Relationship Marketing and Your Inner Child

Image of Playground When you were a child you didn’t think about building websites.

You never thought about market research or product creation.

Pay-per-click campaigns on Google and Facebook Ads didn’t exist. Even if they did, you wouldn’t have cared.

If you were like me, you’d be too busy playing outdoors and asking mom and dad if you could play with your community friends just a bit longer into the night.

You spent your time learning and talking to other kids at school. Everything was exciting and you met new people everyday.

Family members told you how big you were getting and they’d squeeze your cheeks or annoy you with questions about school and who your girlfriend or boyfriend was at the time.

It was all about relationships and just being yourself. Yeah, life was all laid-out and easy.

Relationships still matter

Today, making friends (and having fun) are still part of the equation. It even applies to business and purchasing. Don’t believe me? Study your own buying habits.

Who would you buy from first:

  • A yellow page listing
  • Random Google search-generated website or
  • A site that you now frequent or was referred to you by your peers?

You’d buy from a trusted peer referral or website you often visit. You’d buy from a site that sends you a newsletter to your email inbox, gives you discounts for being a loyal subscriber and keeps you coming back for more.

The business that nurtures a relationship with you by way of routine contact or perks for “sticking around” is the one that will win. You’d prefer to give your hard-earned money to those you know and who you feel familiar or friendly with, right?

Keep that in mind when running your business or before you start one. It takes traffic to make the numbers work but it takes rapport to turn prospects into loyal customers and build a sustainable business.

Relationships = business growth

The buzzword(s) “relationship marketing” carry massive weight. Study the way people now connect online. Facebook and other social networking sites ARE the internet.

The number of social media profiles are approaching the billion user mark and the companies that know how to nurture relationships online will endure.

Does paid traffic and market research still matter? Of course. You have to know where your market is hanging out online and what they are begging for you to provide them. Paid traffic can put your brand and message in front of more people and fast.

But just remember it shouldn’t stop there.

No single paid ad can make the impression (no pun intended) that a direct “Like” or comment on Facebook can. There isn’t any magical ad copy you can crank out that will make people believe in you like answering questions, live, in your Twitter stream will.

With all the media channels available to our businesses today, you have the ability to listen in to what the market is saying about your products and brand. You have the benefit of being able to directly engage others and build trust by solving their problems or answering questions soon after they’re published online.

Relationships are the new currency.

Patience and giving first

It’s a whole new digital world. You’re older and have, hopefully, learned to be patient. Get out there and make connections and forge new friendships with your potential customers. They expect it now.

Program yourself to give before you receive and you’ll see the true power of our Thank You Economy in action.

Remember your inner child

Starting a successful business online isn’t a race.

It’s a journey. Much like the journey we’re all taking together from childhood through our adult lives. We’ve learned to be social by the natural order of things.

The online business realm isn’t all “click to order” and transaction based. Are you remembering to leverage, today, the social tendencies of your youth?

Photo: jantik

36 Responses to Relationship Marketing and Your Inner Child
  1. Robert
    May 11, 2011 | 8:19 pm

    Hey Jon,

    Wow am I really the first to the dinner table?

    What a great post. As kids we kept things simple and focussed on building relationships, something we need to start doing again! Those three marketing “buzz-words” ‘Know, Like and Trust’ have never been more relevant.

    There are so many channels for a business to communicate with its leads and customers that there is really no excuse for any business not to do this. Plus, these methods of communication are free, direct and accessible.

    I remember reading one of your blog posts about studying email marketing campaigns, it’s so important to see how other people are building and leveraging relationships through the various channels available, and also to see what they are doing wrong!

    Have you read “Thank You Economy” yet? Any good? I’ve read “Crush It!” and absolutely loved it!

    Speak soon,


    • Jon
      May 11, 2011 | 8:40 pm

      Hey Robert,

      You got it: know, like and trust. Those are money. Hey I’m glad you recalled the other article about email campaigns. Heck, shame on all of us if we’re not studying the marketing ploys we’re inundated with on a daily basis.

      I haven’t finished TYE yet but I’ll let you know what I think. Probably sometime when we chat since we’re Skype pals now hehe.

      • Robert
        May 12, 2011 | 8:27 pm

        Yeah definitely a good idea to study marketing ploys, some damn good free learning! haha

        Yeah cool, looking forward to hearing about the book.

        Once again, great post.

        Speak Saturday.

  2. Oliver Tausend
    May 12, 2011 | 2:00 am

    Hi Jon,

    thanks for sharing your insights.

    The online world used to be transaction based 10 years ago. Some people didn’t realize that these times are over. Now the online world is contribution based and relationship driven. I like how you pinpoint it: You need traffic and rapport.

    Great job on the post !

    Take care


    • Jon
      May 13, 2011 | 11:09 pm

      Contributions and relationships. It’s a two-way street and open conversation. I prefer it this way over the transaction based as I’m sure you do as well. The interwebs are growing up!

  3. Jym Tarrant
    May 12, 2011 | 5:51 am

    Too true Jon, Too true.

    It’s amazing how easy it is NOT to notice the primary candidate we have available for market research – ourselves!

    As you said, looking what makes us respond by buying is likely to hold true for others too… And it is all about relationships these days. People buy the person, the experience you give them, and finally, the ‘whatever it is’ that you’re selling!

    Thanks for sharing these insights mate!
    All the best,

    • Jon
      May 13, 2011 | 11:12 pm

      Three cheers for “us!” Yep, we can always start with our own needs, wants, desires and questions when thinking about how the relationships should develop with our potential clients. I buy a lifestyle, not a widget. I buy a company mission and the experience, not always the lower price point.

  4. Marlee
    May 12, 2011 | 9:52 am

    Hey Jon!
    I totally agree with you. Relationships ARE the new currency, but here’s where I think people miss the boat.

    You must FOSTER relationships and make DEPOSITS into them for them to have VALUE. People think that if they merely go around connecting with every Tom, Dick & Mary (not to exclude the ladies) that they will suddenly see cash flying into their bank account.

    Valuable relationships take time and energy so if you’re going to make relationship marketing work for you, you have to be willing to put in the work. It won’t happen on its own!

    • Jon
      May 13, 2011 | 11:14 pm

      Absolutely! Fostering the relationship and making deposits in the trust bank. Those are essentials and you know what? They’re kind of common sense but we do miss the boat occasionally. As is the case with most aspects of life – this is going to require you to roll up your sleeves and work hard (and smart).

      Great add, Marlee. Great add.

  5. Catarina
    May 12, 2011 | 10:40 am

    Yes relationships are high currency.

    Word of mouth really beats anything when it comes to what makes us decide where to buy. And you can create that online as well if you behave the way you suggest.

    It’s amazing how many people don’t understand that they have to build up a relationship online before asking for favours.

    Am for instance really tired of Linkedin members asking me to get them a job the minute I accept their invitation to connect. Why would I do that for a stranger, especially since I’m not in recruitment.

    • Jon
      May 13, 2011 | 11:16 pm

      Hi Catarina and welcome,

      Word of mouth helps, sure. Even if my friends recommend a company I find that I do a bit of my own due diligence, how about you?

      Ha! I can’t imagine a new acquaintance approaching me for a job opp and expecting me to vouch for them. How strange.

  6. Tosin@Home-Based Business Coach
    May 12, 2011 | 12:56 pm

    Hey Jon,
    Great post!

    It is so amazing that alot of us forget the things that have helped us greatly when we start online businesses.

    But the truth is that the people who master these foundational principles will reap the benefits of it.

    Relationship matter. Period! And the earlier we embrace this truth the better we’d be, not just in business but in life in general.

    Love this post, Jon!

    • Jon
      May 13, 2011 | 11:17 pm

      Howdy Tosin!

      You bet. It’s all about the relationship and the sooner we focus on treating people like people (not conversions) the sooner we find that everyone wins in that scenario.

  7. Extreme John
    May 12, 2011 | 1:41 pm

    I extremely agree! Building good relationships is very important in social media marketing. It’s as important as your social life. Talking and intermingling with other people helps boost your business as well as learn a lot of new things. Relationship-driven business is the key to success in the world of social media.

    • Jon
      May 13, 2011 | 11:20 pm

      I agree, John. As small business owners we have the advantage of giving people that one-on-one attention and special treatment. Picture calling up a company with a support issue. You’ve had those calls where you felt like the company could lose you as a customer and not even blink. It’s a lousy feeling. But the more involved in the experience, education and support of the product/service you get, the more memorable your dealings with that company.

      And the more likely we are to spread the good word :)

  8. Adrienne
    May 12, 2011 | 3:04 pm

    Love this post Jon and you are dead on with this topic.

    When I first started this venture I had no idea how important it was to really connect with people. Heck, I’m such a people person anyway but I thought that there would be SO many people online that I would just be a tiny speck. No one would notice me, what could I share right! WRONG!!!

    There are so many people who can relate to what I’m doing and who need the help, advice and direction that I’ve been able to give. Because I have been so honest and open with who I am and what I’m trying to accomplish, it’s opened even more doors for me as well as helped people realize that I’m not just in this to sell them a product.

    I’m so thankful I listened to what others were telling me and I gave myself the opportunity to start building relationships. It’s the most important step you can ever take.

    Thank you for sharing this. Awesome post!


    • Jon
      May 13, 2011 | 11:22 pm

      When we first start out we find the sheer number of sites out there to be intimidating. We think about how hard it’s going to be to compete. But soon after you start making friends and working your plan, you find that the competition isn’t nearly as intense as you first thought.

      People like you, givers and genuinely helpful in all areas, are the ones who stand out. Keep doing what you’re doing, Adrienne, we’ll just follow your lead ;)

  9. Stacy | Grow With Stacy
    May 12, 2011 | 3:44 pm

    Hi Jon,
    Your first line made me laugh, you’re right building websites was not something that I thought about as a child!

    You made a great case for your point, relationships are essential for building an online business. People trust ads less and less and are looking to their friends and others that they trust more and more.

    Thanks for sharing,

    • Jon
      May 13, 2011 | 11:25 pm

      hehe Yeah, I don’t know about you but I was more into sports and just being outdoors. Computers weren’t even much of a big deal until my senior year in high school.

      Traditional advertising may slip a bit but it likely won’t die off. Television isn’t going anywhere for a while and neither are print ads for some time yet. BUT…we are in the throes of the most significant shift in the content publishing and advertising industry. Soak it up!

  10. Stuart Laing
    May 12, 2011 | 5:15 pm

    Hey Jon,

    Just found your site and I completely agree that relationships form the backbone of both business and the internet.

    Ironically, it’s something that’s frequently overlooked due to technology and the ability to communicate with people around the world.

    And as the web is now “social”, we’ve also reached the stage where business owners need to alter their mindset if they want to become/remain successful.

    Too many businesses still treat their online activities as an extension of their traditional advertising. But if relationships are the basis of business growth, would they treat their friends in that manner?

    Anything less than complete honesty and integrity will be uncovered and rejected by the online community.

    Web 5.0 (or whatever number we’ve reached) is truly the age of authenticity.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

    All the best


    • Jon
      May 13, 2011 | 11:29 pm

      Hi Stuart great to have you here, thanks.

      You pose a great question concerning businesses and their treatment of friends. The game has changed and the stiff ad copy and traditional pitches are losing their punch in the digital realm. Peer referrals and word of mouth reputation are the game changers. Web 5.0? OK! :)

  11. Usman@FirstHosting
    May 13, 2011 | 1:15 am

    Hi, Jon!

    Well relations and communication is always our basic act we do, from chillness to oldness we are always in the process of making new connections and friends.

    and you connected these things well, for blogging relations types are changed but still communication and connection is needed.


    • Jon
      May 13, 2011 | 11:30 pm

      It seems we’ve come full-circle in how we do business. The initial bubble and rush of the early, faceless, non-social internet days are gone. Thank goodness because now the sustainable practices will endure. Nurture those relationships and think long-term.

  12. Devesh
    May 13, 2011 | 5:52 am

    Hi Jon,

    Nice Post and you’ve made great points about Relationship Marketing.

    Building good relationship is very important in online businesses.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Jon
      May 13, 2011 | 11:31 pm

      Thanks for the input, Devesh. Sounds like we are on the same page here.

  13. Relationship Marketing
    May 13, 2011 | 4:15 pm

    Relationship marketing should not be in taken for granted. treat you client or customers nicely as part of the marketing and eventually with the good experience on product or quality they have with your company they would keep on coming back.

    • Jon
      May 13, 2011 | 10:33 pm

      Hi there and welcome,

      That’s the idea, right? Build a true relationship as your foundation and you’ll continue to over deliver as your valued customers become repeat buyers. If nothing else, they become your friends of tomorrow.

  14. Jayne Kopp
    May 14, 2011 | 1:50 am

    Jon, I love your analogy…in fact, if you were closer I’d squeeze your cheeks and tell you what a clever little cheeky monkey you are! :-)

    You are so right though, building relationships is the way to go… online or offline, but who knew we would be building relationships all around the world, so easily as you say… developing rapports with someone, lets say in India, and trusting them as friends. who knew we would have a huge audience… world wide… with whom we can mingle with from our living room… furthermore, talk to them … for FREE…

    yes the world has changed, the way of doing business is different. Remember the times… and actually it’s still similar in the offline world, but they’re starting to learn… that competition can be friends!

    Online of course, we don’t particularly care about competition because we have no boundaries… audience wise… but offline businesses used to anyway, feel quite protective.

    Now we build relationships with everyone.

    Its great. I loved this post. So… any girlfriends?

    • Jon
      May 14, 2011 | 11:38 pm

      Jayne – haha more cheek squeezing eh? Just when I thought those days were over.

      Great point about competition being friends? It wasn’t very long ago that companies would never have dreamed of sharing an audience. Now look at how effective it can be.

      In terms of my own relationship situation, not right now. I’ve been deliberately keeping single since my last fallout in July 2010. On the upside I get more work done.

  15. Jane | SEO Blogs
    May 14, 2011 | 1:30 pm

    Hey Jon,

    I very much like your equation Relationship=business growth. Indeed the growth multiplies in the rate proportional to the number of (enthusiastic) people you connect with. And I am sure such connections are great assets to a business.


    • Jon
      May 14, 2011 | 11:43 pm add enthusiastic people that we connect with online. Good point. Stagnant accounts, dummy profiles, and inflated numbers by mass-purchase don’t do much for your bottom line. Thanks, Jane.

  16. [...] Relationship Marketing and Your Inner Child – Jonathan Alford, [...]

  17. Terje Sannarnes
    May 17, 2011 | 3:01 am

    From my own experience of doing online business I would like to say that relationships can be cruicial for any marketing strategy. Especially if you are involved in blogging it makes sense to develop good relationships with other bloggers of your niche. No doubts that relationships matter and are extremely important for successful business development.

    • Jon
      May 17, 2011 | 9:05 pm

      Crucial is right. Online we need to rely on relationships and rapport to get the good word out. Not only that, it’s interesting who you stumble upon along the way.

  18. Wim @ Sales Sells
    May 17, 2011 | 5:58 am

    I like your point of view, Jon. As I’m in sales I know the value of trust, authority and relationships. The same holds true for (internet) marketing of course, and business in general. If you are not interacting, you simply don’t exist. Especially in today’s so-called 2.0 environment, where it’s no longer about broadcasting messages but about engaging in conversations.

    Thanks for sharing,

    • Jon
      May 17, 2011 | 9:03 pm

      Hi Wim thanks for sharing. It seems like we have similar backgrounds; I was in sales for a few years. Conversation and listening is a must.

      Your article on using postcard marketing and the script you included is great. Salessells has a clean and sleek look, good job.

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