Relationship based business

Building service based business requires relationships. And building those relationships trump cold marketing. Any day of the week.

There, I said it.

It’s the thing that not everyone wants to admit. And certainly not a previous marketing consultant, such as myself. I sold people on the fact that cold marketing to strangers works. And for some business it does – widgets, groceries, commodities, slurpees, roofers, and so on. But, for intimate, service based business, relationships are king. They are one of the most effective ways to build your business on a solid foundation.

I know that there will be someone that says, “hey cold marketing has worked for me and allowed me to build a multi million dollar business.” And I believe you. And you might be the exception, but in my opinion, definitely not the rule. You can read about my definition of the exception vs the rule here.

If you are a service based business, such as a realtor, a coach, a consultant, a marketing strategist, a hairdresser, a mortgage broker – your relationships will build your business. Your cold marketing will help with awareness, but it won’t build your business. Take a look at exhibit 1.

house for sale

This homeowner lives beside a bus bench where a Real Estate office is cold marketing. The home owner chose a different realtor. Even though, they were cold marketed to right outside of their home. This home owner chose a realtor they were referred to, or had a previous relationship with. In spite of the bus bench.

Now, for me, I’ve done both. I’ve built a small boutique style business through online marketing, very hard, never stable, and always hunting.
AND, I’ve built a business through relationships. Still hard, not always stable, but a lot more fun to work through. My business through relationships is still going, and it’s still a lot of work. Building relationships to build a business takes time. What I have found is that the relationship business has a stronger foundation, and over time, will build a stronger business.

As I talk to people about this, I often get the same pushback.
“I don’t have relationships, this is new to me. I don’t have a foundation of people willing to support me through this start up”
. And the hard fact is that neither do I. But I persevere and here’s what I found.

Relationships sound scary. But they are just work friends. Think of it like that. Friends who have a common ground of whatever area/discipline you work in. So when you scroll through your LI or FB feeds, look for work friends. Look for people who do what you do, or support similar people to what you support. And strike up a conversation. Doesn’t have to be mind blowing, it just has to start. And remember, they might be just as cautious as you are. Take your time, don’t rush it, and be yourself. 

Most of your day is very repetitive. Get used to that. In the beginning, you are looking for work friends. And that takes time. Whether you are reaching out to previous colleagues, or introducing yourself to people in your industry. It’s repetitive and it’s necessary. There is no other way to describe it. So put yourself on repeat, and start those introductions. And you will do this until you don’t. There is no end date on this task. 

At this point in my conversation, usually people ask
“But, how do I get motivated to do this?”
Motivation is a funny thing, just not laughable. And my answer to that question is always the same. You don’t necessarily get motivated. You just do it.

And at some point, those repetitions become second nature to you. And that’s when the motivation kicks in. Not before, not in the beginning. Not before you have even made 1 introduction. Finding motivation those first few weeks/months of reaching out to build your business is almost impossible. Sure, you can have a day or two where you really feel that this is easy, and that you are getting into a flow.
Those feelings go away, and it’s the reps that keep you in the game. Not the motivation. 

So an action item for today would be to just start. Start looking for work friends, online or at events, and put in the reps. Use hashtags on social platforms, research companies, watch how other people are doing it, whatever you can to just get going. And build your business mindfully with the connections that you make. 

There is no shortcut, there is no easy way. There is only your way. And you have to find that. One built relationship at a time. 

Donita Fowler

Coach + Creator
Manage your emotions and you can navigate challenges with a balanced perspective.