Guest post by Molly Beck, author of Reach Out: The Simple Strategy You Need To Expand Your Network And Increase Your Influence.
If you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, or manage client relationships for a larger company, you know the importance of building relationships with potential and current clients to increase sales. If you’re good at your job, you have figured out a universal truth: people do business with who they like. If you have taken the time to build a relationship with someone, they are more likely to keep returning to you for repeat business.
You already make sure that the line from you to your customer is strong.
But there’s a problem: it’s just a line.
Lines do their job: they get you from one place to another. The same two places, over and over again.
Wheels, on the other hand, can get you anywhere.
That’s why if you want to take your business to the next level, you need to morph the direct line between you and your customers into a wheel hub, with you and your company at the center and your clients connected all around. This is how to build real relationships with clients in the digital age.
You already know each of your customers. But to achieve greater success, attract new sales, and encourage repeat ones, your customers also need to know each other.
We work with who we like – but we also want to be with who we like. Creating a community of customers who know each other means that those customers are going to want to remain in that community. For example, if you own a pet food company called Emily’s Dog Biscuits, you can create a Facebook group for your customers where they can share opinions on the latest flavors. Then, your customers will want to keep buying from you to stay relevant within the community.
As a business owner, here are some more easy ways you can start connecting customers to each other:
Talk, Ask, Introduce via Email. Make it a point to ask your customers what they are working on or need help with. If there is another customer of yours that you know who could help them achieve that goal, offer to introduce them. After getting their permission to connect them, introduce them on the same email with a complimentary description of each, spelling out why you think they should know each other. Once they are connected, give them permission to move you to BCC.
Create Online Customer Communities. Create a Facebook group or email list serv just for your customers to connect with each other. Seed the group with questions so customers get to know one another and encourage interaction.
Run Real Life Events. Real life events would include meetups, conferences, or client parties. For Emily’s Dog Biscuits, that’s Yappy Hours and outdoor hikes. As a business owner, you’ll invite clients and potential clients, and let everyone bring a plus one. Keep the event small enough so that you can talk to everyone in the room and, more importantly, they can talk to each other.
List Your Clients On Your Website (with permission). Encourage clients to look at the list and see if there are any other customers of yours they would like to be connected with to share insights, advice, or just meet more people with similar interests in their area. You can put them in touch yourself, or you could also put the client list (with contact information) behind a log-in so only your confirmed clients can see it.
Creating a community of customers that know each other benefits your business by positioning the company as a lynchpin in your industry – and making it a badge of honor to be part of your customer community. Letting your customers talk to each other also lets your customers organically share how they are using your products, so they do the upselling and reselling for you.
Molly Beck is the founder of podcast creation site Messy Bun; creator of the lifestyle blog Smart, Pretty & Awkward; the author of Reach Out; and a marketing expert who provides digital strategies for companies including Forbes, Venmo, Rice University, and Hearst.