Understanding relationship marketing in the time it takes to fold a paper crane.
Just like perfecting the art of origami, developing business relationships takes time and practice.
With our breakdown of what relationship marketing is and why it’s important, as well as our step-by-step tips on perfecting the art of networking, we’ll show you how it can help you turn over more business.
This article will take about five minutes to read.
When you start a business, often your first sales will be from your immediate network – that is, people that you already know.
You’ve most likely known these people for a while, which has allowed trust and rapport to develop, so they’re confident in the quality of your business and happy to support you. This is a good example of relationship marketing.
What’s relationship marketing?
Relationship marketing is all about using the power of relationships to grow your business. It focuses on building trust and connection with people, who are either existing customers or potential customers.
The aim is to develop long-term relationships with these people so that you can build loyalty and get repeat business from them. These kind of relationships are ultimately more valuable for your business than customers who make one-off purchases.
The importance of building relationships
Building business relationships is important for a number of reasons. Some of these include:
- Rapport: People like working with people they like. Building a good rapport with clients will help create long-term business prospects.
- Trust: Building trust with a client through delivering quality work in a timely manner will ensure they’ll want to keep working with you. Being trustworthy will also make clients more likely to refer your business to their contacts.
- Loyalty: Having a good relationship with someone means they’re more likely to bring you repeat business, as opposed to a one-off sale. In this way, business relationships literally have financial value.
- Referrals: If you develop good relationships with your customers, they’re more likely to refer people they know to you, bringing in even more business.
Networking is useful in finding potential customers for your business, but many people struggle to do it. Here are three tips to help you become a better networker:
1. Network anywhere
You can network almost anywhere. Apart from formal networking events or meet-ups, networking is actually far more informal than most people think. Just think of it as ‘talking to new people’ and the process becomes a whole lot less daunting.
Chat to new people out in public, such as the barista at a café, or at social gatherings, such as at parties, sporting events or even kids’ school events. Foster a genuine interest in people and ask them questions to uncover who they are and how your business might be able to help them. This will often uncover potential customers.
2. Think of networking as making new friends
The idea of approaching people at a networking event in a professional context can be unnerving.
One technique that helps is to think of networking like making friends. Say hello and introduce yourself, as you would at a party or any other social context. It’s easy for people to talk about themselves, so ask them about who they are and their professional background. Finding common ground is a good way to connect, and it will help keep conversation flowing.
Follow up in an email and make a reference to something interesting you spoke about, before asking to organise a phone call or meeting to speak business.
3. Show people how you can help
It’s common to feel uneasy about asking people for their business, and that’s where a lot of business starters struggle.
Instead of thinking about it as making sales, think about it as trying to help people. Showing people how you can help make a potential customer’s life easier, and genuinely making time for a meeting where you listen to them, will go a long way.
Being helpful will demonstrate your value to people, which will make them more inclined to purchase from your business, or at least refer you to someone who needs your services.
You can find five more tips for networking here, as well as networking help for introverts here.
Top three takeaways
- Relationship marketing is about talking to your connections to help grow your business.
- Building relationships with clients is important because it creates trust, loyalty and rapport. They also often lead to repeat business and referrals to new customers.
- You can network almost anywhere if you think of networking like making friends.
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