Ask any gardener, and they will tell you that planting seeds is only a fraction of the work in creating a beautiful garden. Getting the initial steps right is definitely important, but without regular watering, weeding, pruning, and fertilizing, the garden, which may be initially beautiful, will likely start to wither. At this point in our 7-part series on Growing a Profitable Jewelry Business, we’ve discussed the core tactics to get your jewelry business effectively up and running, but we’ve left an often overlooked exercise to last: relationship management.
Relationship management is a key part of maintaining engagement with existing customers and ensuring you stay top of mind for new opportunities that arise. It can at times seem secondary in importance, but maintaining active relationships with your business partners can be just as meaningful as activities that involve recruiting new customers. In the final part of our series, we’ll walk through 5 essential tips for effective account management.
1. Maintain a dynamic list of wholesale customers
The first step in maintaining your customer relationships is actually remembering whom your customers are. Keep a list with any pertinent contact information and relevant notes about customers themselves, idiosyncrasies in the way they do business, and their preferred ways of getting in touch. Also consider adding attributes to help to further categorize and target stockists for different collections, campaigns, or events. These might include:
- Social media reach
- Geographic location
- E-commerce vs. Brick & Mortar
Keep track of how many customers you have and what your gaps/growth opportunities are for future outreach.
2. Follow your customers on social media
Whether you like it or not, social media is now a core part of any marginally savvy business’s marketing and branding strategy. In the jewelry market in particular, Instagram and Pinterest are where trends are created and business plans are executed in a visible way. With your customers, then, it becomes important to keep up with what they are doing on social media.
We recommend checking profiles daily and watching Instagram stories. Stay abreast to changes in visual direction, new marketing campaigns, or patterns in the type of content or products they are posting. In addition to spectating, also engage with those profiles through likes, comments, and direct messages about specific posts. This activity alone can help to subtly keep you relevant in a brand’s mind. Often with smaller companies, the same person running social media is also the person running the whole operation. Even if that’s not the case, this engagement still builds a relationship with the social or marketing area of the company and opens you up more easily to potential opportunities for collaboration on joint social marketing efforts.
3. Notify your wholesale partners of any new product releases
Just as you want to be aware of what your customers are doing, you also want them to be aware of any new collections or product launches you are planning. Every new collection launch is an opportunity to reacquaint your customers with who you are as a brand and expose them to new product they may be interested in stocking and selling.
If you have a standard email to your broader customer list, be sure to send a more tailored email to each stockist, separate from your mass marketing push. Prepare a lookbook and utilize the same principles we discussed in our earlier segment on outreach. Start pitching your new collections 2-3 weeks prior to the main product or collection launch.
4. Don’t be afraid to stay in contact
As with any good relationship, communication is critical. Regular communication helps to create an ongoing dialogue, which eases the awkwardness that can sometimes accompany business relationships. Although you’re probably not going to be engaging with your customers with the frequency of a personal friend, it’s helpful to schedule calls regularly to get an idea of what short- or long-term promotional or strategic activities are expected and how you can be a part of them. If a stockist is local to where you live, we encourage you to stop by in person and schedule some face time with the buyer.
5. Be personally invested
Everything we’ve discussed in this series has been on a business-to-business level, but, in reality, every interaction you’re going to have with your customers is at a human-to-human level. To establish a sustainable business relationship, you really need to get back to the basics and get to know your customers.
Invest in learning their concerns, their excitements, and what they’re thinking about. Try to understand their motivations in making certain decisions or not. Don’t say things you don’t mean and don’t make promises you can’t keep.
The best way to generate trust and, ultimately, respect with a customer is to be genuinely engaged and interested in what they’re doing. Building a rapport that goes more than surface deep can be the basis for a truly sustainable business relationship and maybe, if you’re lucky, even a friendship.
Thank you for following us throughout our series. Wishing you all the best in incorporating these strategies into your business growth!
If you missed any part of the series, please check out the links below: