In today’s entrepreneur-driven society, it’s not unusual to find that the owner of a small business is also the senior vice president of his one-man marketing department. Since most entrepreneurs enjoy the core operation of their business, it’s common to find them preoccupied with daily minutia and a list of tasks, rather than on the growth and promotion of their company. Add that to the fact that they oftentimes see marketing as a big, hairy beast with blood-drenched fangs ready to suck their wallets dry, and it’s not all that surprising that it permanently resides at the bottom of their priority lists.
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs and real estate investors view marketing as a costly EXPENSE that is unlikely to produce results, and has a return on investment similar to a Vegas slot machine. Their only ideas of advertising and marketing are budget-busting strategies like TV commercials, billboards, and massive branding campaigns. However, what many small business owners neglect to realize is that their most effective (and cheapest) form of marketing is staring at them in the mirror.
Some of the most powerful and consistent sources of leads in my real estate investing business are as a result of relationships that I have built with other “influencers” in my industry. Relationship marketing is nothing more than meeting new people and making connections with those who can send you referrals in the future. However, while it may be “free” to meet a person, it’s going to cost you time and energy if you want to develop them into a strategic relationship that will be a future source of consistent leads for your business.
Making lasting connections and building strategic relationships is sometimes easier said than done, but here are a few quick tips on how to establish those key relationships that are more likely to produce the lasting fruit that you’re looking for.
1.) Look for the “Shy Yes” – When meeting someone for the first time, you don’t want to go all commando-salesman on them, and try to make an over-the-top pitch of yourself right away. That just turns people off and makes you look like a goober. You simply want to look for that “shy yes” to start the conversation. I always liken it to a dating relationship. The purpose of the first meeting is simply to get a second meeting, perhaps for coffee or even lunch. If you propose on the first date, you have a very high likelihood of being turned down, not to mention having a restraining order filed against you. But if you take the time to build a deep emotional relationship with the object of your affection, and show them you are worth having around, then your chances of a BIG YES are increased significantly.
2.) Tweet, Facebook, & Get Linked In! – The rise of social media has introduced a great non-threatening way to build strategic relationships slowly over time. It is another tool in your arsenal that can help get you the “shy yes” you are looking for, and make a lasting connection. However, the same warning about “pitching” to soon applies to social media as well. If I accept a new “friend”, and his next 12 posts are only about his new multi-level marketing “opportunity”, he will be un-friended as fast as he came in. Social media is meant to be just that…SOCIAL! So, take the time to post compelling content, and let your new connections get to know more about you personally before you ask for a meeting.
3.) Make Sure Everyone Wins – I have a lot of people who want to meet with me to discuss how we could “work together” on different businesses. However, it doesn’t take very long to realize that by “work together”, they mean they want to tap into my contacts and database I’ve spent years building for their own selfish gain, with very little in it for me. As you might expect, these are typically VERY short meeting.
After you’ve started the conversation with an “influencer” and built a relationship, you want to make sure to craft your message to include a TRULY win/win relationship. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and since you know your business inside and out and are excited about, the unfortunate tendency is to have a one-sided conversation that’s all about you. Make sure you take a step back, and consider the needs of the person at the other end of the table, and answer the question for them, “What’s in it for us?”
4.) Don’t Be Afraid to rub a Few Elbows – While I can teach a lot of exotic ways to try and make connections, and employ an effective relationship marketing campaign, the fact remains that nothing works better than some good ‘ol fashioned networking. In my local area there are numerous groups to be involved with, such as LEADers, Biznetlink, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Prosperous Christian, and of course, the Professional Investors Guild. Groups like these allow you to get beyond the need for a “shy yes”, because those in attendance are already there for the purpose of meeting you, and networking together about sharing business leads and opportunities. So, don’t let the opportunity pass you by! The guy who sits in his chair and never talks to a soul is usually the one complaining about how his business hasn’t quite taken off yet. Shake some hands, rub elbows, and talk to some people you’ve never met…and you’ll quickly see the fruits of your labor.
Have you tried relationship marketing in your business? How has it helped? What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur in regards to making lasting relationships? We’d love to hear your thoughts below!