Relationship Marketing

You already understand the value of well-known business building techniques such as a professional image and good service, setting customer expectations and meeting them, and getting referrals.

Now you are looking for ways to jump to the next level. You can expand your business exponentially using the powerful principle of relationship marketing.

Marketing is not just advertising. Marketing is everything you do to promote your business, from networking to your website to sending Christmas cards to past customers. Relationship marketing includes all the ways that you use relationships to promote your business. For a concrete business, this means partnering with other professionals who can help you build your business.

Who are these professionals? This depends on your business focus. They could be custom home builders, general contractors specializing in retail up-fits, architects specializing in restaurant design, or, in the case of concrete countertops, kitchen designers.

Let's take the example of custom home builders. Your community probably has a chapter of the National Association

Marketing is the art of reaching potential customers to tell them about your product and your company. If you have to reach homeowners directly (beyond public relations), you need to spend a lot of money to reach a lot of people. You're faced with Yellow Page ads, postcard mailings, home shows and the like. These marketing venues are costly, not very targeted and not very convincing.

Some other benefits of relationship marketing:

  • Marketing through professionals is inexpensive. Usually the only costs are samples, perhaps displays, and joining local chapters of associations. You need only market to a small group of professionals, and they will in turn market your product to the groups of potential customers that they reach, multiplying your reach. And marketing to that small group of professionals costs only your time and energy.
  • Marketing through professionals is extremely targeted. They are exactly the people who are in the position to recommend your product to potential customers and bring you highly qualified leads. A lot of "tire kickers" go to home shows, but only people who are actually planning to build a house work with custom home builders.
  • Marketing through professionals is convincing. You understand the power of referrals: They are convincing because someone else whom the customer trusts is testifying to the quality of your product and company. Marketing through professionals has the same power because those professionals are a trusted adviser to the customer. Having someone else talk about how great your product is is much more convincing than you talking about how great your product is.

Think about what type of professionals are involved in the projects you do, and get out there and convince them that your product and service are worth recommending to customers. Whether they are custom home builders, general contractors, architects or designers, working with them will increase your ability to reach customers, your selling power, and the power of your marketing dollar. The result will be an exponential increase in your business with only an incremental increase in your costs.

Lane Mangum is customer service director for The Concrete Countertop Institute, which provides intensive hands-on and business training and consulting. She can be reached at (888) 386-7711 or by visiting www.ConcreteCountertopInstitute.com.

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