In today’s business world, networking is all the rage, everyone is communicating via some sort of social media platform, joining groups and forums of one kind or the other. So much energy that used to focus solely on sales has now been refocused on “creating relationships”. Does it work? Is it worth it? Have we lost sight of creating revenue and increasing the bottom line?
“I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I can never find out which half” (John Wannamaker) I think that many people still feel this way and is one of the reasons that new methods of generating business has been created. Networking is not new, it has been around for a very long time, probably as long as there has been commerce, what is changing is how we network ourselves. When I lived in Las Vegas and ran a marketing company I used to go to various “meet and greets” to meet and socialize with other business owners and executives, today I can do this without leaving my office, and I can meet new people thousands of miles away just as easily as those that are around the corner. The goal in relationship marketing is not to sell a product or service, but to sell yourself, to make yourself desirable in terms of others wanting to know you. Unlike traditional sales relationship marketing is looking to create a lifetime relationship with someone who will buy over and over, and will keep coming back because of the relationship they have with you. It’s about brand awareness not just focusing on a one time sale and moving on, and it takes more time to build this relationship than it does to make that one sale, but in the end the return on investment is substantially higher.
You must have the ability to reach and connect with people as individuals in order to get them to take action and you need to be able to keep their business for a lifetime, relationship marketing means that you have to adapt to your customers as individuals (http://www.allbusiness.com/sales/customer-service/264033-1.html).
At the end of the day every business is trying to sell its product or service, this has not changed, but think about it, it is much easier to sell to someone you already have a relationship with than to sell to a complete stranger and that is what relationship marketing is all about. Creating relationships may not affect the bottom line in the short interim but in the long run the ROI is much higher and that is what relationship marketing is all about creating and maintaining lifelong relationships that will pay off over and over.