One of the most important things every business needs can’t be bought with money. Relationships drive your business. You need to find the right people who believe in what you’re selling. There are essentially two ways of doing this.
First, you can spend a lot of your marketing budget to do the legwork yourself. This isn’t only expensive, but it’s also quite difficult. Fortunately, there’s a much less painful, much more profitable way of doing this.
Secondly, you can develop good relationships with people who don’t simply understand your expertise and the products or services you offer but are also excited about what you do and what you offer. Once you develop these relationships, it’s up to you to stay connected with these people. You want to continue offering them value since they can continue to benefit your business.
Now that you know and understand what type of marketing you need and why you need it, you also need to learn how to get it and make it work for your business.
You need to start by building your network, which is your sales lifeline. You’ll want to include business colleagues, professional acquaintances, prospective and existing customers, partners, suppliers, contractors and association members, as well as family, friends and people you meet at school, church and in your community in your network. These are all people who are waiting for you to connect with their needs.
Once you’ve connected with these people you need to turn them into paying customers. You can’t simply hope that they’ll remember meeting you at some past event. This is a long-term investment you must create by continually adding value to the relationship. You need to communicate with these people like your business’ life depends on it because it does.
Technology can really help you with this since it opens a lot more ways to communicate with these people than you ever had in the past. Entrepreneur says you do need to be careful when you use these tools (including social media) because you don’t want to create a one-way conversation. At the same time, you also want to make sure you have a top-notch website to drive these customers to, so they can stay up-to-date with you through your blog.
Business.com reminds us that once we create these relationships it’s time to start nurturing them. This goes beyond simply conversing with them. Web meetings are a good option here because it doesn’t matter where these customers are located. You can interact with them and in doing so you can assess, monitor and develop the relationship even further. By contacting customers on a regular basis, you can track how they feel about your business and deal with any issues they bring up with you during these times. This will help you track customer satisfaction better. It will also help you turn statistics in your favor which is important considering that 91% of customers leave and never come back and 96% of customers never complain at all. By following up with your customers on a regular basis via phone, email or social mediayou can easily identify problem areas.
Communicate on a Regular Basis
Clearly, communicating on a regular basis is of major importance. However, you must remember that this can’t be a one-way conversation. While promoting your business is important, listening to your customers is equally as important. You need to find out what your customers need then show them how you can solve their issues.
This is something you also need to teach your employees. They need to learn how to effectively communicate with your customers before there’s a problem. You can teach them this when you onboard them, but you also need to maintain an employee policy that requires timely follow-up (e.g. returning voicemail messages and emails promptly) so you’re sure their needs are met. This is why Entrepreneur calls communication a contact sport – something you must engage in early and often.
Unfortunately, relationships have a short shelf life. It doesn’t matter how charming, enthusiastic or persuasive you are, nobody will remember you from a business card or a one-time meeting. This is why it’s so important to immediately follow up with people you meet at a networking event even if you just send them an email or the latest copy of your newsletter. Doing so will immediately reinforce who you are, what you do, and the connection you’ve made. Since these people probably won’t need what you offer right now, by taking this step you can rest assured they’ll think of you when they’re ready. Taking the time to do this is a lot easier than spending time warming up a cold connection again.
Once you do nurture a warm lead enough that the customer eventually buys something from you, it’s important that you sell them a great product or service. From there you’ll want to continue raising the bar on the things your business offers. This is simply a matter of under promising and over delivering (e.g. deliver faster than anticipated even if you tell them it’ll take you to the end of the month and they receive it a week earlier). By impressing your customers in this way they’ll continue coming back.
Crazy Egg stresses the importance of doing things like sending customers an email on their birthday has become expected so you’ll want to go beyond this in the things that you do. This doesn’t have to be difficult. You simply need to think of a way to surprise your customers by giving them something they didn’t ask for. In doing so they’ll feel like their receiving a gift from a friend, which will help to solidify your relationship with them even further.
Taking the time to do the little things really do matter in your business relationships. These things don’t need to take a lot of time, they just simply need to be done. By doing them you’ll come out ahead of your competition, which is where you want to be anyway.