Let's face it. The Internet is here to stay. It's a fast, and easy way to get information, and market a business. It's also relatively inexpensive which is why so many newspapers, and print publications are struggling. For years, marketers were forced to pay lots of money for print advertising, brochures, and collateral material. Today, the Internet has replaced the need for much of this stuff. Even though Internet marketing can be efficient, fast, and effective, however, it cannot replace the value that human contact brings into the workplace.
Ever try to communicate emotions through email? Many of use use the smile face to try and compensate, but it's just not the same.Videoconferencing has become less expensive, and it can often be free through Skype or Google+. But even these communication tools have their limitations.
Most service businesses depend on relationships to survive. They develop trust with clients and friends over time, and that's how they win referrals, repeat business, etc. But, how should a business owner begin the relationship building process at the beginning?
Email and Internet marketing can help build brand awareness, but it's not enough when it comes to building lasting relationships. Nope, the best way to build solid business relationships, is to get out and talk to people. This includes networking where your prospective clients network, and in-person visits to people who are instrumental in helpiing you be successful.
In his book, Work by Referral, Real Estate Consultant, Brian Buffini, talks about three components to working by referral, Contact, Care, and Community. Buffini's book was written for real estate agents interested in working by referral, but his methods can be applied to a wide variety of different businesses.
He talks about developing a contact management system where marketers can keep track of their clients and friends. They can then remember birthdays, favorite sports teams, where their kids go to school, etc. Business people who track this information, and then reach out and communicate interest in the lives of the people they serve, are typically much more successful than those who don't.
The contact management system, however, is only a piece to the puzzle of the relationship puzzle. Getting out and conversing with people is a critical element to building and maintaining friendships. Buffini recommends that real estate agents do occasional in-person visits to past clients and friends. This goes a long way toward having loyal followings going forward.
Have you lost contact with any of your past clients? Maybe it's time to make an in-person visit to see how they're doing. Gestures like these can often go a lot further than emails.
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