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RELATIONSHIP MARKETING, BACK TO THE BASICS

 

Relationship marketing has been around for a long time. Today it’s a lost art, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s usually the simple things we do on an ongoing basis that have big impacts….

Joe Girard is probably the most famous car salesman you’ve never heard of. Girard is in the Guinness book of records for selling 13,000 cars in a 15 year period.  His method was to always build relationships, mostly thru customer service. The relationships were fostered with his business contacts, the mechanic staff at the dealership, you name it. A 2012 Dearborn Press article gave a very key insight into Girard’s methods: 

His secret weapon? Greeting cards.

Employing two assistants out of his own pocket, “Joe sent out nearly 13,000 greeting cards a month to his customers, celebrating everything from Halloween to Groundhog Day,” according to the Detroit News.  Every year he commissioned an artist to draw up 12 cards and then send them out. That’s all he did. He would send out one card every month. Each card had the same message, “I like you.” So on Valentine’s Day, major holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, Joe’s clients received a card. It is said that with Joe’s card coming every month, his clients considered him a part of the family.

 

There was a time before the internet, emails and social media when you had to actually call people to connect. Sometimes you even had to send a letter, or have an actual face to face meeting (not Skype), or lunch.  Technology is great, and it can save time, but it also can be very impersonal at times. 

We sometimes forget there is another person on the receiving end of our email or text. That person wants to be appreciated. In life, it is still all about relationships. Who you know, and how you keep in contact to manage that relationship.  

Humans are social beings, and friendships and relationships make us healthier. Social media can be good, helpful, and part of the process. But it still does not replace personal contact. People crave connection, real contact, and sometimes do not even know it.

This does not change in the business world either. In fact, to stand out amongst the noise, and mass emails, the personal touch may be your answer. A simple call, or card, or offer to buy coffee gives people a break in their typical too busy day.

You always hear about the power of networking. If done right, real connections are made. People do business with people they like, or want to be like, and respect. Like a personal relationship, in business you start with the giving part.

This takes times, and needs a long term perspective to be fostered. People can definitely sense if someone has long term goals when approaching people. Building a relationship is about building trust and credibility. People have to see you more than once before they are open to doing business.

Whether a chamber event or business meeting, you usually have to be selective who you talk to. You are not going to click with everyone, and you do not have the time to talk with everyone. Think about how long it really takes to get a new client, days, months? 

Once you’ve met someone a few times, the conversations continue to build. That’s usually when you discuss how your service can help solve their particular business issue. You have to know someone before you can give good advice that applies to them. On top of that, depending on your service or product, it may take time for someone to make a buying decision from you (Example: Realtor – takes months to buy a house).

One of the most powerful tools is the ‘Thank You’ card to customers, prospects or friends. If you can master just this simple task, it will have a profound effect on your relationships. Think of how good you feel when you receive a card from someone you know.

Relationships come down to a few things, respect, trust, and appreciation. When people feel appreciated, they feel better about themselves, and even the world.

There are many tech tools to help keep you organized. You can use the calendar in your Outlook email, to set reminders for follow ups, and special occasions to contact people. Many of the CRM software (like Infusionsoft) have different apps for sorting contacts and setting specific reminders for dates and events.

There is a service I recently started using called Send Out Cards that has a n easy to use app to do just what the title says. It has a contact manager that acts like a CRM for the different cards you can send.

Harvey Mackay has written numerous books for business. His ‘The Harvey Mackay Rolodex Network Builder’  has tons of great tips on networking and managing your business relationships. Good luck with you relationships.

 

 





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