked with a couple of internet-only businesses, and you do it by the things you say.

You promise value; you promise expertise, the testimonials and reviews that you use, talk about service and trust and expertise. Use language that triggers a reaction from relational customers.

Remember a relational customer thinks long term. What I mean by that is that the purchase they are going to make from the internet store today is one of a series of many they are going to make with you they are going to make with you over a lifetime. The relational shopper hates negotiating, hates shopping They want to find a place they can trust.

You can find that even in the internet. Look at what Apple has done with their store or even Amazon.com, the degree to which they not only provide reviews but they also provide recommended other products that you might enjoy.

They allow their shoppers to become ambassadors through their shopping lists and wish lists that other people might look into. So there are stores all over the internet that you can use as models.

What are some of your favorite relational businesses? What do they do in their stores or on their websites that you can begin to adapt or model your own internet store after?

Another thing you can really leverage is a blog where you are connecting every day, every other day, even once a week, relationally through the stories you are telling to make you seem real.

Ruby receptionists – callruby.com – they spoke at the October event in Portland. They do a wonderful job at this and you can only buy Ruby receptionist services through the internet but they have a fantastic blog that they update at least a couple of times a week where they demonstrate their knowledge, credibility and passion for customer service and delightful customer service.

Those frequent posts are a language that communicates relational expertise to a customer.

You can do the same thing for your website.


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As CEO and Head Custodian of Miles & Company, Tim Miles helps owner-operated companies do more with less. He's the author of Good Company: Making It, Keeping It & Being It.

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Good advice? Please share. Thanks!