Most discussions about Relationship Marketing revolve around the concept of customer or client satisfaction and retention.  And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. According to a Harris Poll, it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new client/customer than to keep an existing one. Plus, eighty-six percent of clients/customers will pay more for a better experience.

And while creating clients for life is an important concept that many businesses still don’t fully embrace, this is only one of five critical components for your results-producing Relationship Marketing plan.

If you look at the definition of the word relationship, you will often see the phrase “an emotional connection.”

Any discussion about building and leveraging client relationships, should incorporate the emotions of trust, likability, satisfaction, and loyalty.

The renowned neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has demonstrated that at the heart of any decision is emotion. Through the use of Magnetic Resonance Tomography, Damasio discovered that subjects who had experienced damage to the part of the brain that houses emotions, could not make decisions. No emotion equals no decision.

No emotional connection to you as a person and your value, means no trust, likability, satisfaction, and loyalty. No emotional connection to you and your value means no leverage – no ability to maximize the full value of that relationship.

The 5 Critical Components of Relationship Marketing are as follows:

1.         Enhancing client (or customer) engagement. 2.         Generating more referrals that turn into introductions. 3.         Forming productive referral partnerships with Centers of Influence. 4.         Maximizing event marketing – especially social event marketing. 5.         Using social media to create conversations and connections.

I have dedicated the last 25 years of my business life to helping professionals and businesses of all sizes tap into these 5 Critical Components of Relationship Marketing. I have yet to encounter a business that couldn’t increase their activity level and enhance their results in these five areas. How about you?

Enhancing Client Engagement

Engaged clients stay with you longer, do more business with you, are more profitable, and provide more referrals and introductions.

To create engaged clients, you need to continually work on two aspects of your client relationships. You have to continue to bring value in the form of education, wisdom, clarity, helping with tough decisions, and providing stellar service.

Also, for clients to feel engaged with you, they have to get to know you as a person.  All things being equal, people do business with people they like. All things not being equal, people still do businesses with people they like.

The secret to helping clients feel a strong sense of engagement with you and then turning those clients into advocates, is creating business friendships.

Generating Referrals and Introductions

The next critical component of relationship marketing is your ability to generate referrals and introductions from your engaged clients.

Serving the heck out of your clients – creating engaged clients – will certainly generate some unsolicited referrals. And unsolicited referrals count!  Unsolicited referrals and introductions are a sign of being super referable in the eyes of your clients.

For most businesses, word of mouth and unsolicited referrals will lead to incremental growth. But if you want to accelerate your growth, you need to do two things — be appropriately proactive for referrals and then turn those referrals into solid introductions.

In fact, I believe that in this day and age of hard-to-reach prospects, “Referrals” are pretty much worthless unless you get introduced —connected — to the new prospect.  When speaking with your prospects, clients, and centers of influence, always favor the word “introductions” because that’s what you really want. You want to get connected.

Productive COI Relationships

Centers of influence are the folks who may never become clients, but still have the ability to introduce you to qualified prospects.

The 3 keys to creating productive relationships with these referral partners are:

•           Making sure they fully understand your value – you being referable.

•           Knowing who you serve the best and how to identify those people. •           Knowing how to make good introductions – advocating for your value and creating that solid connection.

Maximizing Social Event Marketing

Event Marketing — particularly social event marketing — is a highly efficient and effective way to meet high-level prospects. When your clients and centers of influence invite qualified guests to your events, you are able to engage with everyone in a more personal way. Then when you meet with your prospect for a business meeting, you are already at a higher level of trust and likability.

Social Media Connections & Conversations

When it comes to using social media, most professionals and businesses only get one part of the equation right. They connect with a lot of people and share useful information with those people.  What’s missing?  Conversations!

For most business models, turning social media connections into actual conversations is what will start the flow of people wanting to do business with you.

From now on, when it comes to your social media marketing strategies – don’t just think connections. Think conversations.

If I had to sum all of this up in just two words… those words would be Engagement and Leverage.

First – Always think in terms of engagement with your prospects, clients, and centers of influence. Bring relevant information and ideas to them and allow yourself to shine through. Give them a sense of who you are and how much you believe in the value that you bring.

And second – always think in terms of leverage. The lifetime value of an engaged client is not just the business you can do with them, it’s also who they can introduce you to. Creating engagement through value and personal connection allows you to earn the right to ask for the next step – be it for direct introductions, having people attend your events, and inviting prospects to do business with you.

Bill Cates, author of Get More Referrals Now, Beyond Referrals, and Radical Relevance, and a highly sought-after international speaker. To learn more, go to www.ReferralCoach.com. Bill can be reached directly at:  BillCates@ReferralCoach.com.