Monday, February 22, 2010

Relationship Marketing - Your Ticket to Success

As a woman in business, it is natural to wonder about relationship marketing and its role in women's business networking.  The truth is, relationship marketing has the power to make or break a business.  Joining a business networking group is a wonderful way to start building relationships with people you can help or who can help you.  We all know it is easier to sell more services to an exising client than it is to sell services to a new client, so this is how relationship marketing helps build a better, stronger, business.

For instance, a web designer may need to hire a programmer to assist her with completing a project for a customer.  Instead of going out on her own to find a programmer to outsource to, she can use relationship marketing to build up her own business as a web designer, and to help the programmer build up her business as well.

Building relationships with people in overlapping industries helps strengthen both businesses.  When the web designer gets a client, she knows she can rely on her programmer to help her provide more services to her client base.  When the programmer is too busy to accept projects from the designer and vice versa, each of them can use their other industry connections through the business networking group to keep each other afloat until they can resume helping one another.

Keys to Relationship Marketing

  • Change your approach.  Instead of reaching out to your clients with a "Here's what I do."  Consider using a "What do you need?"  Finding out exactly what the client needs is the key to building the solid relationship.  Probe beyond the intial response by asking specific questions, to ensure you are building a project that will work best for them.
  • Keep in touch.  Think beyond your initial project completion.  After your project is done, touch base with your clients to keep them thinking of you for their next one. You want to be the person they think of when it comes to the product or service you provide, so they'll keep coming back to you.  One way to do this is to provide a newsletter, which you ask your clients to subscribe to.  Make sure the newsletter doesn't scream self-promotion, but keeps your clients aware of what specials you are running and how your services you are running and how your services will benefit them.
  • Grow your customer's needs.  Offer more services to your customers.  If related services are outside of your scope of ability, work wtih women's business networking and a business networking group to establish connections with other services.  The other service providers can provide mutual discounts and increase referrals.  Continuing with the example above, the web designer can provide a discount on services the programmer offers - to keep both businesses running strong.
  • Establish yourself as an expert.  Provide more than a portfolio of your work.  Work to provide your client with more information so you can show them you know what you are talking about.  If the customer feels you are truly an expert in the services you provide, or at least have connections to people who do, they are more likely to trust you with their project and repeat business.
Follow these guidelines and reach out to people who know to start building more relationships.  Look at your existing client base and find ways to strenghthen your customer relationships and watch your business grow.

-Joann Frazier, Business Consultant


Sandi Eveleth said...

Nice article, Joann! Couldn't agree more! Love the web designer example ;-)