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Relationship marketing is a strategic process to develop and grow relationships with people both inside and outside of your circle of influence–customers, prospects, community leaders, elected officials—anyone you value getting to know on a deeper level, and anyone who may become a friend and ally.
Our clients understand the value of relationship marketing, and they turn to us to support their effort. Some already have full plates and are unable to add this into their workload. Others are not comfortable or do not know where to begin to reach out to prospects without a specific ask in mind.
The Bottom Line approach
At Bottom Line, we use a proven process to make relationship marketing work on behalf of our clients. We start by leveraging our own contacts, and we look for and identify other contacts who might benefit from a mutual discussion.
The key to a successful connection is to identify a benefit to the person you want to meet with. What’s in it for them? For most of our relationship marketing meetings, we let contacts know there is no agenda and no sales pitch. There is a desire to meet, learn from one another and possibly, depending on the client’s strategy, talk about a specific idea. We are clear, however, that the meeting is not a sales meeting. It’s about relationship development.
For example, one of our clients has an objective to meet with business and elected officials in the community they serve. We start by identifying the business leaders and elected officials at the local and state level. We invite those leaders to take a tour of our client’s headquarters and spend a little time with the leadership team. The benefit to the prospect is to meet with the company’s executives, gain deeper understanding of the company’s commitment to the community, as well as get an inside look at our client’s facility, something they wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to do.
After the initial meeting, we encourage our clients to send a personalized thank you note and to do any follow up. We look for other opportunities for the client to get back in touch with someone they’ve previously met with. This could be something as simple as forwarding an article the prospect might be interested in. That is made even better if it relates to something that was discussed during the initial meeting.
Bottom Line uses a customer relationship marketing software program to track meetings and follow ups on behalf of our clients. We also generate status reports and contact lists to share with our clients.
Our relationship marketing approach has been successful in strengthening our clients’ reputations in their communities as experts in their fields, reliable partners, and good corporate citizens.
Tips for success
We touched on these tips in a previous blog post, but they’re worth repeating when building and maintaining a relationship:
- Be persistent, but not pesky when scheduling a meeting. Most of us have few openings in our calendars and emails get lost in an inbox that is already full. Stay in touch. Chances are, the other person let it slip and appreciates the follow up.
- Respect others’ time. If you set an appointment for a follow-up meeting, be specific on the start and end time, and adhere to it.
- Know what you’re going to say. It’s best to listen and learn rather than have a specific ask in mind. Get to know the person before you jump in with a request.
- Follow up. A handwritten thank you note is always appreciated.
- Stay in touch periodically. Send an article of interest, a note of congratulations, the latest news release or newsletter about something happening in your company. Always include a personal note and the reason for sending. Periodically, extend an invitation to get together again.
- Be patient. Solid relationships take time to grow.
Give us a call if you would like help expanding your circle of influence. We’d be delighted to help develop a customized plan for you personally or for your business.