Building relationships that build business

Building relationships that build business


In marketing – and this is true with any industry or niche, people buy through relationships. Some people sell when playing Golf, yet others sell during their social interactions at the club.

They don’t say, “Hey, I have this product that I want you to buy.” They sell by talking about their business and their products, by telling humorous stories about a customer. They never ask anyone to buy – not “directly.”

When people know they can count on you, they’ll come to you when they need something you’re offering, when they have a problem and they know you can solve it, when they have a question that you can answer. You’re building a relationship.

That’s the way a lot of products and services are sold online – through building relationships. Just be yourself and develop relationships. When clients like you, they buy from you.

Seeking the attention of an audience, becoming one of them, telling jokes (even if they’re stale), providing enough information that the audience can remember, earn their trust and leave a route map that people actually use to seek you out – this looks like a complicated job. But it’s not.

You’ll find it much easier than the type of “selling” we’ve all been used to.

Don’t make this another one of your New Year resolutions that you aren’t going to keep – get into a relationship today. You’ve done it all your life, with your family and friends. Now focus on your potential buyers and existing customers.

Shift your attitude from accelerated purchases to “take-your-time.”

My View On Building Relationships

Building relationships is all about moving from a point of co-existence with people to a phase of co-evolution with them. Marketing is no longer just a process of finding a customer; it’s about developing emotional relationships with people, which result in them becoming customers. They do it not because you ask them to, but because they trust you, they are comfortable with you and “want” to buy from you.”

This approach is nothing new. Big brands have been doing it for years with many changing the face of their marketing to indulge in relationships.  A major part of the budget that previously went into the “on your face” advertising is now diverted to hiring relationship managers who take on the task of finding communities of people they can turn into customers or leads in the future.

Being human

This is all about contributing to the world generally but also finding and attracting the right people to become your customers.

A little story to clarify clarifies things:

The sales manager of Mars, Mr. A, arrives at a huge alien meet, only to realize he doesn’t know anyone there.  He decides to attract people, so he stands on the side of the room and starts emitting this “attraction” light. After a few minutes, the head of the alien meet comes and stands by him. He asks Mr. A who he was and the sales manager explains in a few short words. Since everybody knew the head of the alien meet, they would come by to talk to him, and he would say “Do you know Mr. A? Mr. A leaves the place with an arrangement to meet a big group of people for a game of Golf the next day.”

If you are genuine, they will want to get to know you or your brand. In order to sell, you need to get to know people.

Let’s take an example of “relationship management”:

A printing company that I know has come up with a unique relationship marketing technique that has been very successful. Once the customer uploads their files for printing, the site asks for billing information. After a few hours, an email confirmation is sent to the customer with an electronic proof. This is followed a little later with a phone call from a company representative to discuss the order.

The company doesn’t have to discuss the order over the phone, as everything is done online, but it still does. The representative explains what happens next and clarifies any doubts. These simple and short calls form relationships with their customers that have the potential to last a lifetime.

This is a perfect example of how relationships with existing or prospective customers can be strengthened.

Why building relationships matter 

Successful relationships with prospects always lead to them saying good things about your business. They begin trusting you to the point that they’re willing to express their favour towards you in public.

As an example, type “I love starbucks” and thousands of results will come up.

You can’t stop people from talking. They talk about what they “love” and also about what they “hate.” Be on the right side and on their own volition, they’ll announce to the world their affection for your brand. Always keep in mind that you’re being evaluated all the time. Every single conversation you have, even those that have nothing to do with your business or product matters.

Now you know why social media is right at the top of relationship marketing venues? Conversations – engagement – trust – relationships are all a possibility with social networking sites.

Tell Them Stories 

People all over the world can survive on a diet of interesting and humorous stories.  There are several companies that capture the hearts and minds of people. Look at the politicians. They have long understood the power of taking the humble route with their “I’m just one of you” ethos.

Successful brands know the importance of stories in building relationships.

Whether it’s on your website or wherever you interact with people, tell them genuine and interesting stories. If you have a story to tell, go ahead and share it.

Don’t know what to talk about?  Here are some ideas that my digital agency have helped brands develop within their marketing messages.

  • What was the genuine reason why you started your business?
  • Did you achieve success immediately?
  • Did you face failures along the way?
  • Were there any mentors that helped you?
  • Did your family and friends support you?
  • What was your first lead or customer like?
  • How much did you earn from that first lead?
  • What did your first office look like?
  • Why are you different from other companies?
  • What is the strangest thing that has ever happened in your business?
  • What was the biggest success you ever had in your business?

Discuss any of the above or come up with your own. Tell them in the form of stories. Make them interesting and add a tinge of humour. Don’t be repetitive, make them short and engaging.

If you’re having the story on your website, the best place is the home page. Highlight it. You could use it in a short version on social media sites and in all your marketing material.

Essential tips

A business that is relationally based can yield better results in the long-term. Don’t look at the tricks and tactics people offer to mislead customers. Some of them may work for a while, but they won’t bring the results you seek and will be a disaster for your reputation.

Let me share some quick relationship building tips (not tactics, not tricks) that successful brands know:

  • Make every communication/interaction count. Every interaction you have both online and offline can have a tremendous impact on your business (positively and negatively).
  • Never let your customers down – if you are making promises always try to keep them. Once your customers and the world know you keep your promises then they’ll trust you, buy from you and recommend you to others. Amazon are a great example of a business model built on such trust.
  • Go out and learn what your customers “really” want and give it to them. Offer tremendous value, over-deliver and delight your audience with a superb service that meets their needs.
  • Consider every customer your friend and treat them accordingly. Successful brands know the value in their customers and treat them with respect. Every individual deserves courtesy and respect so never let a bad day influence how you interact with others.
  • Offer free high value information through email, website content/blogs, social media and other suitable media and make it as easy as possible for customers to engage with you when they want to with you responding in a timely manner.
  • Work on your brand identity. You want your customers to easily know who you are (and remember you) in a crowded marketplace. This can be achieved by high quality website design and general branding across all touch points where your customers will see you.

Final Thoughts

Marketing is a game that once had many rules. Now things have changed. One of the few rules to play by is “relationship building.”  It doesn’t really matter what you sell, if you follow that golden rule.

Your job as a business is to make sure your customers come in with a big smile on their faces and leave with a bigger smile.

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