Small Business Marketing as a Relationship Metaphor

Recently I've noticed that so many small businesses I encounter are wasting their own marketing efforts and opportunities. I am far from a digital marketing guru. I'm more the traditional kind of marketing person. I view digital marketing as an additional tool in my marketing toolkit. One thing that hasn't changed about marketing, is the fact that it is all about relationship management - if anything our customer relationships are more personal and direct than ever before. I know I’m not saying anything new but clearly, some people need to be reminded.

Time and again I see small businesses creating the essential marketing elements and then leaving each of these elements sitting in isolation and not working together. They may create a Facebook page but it doesn't drive traffic to their website. They might not even have a website. Or they have a website and don't link it to their social media. Or they gather contact details and subscribers to newsletters that never get sent. Frankly - this is just a waste!

Look on your website as your home. This is where you live. This is where, if anyone really wants to get to know you, they can. In your home they find out all there is to know about you which gives them and you, a chance for a really solid relationship.

Your social media is your hangout. It’s the bar or the coffee shop where you catch up, get introduced to new people and make new friends. It’s where you chat and chat up.

Your email newsletter is the invitation you send to the party you are organising at your house.

If all you do is hangout in bars and coffee shops and never take anyone home, how will you take your relationship to the next level?

If you don’t send invitations to your party no one will show up. You’ve gone to all the effort of creating a great party – the foods laid out, the band is warming up, the booze is on ice and the decorations look great – but it’s just you on your Pat Malone!

So the lesson is simple - just like a real human relationship:

Step 1: Create a solid website that informs your customers and makes purchase easy. In other words, create a welcoming home.

Step 2: Utilise social media to chat up new customers and flirt with the regulars. Link the social media to your website and occasionally invite them round to your house (your website) for a coffee (things on your site you want them to see).

Step 3: Send out regular invites (newsletters), once a month or so to hold a big party and invite them home through your newsletter, which links them to pages on your website.

If you put those 3 elements to work properly you should create decent relationships with your customers. Of course this doesn’t cover the importance of brand and brand personality, customer service and how you treat people and it doesn’t cover the product that you are offering and whether or not it’s satisfying. But in terms of the basics, and assuming you’ve got the rest right, please don’t waste your marketing opportunities.

Get out and socialise, invite people to your home and create some great relationships. Website, social media, email marketing – they work best together – not in isolation.

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