How many times have you looked at a super model and wished for a body like that, without working out like they do? How about thinking about getting filthy rich by doing as little work as possible or buying a magic $47 ebook that teaches you some unknown, unexploited methods to make you millions overnight?
Truth be told, most of us are hungry for shortcuts or techniques that teach us to do something with very little effort. Whether you are looking for better health, a great relationship or more wealth, we all go after “secrets”.
This is where most people go wrong when it comes to running a business. I can’t stress how important it is for you to throw away this shortcut mentality out of your head if you are serious about your business.
Gone are the days when you can simply advertise a service or product and get customers. It takes much more than that to get people to buy your stuff or hand over their hard earned money for the service you provide.
Don’t trust me? I bet most people here won’t read this paragraph and will go directly to the section where I talk about the actual 4 steps by scanning the content!
Relationship Marketing Primer
As the name suggests relationship marketing is all about building relationships. Simply put, relationship marketing refers to those activities which you use to build trust, engage your audience, sell your product or service, and keep nurturing the relationship for more sales in the future.
Unlike other marketing strategies, relationship marketing has a focus on the long term profits rather than making a quick sale. It follows a lifecycle approach which begins with introducing what you have to sell to your prospective buyer and continues even after the buyer has made the initial purchase.
It’s a well-known fact that people buy from others who they know and trust. You don’t have to dig up scientific studies to realize it’s true. All you have to do is, look at yourself.
Analyze for a moment your spending habits. Do you buy shoes your friend recommends or the ones the shoe store owner recommends? If one of your friends owned or worked in a car showroom, guess where you’d naturally go to, when you want to buy a car.
People buy based on emotions. Do you think people who buy painting for millions of dollars do that simply because they have cash to do so? No. They buy for such high prices because they have a higher “perceived value” due to the strong emotions attached to art.
When you buy something your friend recommends, you have a feeling that you are making the right choice. It’s these emotions that form the basis of relationship marketing.
If you run a business, you probably want more customers. Not just more customers, you want them to pay you more and in return you want to provide them with a wonderful experience. Your product or service should make a remarkable change in the life of those who bought them. But, what good is your product if nobody knows about it?
With the advent of internet and increase in choices, people are more confused than ever. They are bombarded with marketing messages several times a day. The frequency has reached such a level that people started ignoring these marketing techniques and that’s why, these days, building relationships matters more than anything.
4 Steps to Get Started With Relationship Marketing
Step #1: Identify Your Audience
If you run a business, you probably know who your audience is. Similarly if you own a website, you also know who you target audience should be. Armed with these basic facts in hand, you go ahead and figure out where your audience hangs out the most.
Say you run a music store and your target audience are teens who love music. Now, you want to know where your prospective customers hang out so that you can build a good business relationship with them. If you are looking online, the perfect place to be at is MySpace. Now, all you have to do is register at MySpace and start building relationships.
If you don’t know where your target audience hangs out, a few Google searches should tell you where you can find them. Do you run a baby clothing store? After spending a few hours online, you can target mom audience by finding out popular online mom blogs, discussion forums, and social networking sites catering to new-borns and moms.
Alternatively you could hire a market research agency (if you have a lot of money) or use Fiverr.com (if you are short of cash), and contract them with finding the best source for your business leads.
Should You Build Social Relationship With People You Personally Don’t Know?
One of the most common concerns small business owners have when it comes to getting started with relationship marketing is who all they should be building a relationship with. It’s good if you decide to embrace relationship marketing. However, does that mean that you go out and try to friend just about anyone online?
How to Choose Who to Build Business Relationships With?
It’s easy to go out and build business relationships with just about anyone on social media. But that’s not the point. Your aim is not to have the highest number of friends on Facebook, highest number of feed subscribers to your blog, maximum number of fans for your Facebook page, or have the biggest blog community or highest comment count on each post.
When you are looking to build relationships to improve your business, chose people who:
- Genuinely share the same passion as you in your business niche. If you run a golf club manufacturing business, connect with those who are truly passionate about golf. Don’t connect with someone just because they work on a golf course.
- Actively use the medium where you wish to connect with your audience. If you are out to build a good relationship with people on Facebook or Twitter, no point trying to foster a great business relationship with someone who logs in only once or twice a year.
- Want you to connect with them. Some people prefer not to be very social. In such cases, respect their privacy and don’t try to be intrusive.
- Are influencers to some extent. When you have to spend a lot of time and effort into building a long lasting relationship, it makes sense to choose someone who can directly influence the buying decisions. If you sell SEO services, there is a better chance that you can close a deal if you connect with the marketing department or higher executives in a company rather than the technical staff or people who in no way can influence their business to help you close a deal.
Is That All That Is There To Choosing The Right People?
No. What I gave is just an outline of who you should be choosing to build strong business relationships with. Depending upon what niche you are in, you’ll be able to fine tune your target audience even better.
Next time you come up with a plan to connect with your audience, make the right choice. Don’t ignore people just because you think that they can’t reward you with a business deal. You never know who can bring in business.
Step #2: Identify Your Motive
“Why” is a very powerful word. Almost all problems can be solved if you could come up with an answer for “why”. Ask yourself, why do you want to build a relationship with your audience in the first place? What are you going to do with all these newly built relationships?
Maybe you would want to sell more of your existing products or service. You could use your relationship to better understand the problems your audience is facing and come up with a better solution for their problems. You may even be building relationships to reinforce your brand image in your audience mind.
Whatever your reason is for adopting relationship marketing, you must have a clear objective. Answer the why part of the equation and step #2 is complete.
Step #3: Identify Your Approach
After why, one of the most powerful words is “how”. After answering why you need to connect with your audience, ask yourself how you are going to do that. How are you planning to use your newly found leads?
You could go ahead and create a Facebook fan page for your business. You might get hundreds or thousands of likes. Unless you have a clear idea about how you are going to engage your audience, you are not going to make the best use of relationship marketing.
Before going to war, the generals usually come up with a battle strategy. Without a winning strategy, you are almost destined to fail. Now, I am not saying that you should approach relationship marketing like waging a war. The point is that you must have a realistic and achievable roadmap to accomplish your goals.
Step #4: Learn the Technicalities if You Must
Most small business owners go crazy when it comes to technology. They believe that it’s not something meant for them and that they must hire staff or outsource such things so that they can concentrate more on business. While it can be true in some cases, you must learn the bare minimum technologies that you need, to connect with your target audience.
Say you want to set up a Facebook page for your business. I wouldn’t say that you need to learn how to set up iframe pages, designing, and all that is required to get them up and running. However you should know how to post messages on your Facebook page, share links, respond to comments etc.
If you want to really build a relationship, you must be able to think and behave like your audience. I have heard small business owners giving the excuse that they don’t know how to write emails (technically: create email accounts, login, compose mail etc.), and that’s why they were late to respond. All you have to do is spend some time to learn the basic things and you are good to go.
How are you using relationship marketing to get customers or generate leads? What is the biggest issue you are facing when it comes to building business relationships? Let me know in the comments.
Adarsh Thampy is an inbound marketing consultant and blogs about search and social media marketing, getting more customers, web usability and conversion rate optimization. Add him to your Google Plus circle.