Expert Advice on the Importance of Business Relationships

February 19, 2013


If you ask someone about the term inbound marketing, you will hear a lot about creating great content, implementing calls to action to generate leads and then nurturing those leads and converting them into customers. Each of these strategies is tangible, but often in marketing your business, it’s the intangible that sets you apart from your competition. One of those intangibles would be the relationships formed through using inbound marketing.

Below you’ll find expert opinions on how to cultivate business relationships, how to build relationships with the Connected Generation (a generation marked by high adoption of technology) and techniques to nurture customer relationships.

Business Relationships Infographic | Fiore Communications

On Building Relationships through Social Media

Social media plays an important role in inbound marketing by helping to connect you with like-minded followers and making thought leaders accessible to you in ways unheard of just a few short years ago. But social media isn’t just a way to aggregate your blog posts and talk about yourself, as many companies use it. It is a way to foster relationships and become more to them than just a logo and a mission statement.

In her article on social media and relationship building for startups, Katie Leimkuehler points out that this process of cultivating relationships takes time. While it can be frustrating to start using social media with just a few followers, it’s up to all businesses, startup or not, to engage in other ways when getting active on social media. Katie defines engagement as promoting other companies, talking about new products on the market and sharing articles that would be interesting to your following. To make this work, being active daily on social media is essential.

On Relationships and the Connected Generation

Relationship building may seem old school compared to all the new technologies and tools available to the Connected Generation. Instead of relationships, some companies think cool apps and flashy websites are needed to reach what seems to be a relationship-resistant generation glued to their phones and the Internet.

Ryan Hanley’s post on content marketing to attract the Connected Generation reveals that this generation isn’t resistant to relationships at all. In fact, what they’re wanting is more authentic relationships marked by intimacy, vulnerability and humility shared via the use of rich media such as video, podcasts and content that tells a story.  Ryan also shows that the content other people create about you in the form of testimonials, recommendations and reviews convince the Connected Generation that they can trust doing business with you.

On Nurturing Customer Relationships

Inbound marketing isn’t just about building relationships to attract new customers. Blogging, social media and email are essential to keep in contact with your current customers and increase trust in your brand and grow your repeat business.  Remember, it’s current satisfied customers that will leave you positive reviews on sites such as Yelp and leave you testimonials about your services or products.

To nurture these relationships, Lashanna Ross’ post on building solid customer relationships highlights the importance of keeping the lines of communication open. Lashanna stresses creating a communications plan using blogging and email that engages your current customers on a regular basis. She also insists on finding opportunities to thank and nurture your loyal customers. Building customer loyalty can simply be expressing your gratitude and thanks to your customers and providing incentives for referrals. Using inbound marketing techniques to reach and serve your current customers is a practice that will also help you serve new customers more effectively.

What has been the most effective technique for you to build new relationships or strengthen the relationships with your existing customers? Leave a comment below to share your experiences.

Jeff Machado Headshot | Fiore CommunicationsJeff Machado is a content marketing strategist at Fiore Communications. You can follow him on Twitter and ask him your inbound marketing questions. 



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  1. Ryan Hanley says:

    February 19, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

    From everything I’ve ever learned about content marketing the term seems to really mean just a fancy way of saying relationship building online.

    But content marketing is much sexier.

    Thanks for including me in a great post.

    Hanley

  2. Jeff Machado says:

    February 21, 2013 @ 8:47 am

    Ryan,

    Thanks for stopping by! You’re absolutely right. Content is basically the conversation starter, the spark that gets people to notice you. But, it can only take you so far. That’s why building a list is so important – to take the relationship further than just a drive-by blog reading.

    It was a pleasure to include you in this post. As a Connected Generation guy myself, it helped me make sense of why some companies get my attention no problem and why others (who may have awesome stuff that I’d be interested in) aren’t doing anything to attract me.

  3. Adrienne says:

    February 21, 2013 @ 8:38 am

    Hi Jeff,

    I preach all the time over at my blog that you need to build relationships with your readers because they’re the ones that truly matter if you’re building a business.

    Now I use my blog as my tool to do just that and I start by asking people for a phone number when they opt-in. I then call them just to introduce myself and ask them if they need any assistance with anything.

    It’s a conversation starter, it breaks the ice and it’s all about them. We know how important that is don’t we.

    I love this message, it’s dear to my heart so thanks for sharing this one.

    Have a fabulous day.

    ~Adrienne

  4. Jeff Machado says:

    February 21, 2013 @ 8:56 am

    @Adrienne, I really appreciate you taking the time to visit and comment here.

    That’s a great tip about adding the phone number on the opt in page. While that may be scary for some people, I see that there’s trust there when they provide that number and a signal that they’re ready to make an investment in the relationship themselves.

    It’s a message that’s also dear to my heart because I avoided it for so long. I used to be a very “cold” SEO guy but I’ve really seen how focusing on relationships helps me actually close the gap between the guy I am offline vs the guy I am online.

    Jeff

  5. Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca says:

    March 5, 2013 @ 9:40 am

    @Adrienne, Annnnd of course you’re here… sharing love and building relationships with Jeff.

    There’s a reason you won FirepoleMarketing.com ‘s Engagement Award 🙂

    I love it 🙂

  6. Brigitte says:

    February 24, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    Great article. The best way I found is like Adrienne says, call up people or meet on Skype to break the ice. I do this all the time to really get to know people so I know what they need and how I can truly help them.

    It may be taking more time but this way I do know my people and can refer one to another for real when it happens that two I’ve talked to can work together.

    This also allows me to keep a line with each that is much more personal than if I’ve never talked to them. And I follow up via postal mail rather than email.

    Hope this helps.

    Brigitte

  7. Jeff Machado says:

    March 5, 2013 @ 9:57 am

    @Brigitte, I really appreciate the comment (sorry for the delay!)

    Those are all fantastic relationship building strategies you mention. I struggled a lot in the beginning with online marketing because I felt being social meant I had to give up my social life.

    However, I’m finding that I’m meeting people that love the things I do and enjoy genuine conversations. Sure, it’s not the same as going out to eat but the topics of conversation are so engaging that it’s completely worth it!

    Jeff

  8. Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca says:

    March 5, 2013 @ 9:38 am

    Verrry cool, Jeff!

    I wish someone told me this when I was starting. Then again, there’s about 100 insanely important things I wish I was told at the beginning.

    It feels like I was taught everything backwards: “make money”, “turn a profit”.

    Yeah, right.

    Do that WITHOUT:
    -A Powerful Why, based on Timeless Principles
    -Mentors, partners, peers, followers — A Support Network
    -Self-Worth, personal power, and the ability to command attention through your flaws & quirks.

    HahaHAHAha… good luck.

    I defy anyone to make sustainable, fun profit while ignoring these 3 core things.

    P.S. love the quotable graphic 🙂

  9. Jeff Machado says:

    March 5, 2013 @ 10:02 am

    @Jason “J-Ryze” Fonceca, I’m right there with you. I started in 2008 and made so many mistakes along the way because no one ever talked about these fundamentals.

    Wasn’t it an awesome moment when everything clicked and you realized building an audience + relationships = the foundation of online marketing? Breath of fresh air, 100%.

    “sustainable, fun profit” – there’s so much to be said about this! I was writing about this very topic this morning.

    Glad you like the graphic – it’s been a great way to organize the awesome content that people are creating.

    Jeff

  10. Dan Black says:

    March 18, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

    Great post, I have found both online and offline relationships are essential to have. I have learned people want to connect and know you care before they become fans to you and your message.

  11. Jared Latigo says:

    March 21, 2013 @ 7:05 am

    Seriously…I thought there was no way you would have been on this blog already! Dude, you are my connection hero. @Dan Black

  12. Jeff Machado says:

    March 21, 2013 @ 7:08 am

    Jared,

    Dan is 100% a great connector as well as yourself. I like how these comments are taking place in a blog post about relationships too – you two are people that embody the lessons in this article from what I know about you so far.

    Jeff

  13. Dan Black says:

    March 21, 2013 @ 11:46 am

    @Jared Latigo, Ha, thanks bro!:)

    Thanks Jeff. I have found it’s all about connecting and building relationships with others.

  14. Jared Latigo says:

    March 21, 2013 @ 7:09 am

    Great article man, really well done! Probably my favorite line is

    “In fact, what they’re wanting is more authentic relationships marked by intimacy, vulnerability and humility shared via the use of rich media such as video, podcasts and content that tells a story.”

    I can’t tell you how true that really is. Glad I found this blog, it’s a great resource, keep it up! I love your ideas on connection and how important it really is. They go hand in hand with mine!

  15. Jeff Machado says:

    April 4, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

    @Jared Latigo, I’m glad you found the blog useful! We haven’t updated it in a while since we’ve been working on a free report (which is launching tomorrow it seems!)

    Relationships and the Connection Brand definitely go well together. I’m looking forward to giving your book a second read.

    Jeff

  16. Dave Arnold says:

    March 29, 2013 @ 7:14 am

    Great stuff, Jeff. I have met some amazing people through social media. It’s the reality of our “brave new world” & essential to sharing our “voice” in the world. Glad we connected!

  17. Jeff Machado says:

    April 1, 2013 @ 5:45 am

    @Dave Arnold, Glad we connected as well! Social media has been an amazing tool to help me build relationships in ways I never would have before.

    What’s even more interesting is that I know I haven’t used it to its full potential and have already had great things happen. I have also seen how everything is more meaningful when you build relationships – blogging, writing reports or anything that another person could benefit. Knowing who the other people are and caring about them makes the work more satisfying.

  18. LaShanna Ross says:

    March 31, 2013 @ 9:52 am

    Thanks Jeff for sharing my thoughts and the other great tips on the importance of building relationships! This is one of the most critical assets we have as business owners and presents us with the unique opportunity to enrich the customer’s and our business experience, create loyalty, and accelerate our the success of our lives and business ventures.

  19. Jeff Machado says:

    April 1, 2013 @ 5:47 am

    @LaShanna Ross, Thanks for stopping by LaShanna. It was a joy to be able to feature you. It’s sad that a lot of companies do so much to attract customers yet do very little to keep the lines of communication open once they have started doing business together. We didn’t want to ignore this when talking about business relationships!

  20. Antoine Martiano says:

    April 9, 2013 @ 4:49 am

    Thanks Jeff for sharing these experts’ insights with us. I most agree with Ms. Ross that “quality and consistent communication is the key to building solid business relationships.” If you communicate often, it shows you’re interested in building business with them.

  21. Jeff Machado says:

    April 10, 2013 @ 11:28 am

    @Antoine Martiano, Absolutely agreed! I spend a lot of time thinking about what constitutes quality communication – how can I most effective help people in the small amount of time they spend with me?

    It’s a question that yields amazing dividends if one actually reflects on it and makes attempts to answer it.

    And consistency – we want our friends to contact us regularly, why should the people we do business with be any different?

    Thanks for your insights!