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Marketing Client Business Development: Plans & Activities

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Client development in marketing is critical to building and maintaining strong business relationships. In this lesson, you'll learn more about client business development as a marketing tool.

Building Relationships

Think of all the people you interact with on a daily basis. Some are acquaintances, like grocery store clerks, the people who handle your dry cleaning, and fill your prescriptions. Yet others, such as your physician, your child's teacher and your colleagues at work, fit into another category - one that focuses on building great working ties and long-lasting relationships.

Fostering client relationships is a building block of business development success.
Fostering client relationships is a building block of business development success.

Client business development in the marketing field is sort of like that second category of people. With a focus on building and nurturing long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial to both parties, client business development is a valuable tool for any marketer to employ.

Why Client Development?

Client development is the method by which businesses attract prospective clients and manage ongoing relationships with existing clients. Imagine if the doctor you've seen for 10 years suddenly stopped taking your calls or began canceling your appointments with no warning. Would you want to stay a customer of that medical practice? Hardly.

Client development is important to a business because it not only aids in attracting new clients who have heard good things about you and trust your brand, but also assists in retaining existing customers. Client development has many added benefits such as:

  • Building trust and relationships
  • Increasing brand awareness and visibility
  • Achieving greater understanding of the client's needs and problems
  • Earning more, free word-of-mouth marketing and recommendations
  • Keeping customers satisfied and earning their repeat business

Development Activities

So, what types of client development activities should you be participating in? They range from the simple and obvious to the more involved. Let's look at a few.

  • Find reasons to talk TO your clients. Take them out for lunch, attend their business events or simply make a phone call or write them a letter/card. Send a gift when appropriate such as a work anniversary or a personal achievement.
  • Host targeted workshops and webinars. Your clients have needs and problems they look to you to fill. By conducting targeted informational workshops, you are showing you are in touch with a need or problem and are offering a solution to fix it.
  • Create personalized email or website campaigns. When you earn a new client, send them a series of introductory email messages. Or, build a custom portal or webpage that only they can access. Create a targeted email newsletter addressing their concerns.
  • Find reasons to talk ABOUT your clients. People love to hear praise, so use your various marketing channels to brag on achievements or new developments from your clients. Social media is a great place to engage in this.
  • Ask for a client's input on a written piece or a speaking engagement. Co-author an article in a local publication or present on a topic of interest at an industry event.
  • Offer opportunities to socialize. An after-hours mixer or a meet-and-greet event is a great way to get to know your clients better in a less formal setting.
  • Attend events with them. Many businesses allocate a portion of their marketing for extracurricular events such as golf outings or tickets to sporting events. Invite a client along for a fun day of relationship-building.
  • Get involved with them in community events. If they've asked you to be on their board of directors or if you are presented with an opportunity that is appropriate to bring guests along, these types of events outside the office can be great for developing relationships.

Client-Specific Plans

With the right amount of resources and staffing, you can achieve even more with client business development by building targeted plans for specific clients. Targeted plans are ways you can reach out to them that are personalized in approach.

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