Ah… old school marketing. When times were so simple. The focus was on the next sale – and only the next sale – and however you got that sale became your go-to method for procuring more. Aka Transactional marketing.
In the digital age, however, where people are on information overload and have more choices than they could ever utilize, transactional marketing’s shortcomings have become painfully evident.
It’s a short-sighted, short-term marketing solution that may help you make that one deal but ultimately hurts your reputation over the long haul.
Your target audience experiences a constant influx of emails marketing messages that all sound the same. They’re tired of coupons and banner ads, so if you want to build an authentic brand you’ve got to stand out from the crowd.
The New Standard
Fortunately, there is a solution that will set you apart from the competition. Transactional marketing is giving way to a new method of forming client relationships, and it’s called relationship marketing.
What exactly is that?
“Relationship marketing is a strategy designed to foster client loyalty, interaction and long-term engagement. It is designed to develop strong connections with clients by providing them with information directly suited to their needs and interests and by promoting open communication.”
Essentially what this means is that you’ve got to offer value to your clients so that the business relationship becomes mutually beneficial. This attitude may sound “new” but it’s essentially a modernized return to pre-industrial marketing practices. Salespeople knew their clients by name, visited and communicated with them frequently, and tailored their offerings to meet the specific needs expressed by those clients.
Clients & Customers Don’t Need You
Why is making yourself valuable – hence building relationships – important business? Think of it this way. Mrs. Smith sells widgets, and Mrs. Jones is the only person who sells the special material used to manufacture these widgets. Mrs. Smith needs Mrs. Jones, but the same is not true in reverse.
You want to be Mrs. Jones.
You want to be the one with something to offer – not just the one looking to gain something out of the deal.
“95% of companies fail to exceed the expectations of their customers.”
Becoming Mrs. Jones
Now that you know you want to build relationships rather than just score transactions, how do you turn the tables and become the person the client needs, rather than the other way around?
You identify their needs and create a solution.
A client has one main goal – to purchase services that will make their businesses better. This is where you can leverage your service to come up with innovative ideas to help them achieve that goal.
“Helping is always a more persuasive tactic than selling.”
Going in with your “Give me your business” pitch is much less efficient than approaching the client with “Let me show you what I can do for you”.
Before you even get to the “face-to-face” with your client, have your plan in place. Come up with a list of concrete ideas that the client can easily implement and be ready to present them with an “I’m here to help you” attitude.
Building the Relationship
Once you’ve gotten the attention of your target clients, you’ll want to continue nurturing the relationship just as you would any other in your life. Here are some tips to help you maintain these valuable partnerships:
- Be reliable. This is ultimately the most important piece of the puzzle. Keep your promises, and don’t offer more than you can follow through with. If you say you can deliver something, do it. You’ll build a reputation with your clients as a dependable go-to professional.
- Keep communications open – both ways. Keep in touch on a regular basis, and listen to your partners as much as – or more than – you talk. Engage in dialogue on social media and other channels of mutual interest, and pay attention to their current concerns and challenges.
- Be of value. Craft a reputation for yourself as the one with a solution rather than the one who always wants something. Your website should be a source of useful information, and your interactions should be genuine.
Remember that all of the steps you take in relationship marketing for your client based business are long-term investments in your future success.
A sustainable referral system is one in which all parties benefit, and each member of the partnership is automatically go-to for others that need to recommend services to a client.
When you take the time and effort to become valuable to clients, you stick out from the rest of the crowd. This makes you the one they can’t live without and puts you in the driver’s seat of every transaction you’re involved in.