Relationship Building Strategies (i.e. Marketing!)

Marketing. This word is known for dredging up one of our greatest fears in our business -"Will they think I'm too pushy and am really a former used car salesperson?" It's true. Every client has some version of dread around marketing. The "used car salesperson" has a bad rap because they are known for pushing a car on you without knowing anything about you. That's where you differ. You know the secret behind marketing -or will now - marketing is really about building relationships. That's it. It can be that simple.

When you are building relationships your ideal potential client gets to know you over time, they understand what you do, they see examples and see testimonials of your work. You build your trust with them. You build your "expert status". When the timing is right, the effort you spent building the relationship will pay off - over and over again!

Here are 10 of my favorite ways of building relationships with clients and potential clients. Do yourself a favor. Pick three ways and do them well. Do them over and over again. Don't start trying to get all ten ways off the ground - you'll have a tough time maintaining them all. Pick your top three, based on your natural skills and passions. Implement them consistently and with commitment to the relationship!

Better yet, get your copy now of the Joyful Business Guide™ System and you'll have a template to follow for creating your "Business Relationship Funnel." You'll experience that readers or listeners will become raving fans!

1. Send an Online Newsletter or Ezine

This is a must for every business. Publishing an online newsletter is the easiest and relatively inexpensive way to stay in touch frequently with clients and potential clients. There are many formats you can follow, from a longer more informative article, to a short inspiring tip! What to put in your newsletter? We'll talk about specific ideas in an upcoming issue, but in short, you want to share your knowledge, resources, and tips in little sound bites. You become the "Google" clearinghouse for your particular area of expertise. Your readers will start looking to you for information as "the" resource for your expertise.

2. Send a Print Newsletter

I know I just said to publish an online newsletter and now I'm suggesting a print newsletter? Even if you publish online it's a good idea to stay in touch with a hands-on copy of a newsletter. With the unreliability of your core marketing method (online) you want to make sure that you reach out and touch base with something they can hold on to and carry with them. It also increases your credibility with a polished and professional newsletter. It looks like you have a team helping you (which you'll want!) and you look like you can afford to mail "real mail"! Not to mention the confidence factor!

3. Send a Postcard (via snail mail)

If you don't want to invest the time for a print newsletter then send a postcard. A postcard is becoming a popular way to send a quick message to follow up after a meeting, keep in touch and remind them you are here, or to launch a new service or product. In my neighborhood, we were hit by a hail storm a few months ago. Now everyone is getting a new roof because of the severe damage. We just received a postcard in our mailbox from the roofing company we are thinking of using. It said "41 new roofs in your neighborhood" - wow. That's all they had to say to help convince me of their expertise. And I loved how simple it was. Of course, your business will publish a more polished and professional card! One of my favorite resources is www.sendoutasmile.com.

4. Offer a Free Teleclass

Hosting a free teleclass is a low cost way to share your expertise. I lead a monthly Joyful Business Success Strategy teleclass for free as a way of giving current clients a perk (and a kick in the accountability seat!), and to give potential clients a sample of what I do. Because they can hear your voice, get a feel for your personality and see your expertise in action, potential clients will develop a trust in you more quickly than if they haven't heard you. This means that in a consultation they already know, like and trust you (key for developing a lasting relationship).

5. Create a Free CD for as a Signature Giveaway

I recently used this Relationship Building strategy at the Association of Image Consultants Conference. We gave a complimentary CD of a recorded teleclass from our booth. The CD was "Creating Your Business Attraction Plan". And let me tell you, the consultants were impressed! I asked for their email address and let them know we would give them a free gift of our CD and they would receive our newsletter to support their success. They loved it! Again, it's a great credibility booster - not only because it's very professional but it also has a high perceived value. And of course, unlike a little chatchke giveway, they'll go home and listen in and get to hear my voice, my expertise, and experience my personality. It goes a long way in building the relationship. CDs are pretty expensive as well -about $1.00 - $1.25 each. They make a very noticeable calling card too!

6. Create a Referral System

Many consultants and professional service business owners thrive on referrals, but have you thought of making your referral system more formal? Let your satisfied clients know that you reward referrals! This can be as simple as sending a gift card, flowers or a special candle, or as systemized as having an affiliate program. My clients know we have a Joyful Business affiliate program and they'll receive $62 for any of their colleagues who buy a Joyful Business Guide through their referral. It's an easy way to reach more people and - this is key - there is a transfer of trust in the process because it's a known person who is recommending you.

7. Pick up the phone and call them!

This one seems obvious but in this online world we sometimes forget that we can "reach out and touch someone" through the phone. Ok, so maybe you're likely to get a voice mail. But how wonderful is it to receive a message or a phone call just asking how is it going and do you like the product you purchased? This is a very personal way of building a relationship and it shows you care. You might be surprised by how many times they want to buy something else or schedule another service!

8. Publish a Blog

A blog is an online journal that can be used for business purposes. Remember we talked about being a "Google" for your clients. Well, a blog is a great way to write and publish short snippets of resources, tips, thoughts, and perspectives about what you offer. It's also a great format for showing some personality and glimpses into your life. Those of you who have read my blog Cafe Entrepreneur know that I have two kids, you hear about how I run my business while I travel, and you see photos of my clients and hear their successes. Again, we are in this very impersonal world of online marketing so you need to make an impression and let people know that you are a real person behind the computer screen. A blog is also easy to publish and update. My favorite blogging platform is TypePad (www.typepad.com).

9. Share Audio Tips

Many people prefer to get their information via an auditory method. So even if you offer a newsletter in a written format, you want to consider adding audio to your marketing mix. Publishing short audio tips is an easy way to create a consistent "keep in touch" format that attracts a lot of attention for those who want to hear your voice.

10. Publish a Podcast

A podcast is simply an audio publication. Creating a podcast is as simple as creating a name for your "program" and then recording yourself interviewing experts in this area. It's amazing how your interviews with experts builds your own expert status (remember you are the "Google" clearinghouse for your clients). You are bringing the best of the best to them -which saves them time, effort and money.

My Joyful Business Podcast is published every two weeks. It's loaded on my blog (see previous strategy) and then is syndicated to various other audio publishers like iTunes (don't worry, many recording programs offer the publishing option so it's easy).

If you want to create a strategic business attraction plan, then you'll want to get the Joyful Business Guide™ System.

Bonus: Remember to keep it simple, easy and consistent!

If you would like to use this article in your newsletter or blog please feel free to do as long as you include our credit information: Written by Laura Howard West, Center for Joyful Business (www.joyfulbusiness.com). I would also appreciate it if you'd send us a copy for our media files.

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Laura West is an award-winning entrepreneur, and president and founder of the Center for Joyful Business. As a certified business coach, author and speaker, she helps thousands of women entrepreneurs create successful businesses filled with passion, purpose and prosperity. She is known for making marketing simple and fun for passion-based business owners. She is also the author and creator of Joyful Business Guide™ Home Study System, and she is author of the upcoming book, Awakening Your Inner Business Goddess. She is also the Fresh Entrepreneur Expert at Ladies Who Launch.com and creator of their Fresh Entrepreneur workshop and workbook program.

If you are interested in having Ms. West speak for your organization, membership club, teleseminar, or Internet radio show, please contact her Media and Marketing Manager, Dawn Goldberg, at dawn@joyfulbusiness.com. For more media information, please visit: www.centerforjoyfulbusiness.com/media.html.

Visit our website for your free Business Goddess Manifesto at www.JoyfulBusiness.com.

© 2008 - 2010 Laura H. West and the Center for Joyful Business. All rights reserved.