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How to develop relationships online

2 min read

The goal of developing relationships with customers and consumers has remained the same, how you do it is changing. Today, most interaction between processors and retailers happens online. In the past, we had the impression we had to be in the same room, but that’s changed. Many category managers are working remotely where online is the only option to stay connected with colleagues and suppliers.

Make your online meetings interesting

Find opportunities to make your online meetings exciting and interesting. Staring at a screen can get tedious, but not if it’s interactive and informative. Add components like video to bring more information and interesting content. If you’re producing a new product use video to take your customer through the process. Include some of your employees from the development stage right through to the final production process. You can also include consumer testimonials to finish the video. This is much more interesting than listening to a salesperson talk.

Be creative with sampling

Sampling your products with your customers in the virtual world can be a challenge or an opportunity. Develop creative sampling that compliments your online meetings. This can include local chefs, culinary schools, employees or even consumer advocates. Anyone can send their products in a brown box. Make it memorable and you will get more credit from your customers.

With consumers spending less time in stores, the importance of developing the relationship virtually is heightened. The objective should be to get on the list before they go to the store or complete their online order. There are more opportunities to explore, such as influencers conducting Facebook live segments or promoting recipes that feature your products and content online.

Cultivate your online community

When you make your meetings and messages interesting and informative, you’ll develop relationships that deliver a return on your investments.

You should be cultivating your online community. This includes understanding what your audience is looking for and giving them opportunity to participate. Cultivating your online community is much more than posts on social media platforms. Consumers are also interested in your people and your process. Consider using the same video you created for your customer, with some modification for consumers, to share your message. Remember to embrace the feedback and input from consumers. Feedback from your target market is valuable and you can learn a lot from their questions.  Be interactive.  Find ways to encourage conversations.

Developing relationships in a new medium with customers and consumers is not simply taking what you did before and putting it online. Think of the communication, how your messages will be received and the people on the other end. When you make your meetings and messages interesting and informative, you’ll develop relationships that deliver a return on your investments.

Article by: Peter Chapman

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