The latest trend in online marketing is the idea that you can communicate one-on-one with your market, make an emotional connection with each person and build relationships with people you’ll probably never meet.
Through the use and abuse of interactive media, anyone with email and cookies can create what Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, authors of The One-to-One Field Book, call “faux relationships.”
And while it’s important to instill trust and create relationships with clients, you can’t make an emotional connection with everyone who crosses yourself. In an article called “Relationships: Don’t Kid Yourself,” Nick Usborne writes that all relationships are not equal. According to Usborne, your customer dictates the depth of the relationship, which must be based on what he or she needs.
In short, you can’t force people into a level of relationship that may appeal to you, but is of no interest to them. That’s why you must match the level of relationship with the actual need.
So don’t try to bond with every visitor to your Web site or prospect who inquires about your services. Just make your follow-up calls, get to know your clients, then keep getting to know them. If you nurture these connections over time, real relationships will develop.
5 Easy Ways to Make a Connection
- Find something in common. It could be in the business arena (such as a trade group you both belong to your a favorite business author) or on a personal level (like the place where you grew up or a sport you played).Anything in common will create a connection that says,”We are not that different from one another,” which is the first step toward trust.
- Uncover their interests and needs. Don’t talk too much. To find out what interests the person in front of you, ask questions, then listen to their answers. Look for the moments in a conversation when they become more engaged. That information will help you connect.
- Give before you get. Before you ask for anyone’s business card, offer them an idea, a resource, a referral, even a taste of what it’s like to work with you.
- Ask for what you need. Be prepared to share your own needs wwith those you meet, so they can offer some assistance to you.
- Accept graciously. You may be independent, but sometimes it helps to be a little less so. When someone offers you some advice, an idea or a resource, whether you need it or not, whether you asked for it or not, try to accept it. It will mean a lot to them, and will facilitate a connection between the two of you.
Other Great Ways to Connect
- On the phone: Make sure that a human being, preferably a caring, professional receptionist, answers your firm’s phone. If you cannot hire a receptionist, make your voicemail system easy for callers to navigate and assign a real person to respond when a caller presses zero.
- In the mail: Don’t overlook the power of the personal note. When you open your mailbox to find a letter that’s been hand-addressed to you, don’t you think, “This must be from someone I know?” And don’t you spend more time reading or looking at that piece of mail. It takes time, yet it makes a stronger impact than any flashy direct-mail piece ever could.
- In person: Look for ways to interact with your potential client base face-to-face. Speak at trade conferences. Offer to meet your with your prospect rather than shipping off your portfolio. Get involved in pro-bono projects that offer you a chance to connect with leaders in your community.