Episode 73 of Landscape Digital Show reveals why customer relationships with a business are more valuable than those with its products.


Customer Relationships: This is Why People Come Before Products

Relationships have a fundamental purpose. They make us better; otherwise, there is no reason for the relationship.

In business, the debate is whether the customer has a relationship with the products or the business or both. And if it does, which should come first?

If your customer relationships are with your products, then the relationship is only as good as the products.

The problem with that scenario is that if something fails to work as expected, the relationship is at risk of failing too.

It takes work to build business relationships, so it makes sense to use every means possible to avoid those breakups.

Flip Your Marketing from Products to Relationships

In his bestselling book Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It, former international hostage negotiator for the FBI, Chris Voss, identifies two conditions that people need to be comfortable in negotiating situations:

#1. Feeling safe
#2. Having a sense of being in control

These conditions are personal and emotional, and that means they are people, not product-based.

Traditional advertising creates product awareness, and it does that well. But you have to go further to get and keep buyers engaged with your business so they can feel safe and in control.

You have to shift your focus to create familiarity with buyers by showing them the big picture, that is, how your company goes about helping its customers.

Give them something that helps them see, feel, and understand their relationship with your business in advance. And that something is your branded process that addresses the known customer concerns, which may include:

  • Project scope
  • Budget and payment terms
  • Schedules and timelines
  • Communications and changes
  • Warranties and remedies

To name a few.

Fortunately, the interactive nature of digital marketing makes it possible to address these concerns pretty easily. A short “explainer” video on the home page of your website that introduces your company is a good start.

Then, you can create more videos, podcasts, or blog posts that address every conceivable concern, with the idea of removing risk so that buyers feel comfortable moving forward with your business.

Your Business Process is The Relationship

It should encapsulate the 5, 10, or 30 years of your company’s accumulated business experience, especially the relatable stories that make its capabilities real.

To convert prospective buyers into customers requires trust in your business, in your products and services, and the people on the front lines and behind the scenes that make it all happen.

That’s a lot to accomplish when you have the limited attention of a potential customer because trust is something that has to be experienced first-hand. A referral or testimonial is helpful, but not enough.

For some companies, a “try before you buy” offer is a risk-free way of acquiring that first-hand experience. Although, one problem is that trial is a product based-solution, so it falls short in the relationship department.

Also, that could involve significant costs for a landscaping business.

The alternative is to design, brand, and market a process that can serve as a “stand-in” for the experience.

Think of your process as an interactive map that gives buyers the opportunity to experience the most meaningful aspects of your business.

What are those essential elements or touch points that make your business unique? I’m sure several come to mind, but I’ll suggest you can find others where your competitors tend to drop the ball.

If you would like to know more specifics on how to build and brand your business process, check out the links in the show notes below.

Good luck.