Marketing is fundamental to attracting new customers. Although as one SME owner says, even the best marketing on earth generally won’t get a sale across the line.
According to Keith Harwood, founder of Inspire Speakers, marketing only captures the attention of prospective customers. Getting them to actually spend money with you, and on a regular basis, is all about relationships.
“I thought this when I first started two years ago: if I get a good newsletter, I get clients; if I get good speakers on my quote books, I’ll get clients. It’s not [like that],” explains Keith.
“It’s all relationship-based and it’s just about developing those relationships and just adding value to the clients the best way I can; at the same time, developing a good relationship so that they now trust no one like you.”
Building those relationships requires more than just a cheerful disposition, however. As Keith explains, it comes from developing a deep understanding of who your customers are and what their needs are.
“The best client [I ever picked up], it was a cold call. Once the call was made, it’s what’s happened since then [that retained them]. I got in front of them face-to-face, had a coffee with them, got a brief, worked that brief like there was no tomorrow,” Keith says, adding that he regularly touches base with his clients to keep on top of any changes in their business and opportunities for him to assist them.
“The first time [the client] or anyone else now within that organisation thinks of speakers – there’s at least 10 of them in the organisation – they just think my name.”
In addition to being top of mind among his existing clients, investing the time to develop lasting relationships with his clients also leads to a healthy stream of referrals.
As such, Keith urges all business owners to put more time into really getting to know their customers, so that the dividends pay off in the months and years to come, given that this is much easier than the alternative.
“I’m sure if there’s any salesperson listening in that’s been in real estate or any sort of sales where you’ve had to do cold calling, it is tough,” he says.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.