Edited by Alison Carminke
Isn’t it every business owner’s dream to win clients on a daily basis? Clients who are loyal to you and your brand, and who buy from you regularly? Otherwise, you wouldn’t run a business, right? I mean, of course there are other goals that business owners have, such as living a self-determined and independent life, or helping other people with their problems. But without clients that buy from you, sooner or later, your business will fail.
When it comes to marketing, we try all sorts of strategies to attract new customers to our brand. And you probably know that this can take a lot of money. However, what if I told you there’s a way to market your brand without spending a cent? A way to attract your perfect match; the loyal customers that will be your biggest supporters? What if I told you some of the biggest companies are already marketing this way, and we’ll all be doing it in the future?
Imagine two people: the traditional businessman in the black suit who keeps his customers at arm’s length, and the up-and-coming entrepreneur who treats her customers like friends. Which one grows and keeps stronger, more personal relationships? Which one is going to win more loyal customers, followers and supporters for their brand?
You guessed it: It’s the entrepreneur. But what does the entrepreneur do differently? And especially, how can you do the same in your business and watch your client base grow?
The strategy the entrepreneur uses is relationship marketing. It’s a long-term strategy where you invest in building real relationships with individual clients, rather than promoting your business to several thousands of people and not really knowing what kind of people are buying from you (besides the obvious demographics).
Relationship marketing helps you to build brand loyalty and create strong customer connections so your clients will purchase from you on a regular basis. It is focused not on short-term sales transactions or wins, but rather on customer satisfaction over the long haul.
What do you need for relationship marketing?
When it comes to relationship marketing, one thing is certain: You don’t need to be experienced in traditional marketing skills like creating ads for your business, or copywriting. All you need to know is how to talk to people. Imagine it like making new friends. How do you approach a person you find interesting, and how do you talk to them if you would like to be friends?
In relationship marketing, the only thing you’re investing is your time. And let’s be honest: your business can only survive as long as you keep on attracting new clients. So any time spent on this is definitely worth it.
Examples of relationship marketing
There are three easy strategies when it comes to relationship marketing, which you can get started with today.
- Word of Mouth
The simplest relationship marketing strategy you can start right now, is connecting with your existing network. Let your (Facebook) friends, family, and other people in your network know that you’ve started a business, and tell them what you specialise in and what you offer.
I’ve seen people who started a service-based business and pretty quickly got their first customers just by reaching out to their existing network. Once you get that going, people can start recommending your services to others they know, which most potential customers value more than traditional advertising.
Word of mouth is often underestimated because you might think that you don’t know anyone relevant. So you miss the potential of this strategy and don’t bother using it. But you never know: maybe one of your acquaintances knows somebody who just might need your help!
Don’t waste this opportunity, especially in the beginning. Start reaching out to people you already know. This way, you can create trust, build your brand, and test out your market.
2. Connect with your Target Audience
As an online business owner, you’re going to connect with a lot with people on social media. The best tip I can give you is to help your target audience on social media (or wherever they are), before you try to sell them your offers.
In the beginning, no one will know you in the online business world and therefore, you need to build trust and cultivate credibility. And how to do that better than by truly helping other people reach their goals? Don’t be afraid to give out too much for free, as people will buy your offers as well. What I mean by that is, try to answer questions your potential clients might have or create blog posts based on the FAQs in your industry. I don’t mean you should work for free, but be helpful, point your customers in the right direction if they get stuck and show that you support them on their path to success. Because first, they need to know that YOU really can help them and what better way is there by showcasing your expertise in this way?
By connecting with your target audience on social media and helping them with their problems, you can build lasting relationships. This will result in loyal followers, and you will know first-hand what problems they’re dealing with and what offers you can create to help them most effectively. Does this sound appealing? I hope so, because this is a very important strategy if you want your online business to succeed.
Remember here: Give before you get.
3. Give Shoutouts
Another way you can grow your audience online is by giving social media shoutouts. When you love what other entrepreneurs are doing and what they have to offer, feel free to give shoutouts to attract attention to their business. Especially if the other entrepreneurs don’t have a huge following yet, it is very likely that they’ll notice you and check out your business in return.
And think about what can happen when they notice you and they like what you’re doing. You might do an interview together, or collaborate in another way, and it will most likely result in more visibility for your business. That attracts more followers and clients, and so you can grow your audience in a sustainable way.
Plus, if you make a powerful connection with an entrepreneur, they can then recommend you to their network, growing your business even more.
Added to all this, you become more credible to your existing audience, as you let them know that you are a team player who cares about other entrepreneurs, rather than a selfish person who’s only focusing on their own business.
I hope now you can see how quick and easy it is to get started with relationship marketing, and how much you stand to gain from these three simple strategies.