Here’s a truth every entrepreneur needs to hear: if making is sale is all you’re after, you’re not going to grow your audience or gain more customers in the grand scheme of things.
Hear me out.
If all you want is to make a sale, it will definitely show through your marketing. And people don’t like feeling “sold to.”
Instead, they want to feel like they matter. Like you actually, genuinely care about them as a human being and want to take them further down the path of success. They want a personalized brand experiences. At the same time, they desire to feel part of a brand community that’s making the world a better place.
And that’s why having a relationship focus is crucial for growing a community and scaling your business.
Why No One Likes The Current Marketing Model
No one likes feeling used or manipulated. Yet we’ve all been targeted by lifeless marketing ads at some point. Just think of a time you were scrolling through Facebook, only to find a sponsored ad that shouts:
“I’M SELLING SOMTHIN’ COME BUY IT!!”
“BUY IT NOW, OR YOU’LL MISS IT!!
How jarring does that feel?
First, maybe the algorithm is off, and the ad is for something that doesn’t even apply to you. Secondly, when you opened Facebook, I would guess your intention was not to buy something (unless you were browsing Marketplace, I guess). You probably opened the app to find out what’s happening with your friends and family and feel connected.
Either way, seeing an ad that is disrespectful of your attention puts a sour taste in my mouth.
Not to mention the times I have a conversation with someone about a product, and then all of a sudden I see ads for said product. (Feel invasive to anyone else?)
Here’s the problem with this marketing approach: companies will scream about their offering and how great they are into the void of the universe expecting everyone to just open their pocket book.
But that's just not how it works.
Now, I’m not saying all companies are bad at this. There are some real industry leaders out there, but there is a large portion of the "marketing" world that approaches it this way. Brands can become so focused on sales, profits, and ROIs that they forget to consider the real, authentic relationships with their community.
As an empathetic entrepreneur, I don't view marketing as a form of extraction. Instead, I approach it with a giving mindset. I want to add value to those who encounter Voice & Impact, at every stage of the experience- wherever they might be in the “sales funnel,” as you might put it.
For me, marketing isn’t about “how much can I get?”
Instead, I take a relational and value-giving approach to marketing. I’ve found this creates more meaningful interactions and builds an authentic community of like-hearted people.
Rather than “making a sale,” I focus on adding value at every interaction. I’m about making lifetime investments in my relationships.
And the results? Well, from a business standpoint, research shows that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that don’t focus on their customers.
Relationship Marketing With Your Audience
Relationship marketing focuses on your audience: honoring their attention and meeting their needs. Rather than focusing on making a sale, it elevates the real needs of your audience. That might mean you actually don’t pursue a sale in the interest of a potential client, because you know that’s not what they really need.
This radical form of marketing puts a priority on building and keeping strong relationships with your audience–first. However, this can only happen by learning about your audiences’. Which means... we need to listen. Then you can know how to add value to their life through your content.
You’ll discover a more holistic and rewarding way to run your business if you take this relational, value-giving approach to your content marketing,
What do real relationships look like in a digital context?
I believe relationships aren’t meant for categorization.
A relationship is a relationship, whether it happens over a football game, a dinner table, or your DMs. Relationships are human-to-human interactions, regardless of the medium. And I believe investing in real relationships is what will multiply your community and fuel your business growth.
So, let's talk about what relationship marketing can look like for your business.
How to Apply Relationship Marketing
I realize this radical form of marketing isn’t the norm in the business world, so I want to break it down into some practical insights. Here are ways you can implement relationship marketing for your business–right now.
1. Remember Sonder With Your Audience
As marketers, we can forget that every like, comment, and follow comes from a real, actual human. We don’t have hundreds, thousands, or millions of followers out of nothingness. When an account interacts with us, it comes from a real person just as real as us.
That’s why sonder is so important for relationship marketing.
Sonder is when you look at all the people around you and feel overwhelmed by the realization everyone is living a life just as intricate and complicated as your own. Each person has dreams, ambitions, struggles, memories, and passions–just like you.
Sit with that for a moment.
So often we dismiss eachother as characters on a screen and it can feel against our human nature! Everyone has these things in common and of course you want your audience to find good health, happiness and success - because you do too!
Applying sonder to your marketing strategy is the foundation for everything moving forward.
2. Empathize With Your Audience
If you don’t understand the real problems, wants, and needs of your audience, how can you offer them any real value?
Deepening your understanding starts with humility. As entrepreneurs, we can sometimes think we know what our audience wants and needs–but have we ever asked them?
Learning more about your audience might take some un-learning. It might take some target market research, offering a survey, or making some discovery phone calls. You might even make mistakes along the way, but that’s all part of the learning process.
Once you approach your audience with a humble curiosity, you’ll continue to gain insight into how you can hone your services, honor their attention, and provide them with greater value.
3. (Meaningfully) Engage With Your Audience
This goes beyond liking their comment on your post.
Maybe this looks like reaching out through their DMs to ask how their day is going, what their plans are for the upcoming holiday, or what they love most about something you noticed on their profile.
You can think about each member of your audience like someone you’d meet at a cafe. What would you ask them? How would you engage with them? How would you get to know them better.
And here's the key: do this with no agenda.
Expectations serve nobody.
By initiating conversations with genuine interest, each person in your audience will feel like they matter to you. You’ll build trust with them.
And we both know how much you care.
4. Really Listen To Your Audience
Your audience will provide greater insight than you ever thought possible.
At Voice and Impact, we believe listening is just as important as speaking. Brands often speak without taking the time to really listen. And that’s such a missed opportunity, because your audience will provide you with your greatest insights.
Your audience will tell you how to improve your products and services. They will be the champions who tell others about you. They become the gatekeepers for evolving your business, so listening to your audience is critical for achieving business growth.
So, how closely are you listening? What do they comment on your posts? What posts do they like? Which posts don’t attract any attention? How they engage or don’t engage, might surprise you - but pay attention.
As humans, feeling known and part of a community are things we inherently crave. Your business can foster that environment by taking a relational approach to your marketing.
5. Provide Trails of Value for Your Audience
When creating content for your audience, ask yourself this: “How will this add value to my audience? What will they gain from this?”
If you answer this upfront, you’ll be sure to keep your audience top-of-mind with everything you create. And whatever you release will be sure to serve your audience well.
When adding a call to action, think about the next logical step. What next action would lead to even deeper value? As you lead your audience up this value-giving staircase, your goal will be to add even greater value at every touch point.
With this approach, your audience will get excited when they interact with your brand, because they know something great is around the corner. They will anticipate your popcorn trails of value, which means they will happily open your emails and check out your newest blog. They know your content will benefit them–even if they don’t buy anything from you.
Then, when you do offer something that requires payment, it will have context. Their life has already been positively influenced by your value, so opening the wallet is a much simpler process. They know what real value you gave them for free, so what value could possibly be waiting behind a paywall?
Benefits of Relationship Marketing For Your Business
This relationship marketing strategy sounds great and all, but doesn’t it take a lot of time and effort?
Yes, it does. And so will every other marketing approach you take–but it's worth it.
How long will you spin the wheel of maybes, just hoping your content finally sticks? How much more money will you spend on ads that go unclicked?
Relationship marketing is an investment, yes, but it will make all the difference in your business growth. Here are just a few things you have to gain by taking this radical marketing approach:
- You’ll Influence People In a Positive Way - You’ll stand for something greater and show there’s a more holistic way of doing business. Everything you create will add value, which means you’ll improve lives at every touch point.
- Your Reputation & Credibility Will Grow - Today’s marketplace yearns for authentic brands, and people are more likely to purchase, and even pay a premium, from brands they consider trustworthy.
- You’ll Create A Community of Superfans - Your value-giving approach will draw so much attention and you’ll generate a pool of superfans. Superfans will advocate for your business, sing your praises, share your content, and write raving reviews–all because they feel part of something bigger and want to see your mission succeed.
- You’ll Care About The World & Make A Difference - Your business stands for something good and creates ripples of positive change. And it's something to be proud of. What better reason is there?
Let’s Make Marketing Meaningful
Here’s the deal: if this blog resonates with you, I’d love to connect! I'd love to learn all about your story.
Let's grab a virtual coffee.
No sales pitches. No bait and switch.
When I say I’m not about making sales, I mean it. Heart-centered entrepreneurs need to stick together and encourage each other along this journey of doing impactful business.