Relationships take TME — Time, Money and Energy — to establish, build and maintain. It is far too easy to lose a relationship you might have had in the past with a particular customer, vendor or other stakeholder.
The process of life is that it is always evolving and changing. Smart marketers, who I like to call “Relationship Farmers,” know about this and keep nurturing the process.
You might have had a great experience with that customer a while back. Hey, they loved you and your stuff! They loved the experience that was created. Too often it is easy to sit back, relax and think that it will continue like that forever.
Not on this planet, Sparky!
Things keep changing and you have to continually nurture a relationship to keep it healthy, vibrant and alive. New vendors enter into the lives of your customers. New methods develop that can make obsolete your old process and tools. Also, you know that great contact you had at ABC Co. a while back? Well, she got a better job offer with XYZ co. and is no longer with ABC.
So what can you do to keep relationships growing and maintain them? Here are some steps that can help you.
1. Realize that relationship marketing is on-going
You've got to keep nurturing and using what Jim Cecil has called “drip marketing.” Stay in touch. Send them a quick email with something that will help them grow their business. Don't just blast email (or social media) about your product, your webinar or your event.
Engage with important people by giving them something that is helpful to them, not just about you! You've got to stay on their mind in a favorable way.
2. Build a system that facilitates nurturing
The kind of system you need will require thinking and work. It can't be haphazard. It has to be something that will help you plan and implement. Remember birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates for important people. Feed that system accordingly.
I remember talking to Bob Danzig, the former CEO of Hearst Publications, a while back when he shared one of their beautiful practices. He said one of the biggest expenditures they had was with Tiffany's and other places buying and sending gifts for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals and more. They also spent a lot on flowers.
Bob told me, “Terry, that was some of the best money we spent.” It helped to build and maintain relationships with key people. Think of how you can do that. It is a vitally important investment for your future.
3. Be willing to pay the price in TME
This type of Relationship Marketing doesn't come cheap. It will cost you in TME (Time, Money and Energy). Yet, this is what we value today with social media. It is what we've valued forever in human relationships. Invest in people by paying this price and you will go far. Think about anyone who is really successful. They have invested in people in order to achieve their goals.
Yes, it will cost. But, yes, it is well worth it and will pay you rich dividends not only in money, but in a meaningful, quality life helping others and being there for them.
Be a Relationship Farmer. Pay the price to invest in relationships and you'll be glad you did.
This article was originally published by Terry Brock in The Business Journals.