Note: Please enjoy the following article written by guest writer, Mary Ann Keeling.
Business is all about relationships. Having business relationships with the right people instead of with the wrong people can truly make or break you in terms of success. The right people will help you leap to the top like a brand-new trampoline, whereas the wrong people will slowly drag you deeper and deeper into a pit of failure as if you were standing in quicksand.
This article was created to help you better identify the types of business relationships that can be mutually beneficial, how to use relationship marketing strategies without coming off in an obnoxious way, and how to create new relationships with potential customers in real way.
Taking Inventory of Your Business Relationships
Even if you are just starting out in business, you undoubtedly have some relationships already. There are many types, including the relationships you have with your customers, with your suppliers, with your clients, with your accounting firm, with your webhosting company, with the guy who cuts your lawn, and so on and so forth. Some of these relationships are very cut and dry, while others have potential to grow in ways that benefit both parties.
For example if you are starting a design agency or working as a freelancer and you hire someone to do your taxes, and their website could use a bit of an overhaul, you could put together a complementary design package for them. Why would you spend your time on this? Well, an accounting firm is going to have many, many other businesses as clients, and this gives you the opportunity to get a ton of referrals. Some of their clients will ask where they got their beautiful new logo from, other may mention that they’re looking for a design firm, and there are countless ways in which this type of gesture can become very worthwhile for you in the long run. Obviously, this doesn’t just apply to design firms but really any type of business. If you have a flower shop, you can hand out some nice bouquets to local businesses (Their customers and clients will ask where the gorgeous flowers came from…) Think about your own business for a moment, and brainstorm a few ideas of ways you can showcase your work while networking with the local business community.
Sometimes, you can negotiate for a win-win situation without having to formally sit down to negotiate at all. Could you imagine if a local florist came by your office and said “I’m going to give you these flowers, but only if you promise to tell all of your customers to visit my shop.” You could cringe, before kindly saying “No thanks, please leave.” That’s why it’s so important to be genuine.
When building any type of relationship, being genuine is very important. Naturally, when you bring business into the mix then people are often going to have their guard up. Every business owner is used to being pandered to, wined and dined, people trying to give them free things and to impress them – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing and it doesn’t mean you can’t do that in an earnest way.
None the less, it’s really easy to spot a phony when you have people asking you for things and trying to establish business relationships all day every day.
Let Them Come To You
Here are 3 steps to positioning yourself as an authority in your industry.
Be where people are looking for you. This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you don’t have a website, but some of your potential customers are using the internet to try to find you, you are missing out. How can they reach out to establish a relationship when they can’t find you? Make a list of all the places that people interested in your product or service might be online. (Hint: “Facebook” or “Message Boards” are not approving answers; you need to be more specific. Which Facebook groups in particular, which message boards in particular?)
Don’t be shy to highlight your skills. No matter which industry you’re in, don’t be afraid to highlight your accomplishments. You can talk about your experience on your homepage or on social media in a way that lets people know you are the real deal without coming off as conceited or like you’re bragging. It all comes back to being genuine. Youtube is a great place to market your business because it allows you to show off your personality, your skills, and more. Videos where you answer common questions in your field will help expose your business to a much wider audience than most traditional advertisements.
Don’t take any of your business relationships for granted. If you start to lose focus on what makes your business unique, you may start to lose whatever appeal it was that brought people to you in the first place. Think of them as a garden that needs to be watered. Not necessarily every day, but certainly on a regular basis.
Image credit: geralt/Pixabay
Mary Ann Keeling is a social media manager and business consultant. Her current area of interest is relationship-based marketing. She lives in Brisbane with her family, where she spends her free time cycling and enjoying various water sports.