A friend and I were talking about the need to use relationship marketing or, in other words, build a relationship with your website visitors and social media audience. As a business coach, she often has to explain the need for relationship building to her clients. This was her observation:

” What are they doing to cultivate a relationship with website visitors?

It doesn’t make sense to expect that people just hand over their money to hire a service provider. People only buy from those they know, like and trust. So…how do we move a website visitor (a stranger) to the point of sale, and actually buy, becoming a paying client?

It’s imperative to cultivate a relationship. Get their email address, get them on your newsletter list, connect with them on social media, invite them into your community. Virtually take their hand and take a walk in the park with them and get to know them. Only once we’ve gone into their world and found out what they need, can we determine if they’d be a good client and if we can solve their problems. Only then does our marketing efforts become a worthwhile investment.”

~Andrea Hunt Raco, Success and Life Enrichment Coach, Coach for Life

So how do you do this? You are familiar, at least on a basic level, with blogging and social media and how you can use them to market your product or service. The days of high-pressure sales tactics have faded away. Content marketing has taken its place at the front of the class. But is that all there is? Do you stop with churning out quality content? No, we need another level:

You need to actively use Relationship Marketing.

relationship marketing
Image Gerd Altman on Pixaby

So what’s the difference between the two? Content marketing is talking with your audience but relationship marketing takes it to a deeper, more meaningful level.

In fact, your success is dependent on the relationships you make with others. You could have a killer blog, high-quality content, and lots of traffic but the rapport you have with your target audience is all about engaging in a conversation with them. People that have chosen you as a source of information should be held in the highest regard. Once they have a great experience with you, they will be more likely to share you with others, bringing more traffic to your site and more potential customers.

How do you build relationships?

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing uses blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers, SEO, physical products, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing to attract customers through the different stages of the purchase funnel. You attract people to your product or service based on a common interest or desire to learn more. Concentrate on actively pulling in your community, not passively waiting for them to engage.

It’s is a form of two-way communication. The customer interacts with your business in a dialog. They post on your Facebook wall, join your groups, comment on blogs, or take part in contests. When they participate, they become invested and engaged. People want to be in control of the information they get and this makes them more receptive to your message.

Nurture your relationship with your audience with User Generated Content (UGC).

User-generated content (UGC) is any content—text, videos, images, reviews, etc.—created by people, rather than brands. When your audience creates comments or shares your content, it’s a powerful reference to others.

relationship marketing
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Ideas to generate UGC:

  • Leverage expert bloggers. Ask other, prominent bloggers to write guest blogs for your site.
  • Encourage your audience to share a review about your brand across social media.
  • Ask for the share occasionally. (Not every post – that looks needy!)
  • Get the conversation started. At the end of your blog or social media posts, ask your reader what they think, what their experience is, or if they have any tips to add.
  • Run a contest. It can be as simple as ‘tell us what you think of us and share with your friends.’ The top five people with the most shares wins a _________________. (Fill in the blank with a fabulous prize.)
  • Share, share, share. The more you give, the more you will receive. If this seems a little backward, you’re wrong. On the internet, it’s all about how much valuable information you can give away. Once people see that you are a reliable source of consistent, knowledgeable content, they will genuinely want to know more and learn more from you. Many “customers for life” are created this way.
  • Write FOR your audience. What problems do they have that you can solve? What do they want to hear about? If you keep this in mind each time you will never have a problem reaching those you want to help and in turn, getting them to buy from you over and over again.

Relationship Marketing doesn’t stop with your potential customer.

relationship marketing
Share your experience and help others when you can.

Interacting with your colleagues on a regular basis is also a great way to build your business. Mastermind groups and live events let you connect with people who are on the same journey. Valuable business partnerships and joint ventures are created by communicating with those around you. These are people you can count on to share ideas with, create products, and provide bigger and better services that will take your business to the next level.

There is a Facebook group or community for just about any interest. Find a group that your peers would be likely to frequent and start up a conversation. Be sure to read and follow the rules of the group. Many only allow self-promotion on days set aside for it. Actually, get into the discussion, find out what your peers are doing that works and what doesn’t. Share your experience and help others when you can.

Attend live events.

You will meet and learn from some of the experts in your niche when you attend live events and this is also relationship marketing. Some of the most successful businesses owe it all to the JV (joint venture) partnerships created during these events. Meeting new people, hearing about their successes and failures, and establishing relationships are some of the most beneficial things you can do for your self-growth and the growth of your business.

In a sense, our lives and the success we experience depends on the people with whom we know and associate. Building solid relationships with the people you come in to contact with can launch your business to places you never dreamed of. You will also be creating lifelong friendships that will be worth more than any amount of money. The key is to be yourself, and let your unique personality shine through to those you want to reach.