As an entrepreneur, relationships are some of the most valuable assets you’ll ever create. There are the relationships that you form with your customers, with your suppliers and with other small business owners. . You won’t find a column for “relationships” on your balance sheet but you should always be working on growing this asset no matter what.
When you focus your marketing activities in the following three steps, you will be working towards building strong relationships with customers and potential customers. By becoming an authority in your industry, building connections and bringing great value to the table, you’ll find yourself with a stable of strong business relationships in no time.
1. Establish Credibility in Your Industry
The first step is to position yourself as an authority in your industry. Don’t be afraid to highlight your credentials! Take advantage of inbound content marketing and create an informative blog, write a newsletter, and learn to use social media effectively. Every one of the aforementioned avenues are great places to build, grow, and nurture an audience.
2. Get Connected
This is when you take the relationship to the next level. If someone comments on your blog, messages you via a social platform, or even has a question, now it is your time to shine. They have found your content and made the decision to start a conversation with you – this is a very positive moment that can open up a lot of doors for you if you respond back!
3. Establish Trust and Foster Loyalty
After making a connection with your audience, you have your foot in the door. You have their attention. Now your job is to keep it. When you focus on the value you can bring to your audience, rather than what they can do for you, you’ll find that they are much more receptive to what you have to say.
We’ve discussed how to build and maintain strong relationships with your customers, but there is another type of relationship that is very important to business owners. There are many other entrepreneurs out there who all have different sets of skills and past experiences, and when you find ways to collaborate with other businesses you are able to learn from others as well as to help them out with your own experience and knowledge. There are many online communities to communicate with other business owners, but keep in mind some people like to spend a lot more time talking about their business than actually putting work into it so make sure that you avoid those types of relationships because they can put a serious strain on your productivity! You may also want to look into joining your local chamber of commerce or other clubs for entrepreneurs in your area.
The dos and don’ts of relationship marketing include:
- DO infuse some personality into the way you present your brand on social media and other inbound marketing channels.
- DON’T over-share, vent about personal problems, or act unprofessionally when you are representing your business online. You don’t need to look any further than the Amy’s Baking Company fiasco as a cautionary tale of how not to do things.
- DO respond to questions and inquiries in a timely fashion. Even if a customer is rude, this is a great opportunity for you to show off your customer service skills and to leave a lasting impression in public.
- DON’T take your audience for granted, or treat them like fools because you’ll lose them.
If there is one major thing to take away from this article, it’s the importance of understanding that it’s all about finding the right ratio of give and take. As with most things, you get back what you put in so taking the time to bring real value to the table is very important.
Mary Ann Keeling is a social media manager and business consultant. Her current area of interest is relationship-based marketing, and she is looking to expand her business by utilizing new business collaboration solutions. She lives in Brisbane with her family, where she spends her free time cycling and enjoying various water sports.