A few years ago, I got asked, “What’s relationship marketing, and how do you start growing your practice?” Now, in today’s world, we’re all about building connections and client growth, so let’s dive into relationship marketing and how to make it work for you.
Relationship marketing is like using your superpowers to build a community, grow your practice, and create lasting connections that enhance your expertise. Think of it as a more sophisticated way of doing that trusty “word-of-mouth” reputation building. You know, doing excellent work and hoping your clients spread the good word to their colleagues and friends. That strategy is solid, but why not level it up to ensure you’re consistently generating new business?
Why should you, as a modern professional, care about relationship marketing?
Two big reasons: Firstly, it helps you spot trends and insights with your current clients to serve them even better and retain their loyalty. Secondly, it’s the secret sauce to winning over potential clients.
To kickstart your journey, start by honing your listening skills. There are tons of tools at your disposal, both social and otherwise. Assuming you’ve already identified your target audience, find out where they hang out and start tuning in. Here are some options (but not an exhaustive list):
- Industry publications
- Business journals
- Virtual and in-person conferences
- Unbilled client visits
You don’t need to use every tool on the list to succeed. The key to strategic relationship marketing is understanding who your primary audience is and where they dwell. These are the places you want to be present, not only to interact but also to listen and learn what they’re passionate about, their concerns, trends, influential figures, and more.
Once you’ve done your homework, it’s time to engage. I’m a fan of content marketing and curation, but you can adapt it to your style. For instance, you could nurture a community by writing a blog and sharing your posts online. Encourage discussions by posing questions to your audience. Perhaps you’d like to connect with key figures in your industry; in that case, start a podcast and invite them as guests, potentially turning online connections into offline relationships. Share valuable content from various sources, not just your own, and be sure to engage with those who respond, as well as other industry peers.
By strategically developing and refining your word-of-mouth reputation in today’s fast-paced world, you’ll excel at retaining your current clients and landing more work from them while also attracting new clients.