Relationship marketing comes under the Customer Relationship Management umbrella and is based on customer retention, satisfaction and value. The goal of relationship marketing is to ambitiously market to current customers as opposed to brand spanking new ones.

But how do we establish a healthy relationship marketing strategy for your startup?

Why Does Your Startup Need Relationship Marketing?

To scale your startup you need customers who keep your business running. Customer loyalty is the key to your continued growth and success.

Achieving customer loyalty comes from implementing a carefully planned strategy specifically for relationship marketing.

We know that increasing retention rates by 5% can increase profits by up to 25% (Bain & Company). We also know that 20% of your current customers will account for 80% of your company’s future revenue (Gartner).

Furthermore, BrightTALK found that 53% of marketers spend at least half their budget on lead generation.

Additional benefits include two way communication with your customers, organic referrals, better understanding of your target audience and an elevated customer experience.

How do we save your budget, grow your profit and scale your startup?

Relationship marketing is how.

Six Stages of Relationship Marketing

When we talk about this human form of marketing, we’re talking about a long term relationship evolving over time. This isn’t the way to a quick buck, it’s a method that requires devotion on your startup’s part to cultivate authentic relationships with your customers.

There are six stages to establishing a valuable strategy:

 1. Smashing Service

We know the customer is always right even when they aren’t but do your customers always come first?

When you are incorporating customer service into your brand it’s critical that you focus on them. Not your product or service but their experience.

Beyond this you should open up a clear channel of communication as early as possible – a way for your customers to reach out to you in a format that is accessible and convenient for them.

Kolsky found that 91% of customers who are unhappy with a brand will just leave without complaining.

People know when you aren’t invested and getting this right is your first step in creating an effective relationship marketing strategy.

2. Stop Where They Are

When we think about developing an experience based on the customer we consider their perspective at all times.

If your startup’s target audience is a younger demographic that is active on TikTok then that is where you need to develop your platform.

If you’re trying to attract an older demographic who rely on newspapers and radio to get their information then TikTok isn’t going to get the engagement you’re quite hoping for…

Being aware of who your customers are and where they hang out because reaching out to them on the channels they are comfortable with shows them that you are invested in understanding them which will encourage them to engage with your startup.

3. Consider the Tech

Automating your marketing means that your startup has the capability to connect one on one with your customers even when you have thousands of them. By effectively segmenting your customers and designing communication specifically to add value to them you’ll build that authentic relationship without never sleeping because you are scribing messages to each and every one of your customers.

Marketing automation is the human touch without the faff. You still need to invest in quality content, getting to know your customers, and following feedback but automating your process will save you time whilst giving your customers ample opportunity to engage with your startup.

4. Reward their Loyalty

If your startup has loyal customers that can’t get enough then let them know that their devotion is appreciated.

You could offer them a special discount or tailor offers for them based on the information you gather about the.

Nurturing them rather than disposing of them is a core part of relationship marketing. Microsoft found data supporting this; 72% of consumers say that when contacting customer service they expect the agent to “know who they are, what they have purchased, and have insights into their previous engagements.”

5. Content that Cares

The B2B content marketing report of 2021 found that nearly 80% of B2B marketers reported having a content marketing strategy. That’s a hefty amount of content going out into the world. To really put this into perspective let’s look at what Orbit Media Studios discovered, according to their 2021 data, a phenomenal 7.5 million blog posts get published every single day.

That’s a lot of competition. But, does the content care?

Is your content reaching out and welcoming your new customers and having regular catch-ups with existing customers? Is it solving queries before they develop into problems and offering support before it’s asked for? That’s content that cares.

Your startup’s content should strive to improve brand awareness, nurture your brand positioning and ultimately connect with your customers in a way that makes them come back to your startup over your competitors.

6. Follow the Feedback

Feedback makes you more relevant to your customers in the long term. Not only does feedback help your brand evolve, it also supports a meaningful relationship with your customers. You listen to what they say and implement it to improve their experience. This is the ultimate play in relationship marketing.

A great example of this is the implementation of paper straws across Mcdonald’s. The people demanded more sustainable options and Mcdonald’s was one of the first to switch to paper straws.


Relationship marketing for your startup is the marriage that lasts as opposed to a 2-week fling. If you want quick results then relationship marketing will not work for your startup.
When you commit to nurturing your customers through establishing meaningful relationships, you will see organic growth of advocates and happier customers overall.

Remember, Kolsky found that attracting a new customer is 6-7 times more expensive than retaining a current one.

A key part of relationship-building is brand positioning, read more about how to effectively position your startup.