Relationship Marketing Can Help Your Business During Bad
By Karen Saunders
bad economy put a dent in your sales? Sara, a colleague of mine,
thought so as she watched her sales decline during the last six
months. Like most of us, Sara has heard the news reports suggesting
that we are in a recession. She wondered if the reason her sales are
down is the bad economy. I asked if she had recently cut back on her
advertising and marketing.
am pulling in the purse strings and limiting my expenses,” Sara
if she was meeting new people and developing relationships. “No,”
could be part of the problem. History has shown us that businesses
often reduce—or completely stop—the dollars spent on marketing and
advertising during economic slowdowns. The economy may have
something to do with fewer people spending money, but there is
nothing we can do about the plight of the economy. What we can do is
practice relationship marketing with people in our sphere of
influence to increase our own business sales.
Girard was listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as
the “World’s Greatest Retail Salesman” for twelve consecutive years.
Joe was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Joe was abused by
his father as a child, lost jobs as an adult, and then went
bankrupt. He finally landed a job at a Chevrolet dealership. Joe did
very well, personally selling more cars than most dealerships!
In fact, people stood in line to buy a car from Joe. What was his
practiced relationship marketing. Here’s how he did it. He sent 13
handwritten cards to each of his clients and prospects every year:
one card a month and one on Christmas. These cards were cards of
appreciation, tips, and giveaways—never about special sales,
discounts, or promotions. During his 15 years, Joe sent 13,000
handwritten cards! Every one of his recipients began to anticipate a
card from Joe every month and he was the first person on their mind
when they were ready to buy a car.
we learn from this story and how can we expand upon it? Here are a
few strategic objectives we can put in place now, so our businesses
can better withstand the impact of economic downswings.
Develop strong relationships: People do business with people
they know, like and trust. It’s our job to make this connection
happen. To do that, we must go beyond the superficial and become
genuinely interested in our customers and prospects. For instance,
we can meet clients at a coffee shop and get to know them
personally, without the usual business discussions. I often do that.
I make mental notes on what is going on in their lives, so I can
refer to it the next time we connect. Then I nurture my
relationships by consistently staying in touch.
Consistency is the key: We can stay connected with our contacts
by sending heartfelt cards like Joe did, or by phone calls, emails
or newsletters. We lose 10% of our influence every month we do not
have contact with our clients. And just a 5% increase in customer
loyalty could add 20-80% to your bottom line. A disappointing
statistic shows that 91% of all real estate agents are forgotten by
clients within one or two years after they close or represent a
buyer on a home because they did not stay in touch with them.
a strategic objective to stay in touch: Here are a few ideas.
Try one on for size. Set up campaign postcards to go out once a
month. Find or develop a system for remembering birthdays. For those
in real estate, record closing dates and send anniversary cards.
Veterinarians can record the birthdays of client’s pets and send
I personally use an on-line
service that has a phenomenal system for managing my contacts, as
well as printing and mailing postcards and greeting cards. I
customize and personalize the cards with my own handwriting font,
signature and photos. I have found that a simple and sincere card
can make a huge impression on someone, especially if they are having
a bad day. Sometimes I include a gift card or small gift of teas or
sweets with a thank you card.
Understand and use the Law of Attraction: When we express
appreciation, recognition or encouragement, we are focused on giving
and abundance, not scarcity. Every human being wants to feel
acknowledged, loved and appreciated. When we send love and thanks
out into the world, we get it back tenfold. What we focus on
expands, so if we are focused on our lack of money, we will continue
to have a lack of money. This is the Law of Attraction. We can
inspire ourselves by feeling and visualizing what we now want in our
lives. It helps to begin the day by meditating, listening to
beautiful music, taking a walk, or calling someone with whom we have
had good business results. The popular book and independent
grassroots movie, The Secret, shows how to apply this law to
achieve anything we want in our personal and business lives.
Bateman, a mentor and colleague of mine said, “Appreciation wins
over self promotion every time.” That sums it up beautifully.
the Rule of 250 to build a referral network: As small business
owners and entrepreneurs, we each know at least 250 people. Some of
us know many more than that. Each one of those 250 knows another
250, and so on. See where this is going? When we make a commitment
to stay in touch with people we know—and remember they each have
hundreds of contacts—we have the potential to reach thousands.
Additionally, we can build our networks by joining local and online
business networking groups. Referred customers are usually already
sold on us through the testimonial of the person who referred us.
Did you know that in occupations such as real estate, as much as 90%
of the business comes from relationships or referrals?
build strong networks and nurture meaningful relationships with the
people we serve, we will garner unlimited referrals and be less
affected by economic down cycles. Start making relationship
marketing part of your business today and watch your business grow.
Read other articles and learn more
about Karen Saunders.
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