If you look it up, you’ll find various definitions for the word marketing. The most common perception I hear uses advertising as a synonym for marketing when in fact advertising is only one piece of the puzzle. In a nutshell, marketing is the process carried out by a business to facilitate the mutual exchange of goods or services between two parties. Your clients pay you fees in exchange for the product or service you offer. This may not sound as fun as logos, promotions, and ads but the real fun (and most fulfilling part) is found in building relationships. That’s right, the very thing we all do naturally more closely describes marketing than advertising or sales. I thought about this recently after working on a website for a client and good friend of mine. Because of our previous relationship and knowledge of one another, I didn’t feel I had to sell, sell, sell her on my services. Viewing everything in light of our relationship with one another allowed us to work together on the project instead of feeling like I had to be a sales person in order to keep her business.
Now, of course, I already had a previous relationship with my friend who became a client. So wouldn’t it be great if we could do this with all our clients? Here are some tips/thoughts you may find helpful when looking to build relationships with new and current clients. In fact, most of these may sound like advice you received and use in your non-business relationships:
Listening: Try listening between the lines. For instance, if the client tells you that they have a full time job, part time hobby, a spouse and kids then it’s safe to say they’re pretty busy. What they may not say is they could use some time to themselves. Maybe go that extra mile by offering them a one time complimentary service that takes the load off of their day-to-day tasks. Or offer them participation in your referral program by rewarding them with a spa day certificate for each referral they send your way. Make sure you let them know you listened to their needs by saying you thought they could use a break from their crazy schedule.
Patience: Quality relationships don’t develop overnight and require some time to build. Clients won’t feel they know you right away so make it a point to make your interactions conversational. Maybe even schedule some consistent time to chat with them about their goals, lessons learned, day-to-day happenings, etc. Or schedule follow ups with them even if it’s months later for someone you’re trying to bring on board. The more you’re being your self with them, the more they’ll be themselves with you. Try not to focus so much on the next sale and just continue delivering top notch service which, overtime, could lead to new or repeat business down the line.
Communication: Reminders, tips, follow-ups and thank you notes go a long way. Offer them a subscription to your blog so they always receive the most updated tips. Mail personalized hand written thank you notes or birthday well wishes. Send them reminders before a scheduled call or due date. Or just share exciting updates about you or your business just like you would with a friend. Each communication whether mail, phone or email gives you both another chance to get to know each other.
Teamwork: Clients aren’t just paying you for your time and skills, but also for your customer service. This is where it helps to listen between the lines for their needs not only for their benefit but for yours as well. In the example above, my relationship with my friend made me aware of her mission and goals for her business. I was inspired by what she was striving to do and wanted to join her in it. This made me view our working relationship as something we can accomplish together for the benefit of those she is serving. As a result, I came up with more ideas and went the extra mile in ways that the client really appreciated which naturally transitions into working on more projects together. There’s more tips to share which I can go into in another post. For now I hope you find it helpful to learn there’s an inner marketer within all of us.
Shelby Truxon is the owner of Dream Factory Marketing Solutions; virtual assistance service created to help small business owners and solo-entrepreneurs attract and keep customers.
We want to thank Shelby for sharing knowledge with our readers and invite you to comment if you found the article helpful.
This is Shilonda Downing, signing off for Virtual Work Team!