We are copying big business rather than focusing on personal relationships. We’ve lost the art of relationship marketing in a world of mass media and mass marketing. We think relationship marketing is some grand thing instead of a handshake and a conversation.
We tend to follow the examples media provides, right? I recently read an interview with Jay Deutsch, CEO of BDA. (BDA is a #300 million+ business working with Major League Baseball, Bank of America and Coca Cola.) The basic premise of the article is good: Relationship marketing involves making an emotional connection with prospects and customers.
That’s a great premise, but BDA is a branded merchandise agency. They’re purpose is getting people to connect emotionally with merchandise from Fortune 500 companies. They’re talking to millions of people at a time. Local and online business owners need to change the focus slightly because they typically deal with smaller audiences.
Here are three secrets for keeping the focus on the relationship in relationship marketing.
Personalize Your Content
You are your brand. You are the heart and soul of your business, so let it show.
It’s a good thing to talk about a conversation you had with a specific customer. That we have direct, personal contact with customers is something big business wishes it could reproduce. In fact, they invest billions every year trying to persuade people that it’s happening.
Always include your experiences when writing about your topic. Include photos of you and your customers. It’s okay if some readers feel a little left out. That feeling causes them to draw closer in the hope of being included in the future.
Prefer Conversation over Campaigns
Fortune 500 companies are trying to win market share. You and I are attracting people.
The most popular tool we have for conversation with our prospects and customers is email. Yet we’re far more inclined to talk about an email campaign than an email conversation.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? The Fortune 500’s work hard at connecting with people because they know it’s hard to connect with a corporate face. They crave the connection we have with people as independent business owners. Yet we tend to neglect that connection because we want a professional distance.
It’s a little kooky, don’t you think?
When you write an email (or blog post, social media update, etc.), talk about everyday things you know are important to your customers. Mention your kids, pets, hobbies and passions because these are the things that drive an emotional connection. If someone asks you a question, share the conversation you have about the answer. Show folks how someone has already put your advice to work and the results they achieved.
Reputation Leads to Conversion
The content you share and the conversations you have work toward building a reputation.
Jay Deutsch from BDA is stuck doing that with merchandise for Fortune 500’s. He says his company wants to “help brands own the bedroom, office, home, car and consumer lifestyle.” This means they want to see their branded merchandise in those locations.
Where the Fortune 500’s build reputation using celebrities and sports stars, local and online business owners need to take a different approach. You’re the brand, right? So you need to be building a reputation for honesty, dependability and trustworthiness. You do that by providing useful, relevant content, building conversations through email and social media, and always fulfilling your promises.
You have a lot closer contact with your prospects and customers than any Fortune 500 ever will. Where they’re after customers, you’re able to develop raving fans: People who purchase everything you offer or recommend because they trust you.
Conrad Hall is an international bestselling author of 8 books, and a direct response copywriter. He specializes in working with local and online business owners who recognize the value of relationship marketing. Discover more about his approach to combining social media, email and direct mail at here.