To maximize your business success in 2021, you need to look at how you connect with your prospects and customers.  Think of them as family, treat them as the best possible version of a family. It’s about building relationships first.

I recently had an experience on a social media channel that you might have had yourself.  

Pitch forward marketing

Someone reached out to me to connect.  It was a woman whose interests were in my niche. Her message said, “I think I have something you might be interested in.” How could she know that? She didn’t know me.

Being someone who is generally friendly and open to networking, I accepted her invitation. My acceptance triggered another message from her that was a pure pitch.  And it was the type of offer that I always steer clear of.  A business opportunity that doesn’t resonate with me.

In her response, she asked, “are you familiar with XYZ? They are the company I work with”

I responded, “Yes, I’m familiar with them. I’ve had numerous people try to get me to participate in this. Not interested. Thank you.”

She didn’t try to get to know me nor build a relationship. If she had, she might have picked up this isn’t my direction. She took afront at my lack of interest. She lost the opportunity for a relationship. While it isn’t something I would do, she will never learn if I know someone who might be interested.

I’ve practiced relationship selling for years

I’ve always practiced treating people with respect and TLC. This is essential to earn their trust and long term business.  I’ve practiced this for over 25 years. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a virtual summit where some of the greatest minds in marketing shared their best thoughts for 2021. Marketing giants you might recognize. Bob Bly, Brian Kurtz, Kevin Thompson, Eric Partaker, and more.  

Each had their own version of the “One Thing” to keep in mind for 2021. Yet, they were unanimous in their conviction on the importance of relationships as we move forward. 

Relationship versus transactional selling

We shouldn’t ignore…relationships are opposite of transactions.

Transactions are all about the short term sale. Relationship selling is about connecting, engaging, and focusing on helping the buyer find what they want and need. The differences are huge. 

Think traditional used car salesmen, versus an automotive consultant.  Used car salesman were pushy. The don’t listen, they sell.  Get the deal no matter what. It got them a terrible reputation.  

Our automotive consultant doesn’t show the prospect anything until they have listened to the customer.  They actively listen and then help the prospect find what they are looking for.  

If we have a great buying experience, we are far more apt to return to that business the next time we have a need.  We look forward to hearing from them because they “took care of us.” they didn’t try to rip us off and sell us what we didn’t want or need.  Customer-focused.  

3 Techniques for relationship marketing

Once you have embraced prospects as an online family, you’ll engage with them differently. They aren’t just names or emails, they are people you want to help. For the best success, you need to be very clear on your purpose and your goals.  From there you need to give, be open and sincere, and see every touchpoint as a relationship event.

Give abundantly

Focus on how you can help/serve others. Give abundantly. Information, inspiration, and value. People respond when we give our best.  Focus on connecting with people who want what you are offering and give them your best.

Peloton has this down perfectly. Peleton offers high-end fitness gear. Their focus? Athletes committed to fitness. They know exactly what their customer wants. Peleton makes sure they provide it.  They focus on reaching their target market. Targeted quality versus quantity in marketing responses.  They only want the very committed in their inner circle.

This is an expensive brand with a high entry bar. This means members are more committed. The more we have to pay to access what we want, the more committed and engaged we become. The more we will connect and use the “value” the business has provided. 

Their customers are more successful in reaching their goals and more apt to stay with them long term.  They have a much higher lifetime customer value. 

Be real, open, and sincere to build relationships

If you aren’t real, open, and sincere with your audience, they will know it. In today’s world, people look for businesses that are supportive and transparent.  They don’t try to hide things by withholding or dodging issues.

Customer service quality is paramount in the mind of today’s customers. Let them know how to contact you and when they can expect a response.  

2021 will have continued unique challenges. We have to be nimble and quickly adjust to rapidly evolving situations.  Being open and honest with your audience will keep them with you as you have to make changes. 

As a consumer, I don’t mind that your business had to change my packaging due to shortages. Please, just let me know. If the regional weather or other issues are impacting shipping and delivery, let your customers know.  Customers like to be in the loop.

Social and environmental positions are also something that most customers respond to. They want to know how you’re helping others and helping the planet.  If you haven’t added them, share them via social channels and on your website.

See touchpoints as relationship events

Every time you reach out or connect with your audience, it’s important to think of it as a relationship event. Don’t think list building, think relationship building. Don’t think transactions, think connectivity and engagement.

Relationships encourage a two-way conversation. Invite them to respond and interact with you. 

Be aware of what competitors are putting out there. Look for a way to present your message a little differently to increase engagement.  Keep in mind that members are much more engaged than a general audience.  The easier the access, the lower the level of active engagement.

Businesses that make relationships their focus have the most loyal clients and fan base to help share their message. Their ROI and lifetime customer value will be higher than any transactional approach can achieve.

When I work with clients

I start with a review of what they publish on their website and social channels.  I look for the level of relationship building. Then help them see opportunities to increase value to customers. This always converts to an enhanced lifetime customer value.