GS Logo
The Green Sheet, Inc

Please Log in

A Thing

Send an Email to:

Beyond the Numbers: The Rules of Relationship Marketing

By Nancy Drexler

Susan isn't here anymore; however, her desk is still here. I walk by it on my way to get coffee in the morning. Her sticky notes, calendar and pens remain, but not Susan. She had a stroke, an aneurysm and extensive bleeding in her brain. And then she had a funeral.

She was only 36. Granted, she was not always the picture of perfect health. Along with diabetes, she had a problem with her foot that required surgery and then kept her working from home for nearly eight months.

But Susan wasn't one to show her personal problems. Her manager, Omar, said she was 100% for Cynergy. She closed 85% of her sales leads, even from home. She was a professional, he said, and also a very good lady.

With Susan's death, I began thinking more about what we do in this industry. We sell credit card processing. We lease terminals. We negotiate discount rates, close deals and use our best sales insights to get merchants to sign on the dotted line.

However, sometimes we lose sight of the people behind those fine-print contracts and carefully bartered profit margins. It's easy to fall into the trap of focusing on profit and loss and forgetting about the people behind the numbers. And then, one day, they're simply gone.

Every day Susan's desk reminds me what our industry is really about: relationships. Relationships between coworkers, processors and salespeople, ISOs/merchant level salespeople and merchants.

Life in our industry is not only about understanding and growing relationships; building a strong foundation for success is also crucial.

In my field, we refer to this as relationship marketing. Understanding how it works will help you make each advertisement, Web site and direct mail piece a component of a larger, more personalized one-on-one conversation. At the end of the day, this is what selling is really about. To gain a better understanding about relationship marketing, keep the following in mind:

You Do Not Sell Credit Card Processing

Not really. Rather, you sell peace of mind, higher profit, greater value and long-term success. This is exactly what your competitors sell, too.What makes merchants choose you? Packaging, promises and personality (OK, and maybe price). What makes them stay with you, despite repeated offers of better pricing? Your relationship with them.

Become a partner in merchants' successes. Help them fix problems and address their concerns.

In other words, show that you care. It's what all of us really want and need from others, and it makes a real difference. If you can prove to customers that they won't have to worry about their processing, even when there's an emergency, you'll have a long-term relationship with them.

People Buy From People, Not Companies

If you view the target audience as columns of numbers on a page or color-coordinated slices in a pie chart, you're focusing on what customers can do for you right now and missing the opportunity to win customers for life.

The trick is to engage each client or potential client one on one.

Creating individualized marketing messages sounds like a real chore to some marketers: "You mean I have to mail merge these letters so the person's name is on each one? What's wrong with a simple 'Dear Sir'? And why do I have to hand-sign the cards when we could just use a stamp or leave them blank?"

Again, the secret to making it work is showing that you care. It's too easy to become cynical and see dollar signs instead of people. Instead, take time to get to know your merchants and potential merchants in the community.

Remember birthdays. Send cards. Answer the phone. Ask about their families. Tell them about yours. Suddenly, keeping in touch is more pleasurable and less painful.

Bonus: Surveys demonstrate time and again that the top means of advertising, by a wide margin, is through word of mouth. People who buy products from people they like are more inclined to spread the word; it's that simple.

Is the caring-about-your-merchants route too touchy feely for you? Try thinking of merchants as business partners, not only profit sources. This means being upfront with them.

Would you sell business partners products or add-on services they don't need? Would you cheat them out of much-needed profits to pocket a little extra for yourself?

If you want the partnership to last, you wouldn't.

A Conversation Takes Two

Are your marketing channels one-way streets? To truly succeed in marketing, actively and aggressively seek feedback from your audience, including active customers, former customers and even competitors' customers. What does the competition give them that you don't? What could you provide that would make their life easier?

Don't forget the personal touch. Your marketing pieces, ads and Web site should include clear, easy-to-find contact information. Be reachable and responsive. Answer phone calls, reply to e-mail, and consider implementing viable suggestions from customers.

Welcoming comments and feedback invites criticism, so develop a thick skin. Remember, anything the audience didn't gain from your marketing messages is something you can still give them. It's better to be informed about what they need than to continue with any misguided marketing strategy.

The key to successful relationship marketing is to think of customers as human beings first and foremost. At the end of the day, personal feelings affect virtually every decision. People will appreciate kindness, consideration and honesty.

Susan always demonstrated these qualities. She was also cheerful and positive and managed to keep everything in perspective. She didn't sweat the small stuff.

But Susan isn't here anymore. Although I learned so much from her in the past, I also learned something from her sudden death: Everything is temporary. We should, every day, think about what counts.

The next time you're overwhelmed by profits, losses and percentages, make the effort to connect with someone in the industry. Call a customer simply to check in. It could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Nancy Drexler is the Marketing Director of Cynergy Data, a merchant acquirer that distinguishes itself by relying on creativity and technology to maximize service. Cynergy offers its ISOs VIMAS, a cutting edge back-office management software; TrackIt, a ticketing system that makes responses to customers fast, accurate and efficient; Brand Central Station, a Web site of free marketing tools; plus state-of-the-art training, products, services and value-added programs, all designed to take its ISO partners from where they are to where they want to be. For more information on Cynergy, e-mail Nancy Drexler at .

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
Back Next Index © 2005, The Green Sheet, Inc.