I was recently introduced to “Jobs Theory” and decided to learn more about it so I have started reading the book, “Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice” by Clayton Christensen. Before I even finished the book, I liked how the author distilled the purpose of business down to a very basic level. Of course, I have applied it to the work that I do as a marketing professional and here’s my insight: marketing does the job of developing and sustaining relationships.
That’s it. Simple. Simple but not easy, especially in our digital age when time and attention are scarce, choices are many, and loyalty is not guaranteed by merely meeting expectations. Relationships have always been the basis of good business because when we make a buying decision, we need to trust that a favorable outcome is going to result. When we place trust in the company, we’re ultimately placing trust in its people and that’s where the relationship comes in.
At any given time, prospects and clients are in different stages of relationship with you and your business. They range from just learning about you, to having a long history with you. Compare your business relationships on each end of the spectrum to a couple who are just starting to date, and a couple in their 35th year of marriage. How they communicate and what they communicate about is different depending on the depth of their relationship.
However shallow or deep the connection, I have three guidelines to help you use marketing to develop and sustain the kind of relationships that lead to new business, referrals and customer retention.
1. Be Helpful
Create and distribute content that helps people solve their problems. Technology has changed our behavior and we are searching for products and services with the same actions that we use as consumers. We try to self-diagnose our problem, and then we look for solutions. We often don’t want to talk to anyone until we feel like we already have an idea of the direction we want to go.
Creating content for each of the different types of relationships through awareness to retention in the buying journey is a must. The challenge of creating helpful content isn’t usually on the production side, but on the distribution side, but the better you know the people you want to reach, the more targeted you can become with both production and distribution.
2. Be Personal
I was in a prospect meeting recently and the CEO of the organization told me that the partners didn’t feel that telling people about their pets and hobbies was going to do anything to help their business. Right, I agreed.
Being personal with your marketing isn’t about revealing all of your personal details. It’s about not being generic. When you don’t want to be generic you have to be brave about how you put yourself out there. A storytelling approach is the best tool for personalizing your company and your message as well as for getting into your client’s story. The goal with being personal is to engage with the people you want to reach, which leads us directly to the last point.
3. Be Consistent
One word – rapport. Rapport is what you get when people engage with you and it’s the reason why your marketing can never, ever be a one-off and you’re done. Marketing is very much the long-game, not the quick fix. You have to consistently be available with your helpful, personal message because part of the strategy is simply being the one to show up.
The Result of Sustained Relationships
When you develop relationships with people online and off, the result is response. Sure, it doesn’t happen with every single person, but your chances are a whole lot better if they actually know about you than if they didn’t. (joke!)
Need help developing the relationships that will result in new business and referrals? Contact me to start a conversation.