Every so often, a lesson comes along that is simple but deep. What follows could change the way you look at marketing, the way you build your practice, and, quite possible, the way you view life itself. Bold claims? Read on and see for yourself.
Everyone is looking for ways to keep their practice full, whether they are plumbers, doctors, mechanics, or coaches. Many valid approaches work, but some will drain your energy and while others will give you energy. Any time you can work out of your strength, do it! For me, that happens when I market relationally.
Every client I’ve worked with has either come through a direct personal relationship or referred to me through a direct personal relationship. Thinking back over the last four years of coaching, there are no exceptions. None.
Oh, well you must be extroverted! No, I’m introverted…INTJ to be specific. Yet, I have built a full practice relationally with very little expense and without relying on mail campaigns or a website. You can do this no matter what your personality profile is!
Your MBTI, DiSC profile, assessment results, or love language does not predetermine your identity. Yes, God has wired you a particular way, but your choices determine your identity. You can choose how to build your practice. You can choose what you will be known for.
When you take a relational approach to your practice, everything becomes easier. Consider the problem of retention in coaching. It’s common for clients to sign 3-6 month contracts, and then move on without renewing.
Clients who come to you relationally will stay far longer, on average, than clients who come through other forms of marketing. Many of them will stay for YEARS…not months. Relationships bring long-term value to clients.
Relational marketing requires an investment of your time and you have to look at it in the long-term. You have to be willing to invest in people with NO expectation of financial return.
That’s the wrong reason to invest in people anyway. You have to be a team player. You have to take the moral high road…always! You can never burn bridges behind you. A true relational approach will always produce excellent customer service.
What Does Relational Marketing Look Like?
What does relational marketing look like? Consider an example from a coach that I mentor. This coach came to me through a relational approach, meeting him at a conference and then continuing the connection afterwards. This coach was marketing in a traditional fashion by redoing their website multiple times, changing niches, and looking for business in traditional ways that were draining his energy and resources.
We began to look at the coach’s existing relationships to find client opportunities to explore further. The coach had a two-year connection to their massage therapist that seemed promising. So, he began to explore that connection, and the therapist quickly became a coaching client.
Now that therapist has a stack of the coach’s business cards in his office and he actively promotes coaching to his massage clients. That’s the beauty of relational marketing. It’s simple and inexpensive, but powerful and efficient.
When you reach out to people relationally, it invites people to know, like, and trust you. And once you start, it’s easy to keep that in motion. It just takes time, consistency and patience! Here’s a little secret…it gets easier as you go! Momentum builds like a stone rolling down a hill. Good relational work produces more opportunities for relational work.
When you take a relational approach to life, your clients will use their influence to bring potential clients to you. That’s where the real power of relational marketing becomes clear. Your clients will become rainmakers; they will bring the work to you without you even asking for it. They will make the phone calls and emails that you could never make. They will spend their influence for your benefit.
Relationship marketing works. It’s that simple. What’s more, it could change your entire business model and the way to attract and retain new clients. And who knows? You might even find a favorite client along the way.