Let's talk about relationship marketing. What is relationship marketing? Wikipedia defines it as “something that was first defined as a form of marketing developed from direct response marketing campaigns, which emphasizes customer attention and satisfaction rather than a focus on sales transactions.” So relationship marketing differs because it's really focusing on customer relationships and not just transactional sales. Of course, everybody wants to make sales, and relationship marketing is something that takes time. It's not something that just happens overnight. We've all seen the guy walk through the room handing out business cards and grabbing business cards and then the next thing you know you end up on an email list or you start getting phone calls. That, my friends, is not relationship marketing. Why is that? Because it's not authentic. True relationship marketing means that you care as much about the other person, their problem and how you can help them solve it, than you do about making a sale. So, my first book, “It's Not About You, It's About Bacon – Relationship Marketing and the Social Media World,” is really about relationship marketing, with online components, and one of the core concepts, which you've heard time and time again, is know, like and trust. In the book, I define what know, like and trust is really all about.
The first thing is know. I believe that getting to know somebody starts with a smile and a handshake. One of the most incredible tools in a business person's arsenal is sitting down and having a coffee, beer or a glass of wine and doing the one-on-one. The whole purpose of that one-on-one is to really get to know the other person. You want to find out who they are, what makes them tick and how you as a business person can help solve their problems. It could be connecting them to their perfect client. It could be that you have a relationship with somebody who could be a good vendor for them. Whatever it is, it's really about getting to know somebody on a one-on-one level. It's hard to do that by just shaking somebody's hand and talking to them for two or three minutes. It's an investment. You have to invest some time.
The next thing is like. Like is where you start to become like-minded. One of the first things I do when I give presentations is show a picture of my wife and my dog. Then I talk about me golfing and that I'm a musician and I play guitar at church and in a two-man band. What I am doing is opening up some core competencies that other people can relate to. Maybe they like pets and maybe they're into animal rescues. Maybe they're married and/or they like to golf. It all starts with understanding how you can start to connect with somebody. Next what you're doing to building that relationship online. You can build it face-to-face if you're consistently going to networking meetings and spending a little time talking about some of those things. When building the relationship online, like on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, if you're talking about the things that you're passionate about, other people will chime in. One of the things that I do every single day on social media is post a quote of the day in the morning and then I post a caption contest at night.
The quote of the day is a motivational quote or inspirational quote that people love, so they comment, like and share. The caption contest is a really goofy picture and all I say is “Caption this,” and people start to caption. It could be thirty, fifty or a hundred people, and again there are some likes and shares. That is one way to create a very simple relationship with people who you can connect with online. The best thing about that is it's content that they easily consume and it gets your products, services and messages noticed more online.
The third piece of this puzzle is trust. Now trust is where transactions happen, and somebody has to be able to trust you enough to do one of those things. One of two things can happen. They need your services and they're going to purchase from you because you happen to be the right person, and usually most sales start with a conversation, so that trust has to be earned. The other thing that they might do is they might recommend you to somebody and say, “I know somebody who does this and does it well, and I know, like and trust them, so give them a call.” Again, that referral starts with a conversation.
It's A Process
So the know, like and trust is a process and you can't skip any of those steps. That's what relationship marketing is all about, but then it goes a little further. It becomes authentic. You have to be you. One of the problems that I see all the time is people say, “I don't want to be myself on social media, I want to be my brand.” The problem is people don't do business with other businesses. People do business with people, so it behooves you to realize that you as a person are your brand. Yes, your business has a brand, but you as a person are a brand and you need to build that brand up as somebody who is trustworthy, somebody who is likable, somebody who is knowledgeable. It's about getting that brand up there on a personal level. So if you really want to be successful using social media to generate business, you have to be social. I always say that social media is the medium, and social networking is about people. Being authentic means being the real you. I know a lot of friends that I meet who love talking to face-to-face, but when they go online they end up posting very divisive stuff. It could be about politics or religion, but whatever it is they're posting their opinions, and unfortunately that does tend to change people's opinion of you face-to-face.
Whatever you do, try to be you, but also be a little bit guarded about letting all of you hang out. You want to be somebody who is more concerned about other people's feelings rather than how you feel and trying to make other people believe what you believe. So authenticity is really about being the real person who you are. You're going to take yourself and use that as part of the branding online. Whether you're posting pictures or articles or anything to Facebook, there's nothing wrong with posting it to your business page, but then share it and don't be afraid to share it as yourself online. If you wouldn't want that to be something that people see, then why are you posting it to your business page anyway? You should not be out there just selling, selling, selling, you should be out there helping, helping, helping. It's all about being a resource to other people. It's all about being the Google. That's what relationship marketing is all about. It starts off with understanding the process of know, like and trust, but it's also about building real relationships that may or may not directly affect you and your business. It's all about how you can be a resource to other people.
The first thing I suggest you do is get out there. In your local area, get out and meet people. You never know the interesting people you're going to be able to find. Go to meetup.com and see if you can find any groups that might match your interests. It could be about your hobbies. It could be directly about business, but find people to network with. The second thing is when you're friending people online, make sure that you do your research. Is this somebody that you want to be associated with? Is this somebody that you actually can have a great relationship with or are they going to be divisive and as their stuff shows up on your wall, it could affect you. Rule number one, drop an F bomb, you are cut from my list, that's it. The same thing goes with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus or anything. You have to be willing to share great information and allow other people to share stuff on your wall as well.
Then trust happens when people get to know, like and trust you and they feel like they really understand that you care about them. I've always said this, “People don't care what you know until they know that you care”, so give them that attitude. Give them all of yourself and be authentic when you're posting things online. Give them a reason to want to know, like and trust you, and maybe do business with you someday.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments and maybe some other limiting beliefs you have overcome!
To learn more about this and other topics on Internet Marketing, visit our podcast website at http://www.baconpodcast.com/podcasts/
Brian – good thoughtful post, for what is essentially a personal marketing post. I do like your emphasis on personal trust and mutual benefit, rather than cramming a “sale” down some poor “prospect’s” throat!
Bob… Thanks for your comment and feedback!
The “It’s a process” part is the part our culture really struggles with, in my opinion. We want it all right now. Investing in the process is becoming a lost value. Thanks for raising that banner high here!