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Market Leadership Strategy #2: Relationship Leadership
Here’s the second of my “Market Leadership for 2015” videos, this time looking at the second big strategy for insulating yourself from competition and establishing yourself as the preferred partner for clients: Relationship Leadership.
Hi, it’s Ian here again.
In yesterday’s video I talked about the importance of establishing market leadership to insulate yourself from from the increased competition and price pressure we’re seeing in pretty much every market and establishing yourself as someone that clients will seek out rather than you having to chase them.
The first strategy for market leadership I discussed yesterday was thought leadership: becoming known for new ideas, new insights and high quality thinking that rapidly builds credibility with clients.
Because one of the key factors clients look for in any buying decision is credibility: can this person do the job?
Now the second big factor clients look for is trust and relationship. Can I work with this person? You can be the world’s biggest genius but if no one thinks they can work with you, you won’t get hired very often.
That’s why the second strategy that can be hugely effective for building market leadership is Relationship Leadership.
Now most of us are actually pretty good at building relationships with clients when they’re our clients and we’re working with them.
There are plenty of opportunities to interact with them, we do great work, so usually by the end of an engagement or project we’ve built really strong relationships with our key clients.
Unfortunately, that’s where it often goes wrong. Because usually what happens is we start working for another client or clients, we spend all our time and mental energy focused on these new clients, and we let our relationship with our previous clients lapse and then wither and die.
Now of course, in the future, those previous clients should be ideal prospects for us when they have another problem or goal that we could help with. In fact ideally they should be calling us without ever thinking of anyone else.
But if we’ve neglected that relationship and we haven’t kept in touch and we haven’t kept building credibility and trust after we’ve finished working with them – then they’re not going to call us, they’re not going to prefer to work with us, and they’ve not going to recommend us to others.
It’s a similar story when we first meet potential clients.
What many of us do is we invest heavily in trying to make initial contact with people we think would be great clients for us. So most of our time and money goes on initial marketing: we do presentations, direct mail, pay-per-click, social media.
But once we’ve made that initial contact if the person isn’t ready to buy immediately then typically we’ll redirect our attention to the next hot prospect then the next one.
And, of course, all the time the people we stopped communicating with are getting closer and closer to being ready to buy.
And who are they going to turn to when they’re ready. Probably not the people who haven’t spoken to them for ages, haven’t added any value and haven’t built any sort of a relationship.
So the good news, I guess, is that most people are pretty bad at relationship building with people who aren’t ready to buy yet.
So one of the easiest ways to stand out and be seen as a leader in your marketplace is to get systematic about building relationships.
Make sure that when everyone else has moved on from their ex-clients or initial prospects, you keep in touch, keep adding value, keep investing in the relationship.
Pretty soon, those potential clients will see you as part of their inner circle and you’ll be among the first they think about when they are ready to buy.
Now there’s a second element to relationship leadership I’d like to touch on too.
So the relationships I’ve talked about so far are with prospects and clients who you actually know, who you’ve come into contact with.
But something that’s become increasingly apparent to me over the last few years is that it is absolutely possible to build what feel like quite deep relationships with people you don’t really know.
So as an example of that I regularly get emails from people thanking me for the work I do, telling me how generous I am, or saying that they want to work with me and there’s no need to sell myself because they’re already convinced.
Yet these are people who I’ve never met and have never had a personal interaction with. They’ve built their relationship with me from watching my videos, coming along to webinars, listening to podcasts and reading emails.
It’s staggering really how close people can feel to you just really based on the media you put out.
I guess it’s similar to the way we often feel we have a relationship with celebrities .
So much so that when a celebrity passes away we feel a loss and there’s often a huge outpouring of grief from lots of people
who don’t actually really know that celebrity personally but feel they do because through the TV or radio they’ve been in their homes time and time again. They almost feel like part of the family.
So I think theres a lot we can learn from celebrities in terms of relationship building at a distance.
And if you think about the celebrities we tend to feel closest to, then it’s the ones we see a lot, and the ones who stand out because they have a personality, they’re different in some way that we connect to.
So I think one of the trends we’ll see in 2015 that is a really good fit for small and solo businesses is getting a lot more personality into your marketing.
Getting you into your marketing really.
There are not many things that we small businesses have as advantages over big competitors, but one of them is ourselves.
We’re not a faceless corporation, so if we can be brave enough to put ourselves on show and inject more of our personalities into our marketing and everything we do it can make a big difference.
So that means getting out on video more, using audio, telling stories, opening up about ourselves rather than hiding behind a business name and website.
If we can do that, then that can really strengthen and accelerate our relationship building and get lots of potential clients to feel closer to us without to do everything 1-1.
So that’s #2 of my market leadership strategies: Relationship Leadership.
Tomorrow I’m going to talk about market leadership through Marketing Leadership.
See you there.