When you talk to successful business people, they inevitably tell you that it is all about relationships. This is been true throughout time. It's true today, and it was true way back in the bazaars of the Middle East centuries ago. People like to do business with those they know, like and trust.
To build success in business, you have to build quality relationships. This takes time, money and energy to do it right. More than anything, it takes the ability to listen to the needs of others and figure out creative ways to help them solve their problems through the products and services you offer.
You have to be where your customers hang out. Suppose I could put you in a time machine and send you back to the year, oh, say, 1920. The Great War (we now call it WWI) was over. Business was starting to come back, but we were heading for a depression (in 1922, not the one in 1929, but that’s another story). How would you build your business in a new community in that era? You’d get to know where important people hang out and be there. If it happened to be the General Store in town, you’d be there. If it was the local church, you’d be there.
Be where your customers hang out
If you want to succeed in business, you have to be where important people hang out. And here’s the really important part — you have to provide lots of value first.
Okay, let’s get back to the present. The same principles apply today. We have just changed some technologies (like human beings have done through the centuries). Today, lots of people hang out online. They go to — and use — places like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and a host of other wonderful places. Think of each of these places like the local bar at the corner of 4th and Main, or the popular church, or the “right” golf club. See the similarities? Social media are gathering places. Social networking is how you connect with others, providing value to them so they know, like and trust you. This takes time and requires building over time.
But if you go into, say, Twitter, and start shouting at everybody about how wonderful you are and how great your upcoming webinar is going to be, you’ll be summarily rejected, and rightly so! You have to build a relationship first. That is what relationship marketing (I call it R-Commerce) is all about. Provide value to people and let them get to know you over time.
Build a relationship over time
Sure, you want to sell your products and your services. Hey, Sparky — everyone does! So get with what works. Find out where your potential customers are hurting and help them. Get to know them as people, not just “prospects.” Earn (key word) their trust by demonstrating and providing lots of value first. Then they will be more open to listening to you about what you have to sell.
Approach your use of social media from the overall strategy that is going to help you achieve the goals you want. Be there providing value if it is in the form of quick tweets, enticing posts or problem-solving videos. From that you can attract a loyal following as long as you provide value.
Do you get business when you join an elite country club? The answer from many I’ve spoken with around the world in such “elite country clubs” is a resounding yes. However, it doesn’t happen immediately. In fact, if you try to push your stuff on them, it doesn’t work.
The bottom line for free-market entrepreneurs (the best way to live, in my opinion) is to provide enormous value to others. Get many people to know, like and trust you. Then you have a much better option to get them happily involved with you in your business.
These principles work no matter what the time. They work sitting in rocking chairs at a General Store in the 1880’s in frontier America. They work as we rapidly approach the third decade of the 21st century (coming soon to an internet near you). Embrace technologies that work today while following the principles that have worked throughout the centuries. This is what Relationship Marketing is all about.