Relationship Marketing 101

My closest friend from college would definitely be Marlene.  We lived together for one year while we were attending BYU.  We clicked right away and had a blast together.  We sang in a choir together in the Tabernacle on Temple Square.  We made banana bread at 1:00 am.  We combined funds to rent a piano for our apartment.

 

Since that year in Provo, Utah, we have both moved several times and never lived in the same town again.  She faithfully sends a family Christmas letter that keeps me updated on her family.  I have good intentions to send her one, but rarely do.  Last fall I knew I would be near her home when I dropped my kids off at college, I sent her an email to see if I could stay the night with her on my way home.

 

Even though I never write and we hadn’t seen each other for about 5 years, I felt comfortable asking her because of the relationship we had established years ago.  And of course, she was thrilled to have me.  She gladly opened her home to me.

 

We all have people like that in our lives – people who we have a deep and lasting relationship with.  We aren’t tied together because we are related.  We are tied together because we developed a relationship of trust and have never broken it.

 

Some of the things that have bonded us are:

  • Shared experiences
  • Leaning on each other
  • Knowing we can trust each other

 

Do you have past clients like that?  These are clients that you have developed a relationship with over the years.  Clients like this are loyal to you and your business.  Even if they don’t work with you anymore, they would still be thrilled to take your phone call. Using those same principles, you can develop and strengthen your business relationships so you have lasting loyalty. 

 

The shared experiences you have with your clients will mostly revolve around the work you do together.  Do your clients look forward to hearing from you or do they avoid returning your calls? Make sure it is a good experience to work with you!  You can also create experiences for your clients that are more social in nature.  You could host a quarterly or annual client event.  Keep it simple, but make it fun.  Shared social experiences help deepen your relationships and show that you care about them as a person and not just as a business transaction.

 

While your friends may lean on you to get through the hard times in their personal lives, your clients are leaning on you to solve a problem they have.  Whatever the problem you solve, make sure you do it well and make them feel like their problem is important to you.  I’m sure you have had people in your personal life who don’t seem to understand your problems when you share them.  They may act distracted or disinterested.  Those people don’t develop into close friends because you don’t feel like you can fully lean on them.  If your clients feel that you are distracted or disinterested in their problems, they will find someone else who can give them the attention they desire.

 

You know you can trust your BFF – whether it is with a secret or just to do what she says she’ll do for you.  When you honor the privacy of your clients and keep their projects confidential, you are building trust.  When you follow through on work you promised, it also builds trust.  Even if you make a mistake, having the honesty and integrity to admit it and fix it builds trust with your clients.

 

Although you may need to draw a line between your personal life and professional life, if you treat your clients like you would a friend, you can develop lasting relationships. Make sure they have a good experience working with you. Let your clients know you are interested and engaged with their problems. Have integrity so they can fully trust you.  Doing these things will help you develop loyalty to your business.


 

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