Business is Relationships – Online and Off!

Customers are behind the pie chart!

Relationships.  That’s life.  It’s business too!  Business is all about relationships whether you are online or off.

How do you build relationships online so that people will want to do business with you?

And if your business is primarily offline, like a service or s shop, how to you continue to build those relationships online?

Remember, there is a person, there are people behind that pie-chart and those graphs and those analytics!

Relationships are at the very core of your business.  You must hold them as dear and treat them as carefully as your spouse or your children or they will go away.  All of them!

While I’m not suggesting that you bring your clients and customers flowers or take them out to the park to toss a ball around, I am suggesting taking good care of them.  Customers will tell other people about their experiences with your business, good or bad.

[Bad, they will talk about it even more!  So you need to make it good!]

Social Media

Depending on your business, you might be able to start a group online, like a Facebook group.  This can be a great way to build relationships because members of the group will get to know you better if you are present and share with them.  It’s a great place to answer questions too and in a group, you have the ability to start and control discussions.

A group might not be appropriate for your biz, but you certainly should have a Facebook page. This is not your personal page, so you want to limit the cutesy cat pics, but a funny-something now and then will not go amiss!

For your Facebook page, you want to keep it light and positive but post frequently.  Post useful information that people who would frequent your shop would be interested in.  Or something cute that relates to your business.  And what you are thinking about it.  Make your presence known.  Post pictures about what is going on in the office today!  Be real.

This may seem one-sided, as you are doing all the posting and not getting much response, but keep at it.  People will see it. You are building trust and keeping your business alive in the minds of people who will come into your shop one day – maybe the first time, maybe a repeat!

Influencers

The big buzzword on the internet lately seems to be “influencers.”  Everyone is looking for an influencer!

If you’ve got one, reach out to him/her!  One of the quickest ways to get more peeps for yo is to let influencers help you.

OMG!  Help?  Did I say help?

Yes, we’re back to that whole relationship thing, remember?  As people and as business-people, we need to learn to ask for help, receive help and give help!

In order for an influencer to help you, you will need to build a relationship there too.  You can’t expect to just call someone who has worked hard and created a certain amount of status as a go-to person and say “hey, will you help me?”

If you do, you would have to expect them to answer … “Like … who are you?!”

Build a relationship with them, get to know them and see what you can do for them before you approach them about joint ventures or promotion opportunities.  Think about what you can offer them.

That being said, don’t sit around avoiding making any contact with influencers thinking that you have to build up a following a millions before they will even talk to you!  There may be something else entirely that you are not even thinking of, that you are good at, that would help them tremendously.   Get to know them and see what that might be.

Being Real

Be real.  Again, life imitates business!  I think being real and transparent is imperative for love, for life, for business, for politics, for a better world!

Be you and be human and treat your customers well and real.   You don’t want to be robotic or so formal that people aren’t even sure if they are speaking to you or a computer when you answer the phone!

Be friendly, ask questions and get to know people and show that you care about them.  And listen!

Listen!

Most people go about their work every day, do a good job and get no acknowledgement, no kudos, no respect even!  But they still go and do a good job.  A few questions from you, a few minutes of listening, a little bit of acknowledgement could make their day.

It could make their day and give you valuable information as to what makes them tick, what they need,  and what you might be able to do to help them.

Like mama said, you have two ears and one mouth so engage with your customers but let them do most of the talking!

Keep it Going

Once you’ve established a relationship with someone, keep it going. Like any relationship, if you ignore it, it will just die.   Keep the lines of communication open.

Build a list online and off.  Ask for emails.  Ask your customers to recommend others!  This is so simple and yet business owners forget to ask!

Segment your list in ways that have meaning to your business and send useful information to your customers based on their needs that they discussed with you!

Build Trust

Be you.  Be transparent.  Never lie, ever.  Tell people what you are going to do and stick to it.  Send helpful information, not sales flyers!  This builds trust with people.  That’s transferable you know?

I have the greatest auto mechanic on the earth, right on the corner of my block.

Is he the cutest? The cheapest? The most timely?  While he does pretty good on all those, I could forgive the bill or the lateness because he has the one thing, the most important thing – he is trustworthy.  Absolutely.  If he told me tomorrow that I needed a transmission, I would be sad but I would believe him.  And that is the first thing I tell people about him.

And that is why they take my word and go there.  They trust me and they know that going to an auto shop can be risky for the wallet and they know how important it is to find someone you can trust.  The trust he built with me is transferable.

Now you might be in the business of selling unicorns and have less ability to hold someone’s wallet and livelihood hostage, but still … if you want more people to come to your shop and buy your unicorns, you need to build trust.

Inbound Marketing

Start thinking about inbound marketing and how you can put those principles into play for your marketing.  Your message should be something your peeps want to hear, are looking for and not something that interrupts them for no good reason like a telemarketer during dinner!  Your posts and emails shouldn’t be “you wanna buy something?  No?  How about now?”

They all should be about building those relationships so that when people are ready to buy something, they will remember you and want to buy from you.

Think about branding so that every single thing you put out, whether it’s a post on Facebook or Twitter, an eBook or article, a webinar or a tote bag – so that everything helps the customer in some way.

Relationships Gone Bad

Like any relationship, sometimes things don’t go so well.  Stuff happens.  Sometimes customers have a bad experience and complain.  Loudly.  Or all over social media.

Hang on!  It’s not the end of the world.  Try to look at the complaints as opportunities to show your customer [and the other customers especially on social media] what you are made of and how you do business.

Don’t attack.  See what you can do to solve the problem.  Always remember that all your customers are watching you!  For more on customer complaints and how to handle them, check out my Customer Complaints Are Important [slides] or my blog post How to Handle Customer Complaints!

Business is all about relationships.  How can you help your customers today?

Patt
Patt Timlin is a marketing expert set on sharing her expertise with other online marketers to help them achieve the dream of working online. She is secretly pleased with the surge in content marketing as revenge of the English majors! Entrepreneur, blogger, guide, helper – Patt loves the online world and loves to share it!

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About the Author patttimlin@att.net

Patt Timlin is a marketing expert set on sharing her expertise with other online marketers to help them achieve the dream of working online. She is secretly pleased with the surge in content marketing as revenge of the English majors! Entrepreneur, blogger, guide, helper - Patt loves the online world and love to share it!

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