4 Steps to Online Relationship Marketing for Your Freelance Business

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

- Maya Angelou

Online relationship marketing, at the core, is the same as offline relationship marketing. It’s all about putting your focus on building relationships with prospects and clients rather than on selling to them.

Online marketing guru, Mari Smith — author of The New Relationship Marketing — teaches a four-part system for online relationship marketing.

Here’s Mari’s four-part system:

  1. Focus on Building a Quality Community
  2. Provide Quality Content
  3. Be Consistent
  4. Be Genuine, Passionate, and Caring

Let’s take a closer look at each part individually.

1. Focus on Building a Quality Community

The first step to building a quality community is to be where your prospects are.

If you absolutely love Facebook, but most of your prospects spend their time on LinkedIn, then LinkedIn is really where you need to be. It doesn’t matter how much energy you put into your Facebook page, you’re not going to have the kind of success you would if you were on LinkedIn.

The same holds true with Twitter, Google+, and any other social media site.

Once you’ve located your prospects, in order to build a quality community, you must be what Mari refers to as “proactively active.”

This means actively getting the word out about your online presence.

It means building your social media communities with care. Not focusing on the number of followers and Likes you have, but rather on who those people are and whether or not they’re likely prospects.

It won’t benefit you to have 10,000 followers on Twitter if your niche is gardening and the majority of those followers are golfers.

Building a quality community means that the bulk of your audience is there for the right reasons.

You won’t have total control over who Likes your Facebook page or follows you on Twitter, but there are a few simple things you can do to start things on the right path and keep them going in that direction.

Let’s say you’re in the gardening niche and want people to follow you on Twitter who are interested in gardening or who are in the gardening industry. Seek them out and follow them.

Many of them will follow you back. Some won’t.

Even if they don’t, by following them you’ll see their tweets and that gives you a chance to retweet or respond to them. Often, when you retweet or respond to someone, they will follow you.

If you’re trying to build a quality community on Facebook, start by creating highly-targeted ads.

With Facebook Ads, you have the opportunity to target your audience so precisely that you will soon have a growing community of prospects who are interested in exactly what you have to offer.

2. Provide Quality Content

In order to provide quality content, you must have a content strategy.

What kind of information is your audience hungry for? What do they need and what would they find value in?

What form will your content take? Blog posts? White papers? Special reports? Webinars? Videos?

How often will you post your content?

These are all crucial questions to answer when building your content strategy.

Creating an editorial and promotional calendar is a great way to stay on track. By combining the two, you can ensure you’re not promoting your business to the extent that you’re losing followers.

Mari suggests aiming for an 80-20 split. With 80 percent of your content providing value and the remaining 20 percent being promotional.

If you feel that’s still too much self-promotion, you might try a 90-10 split.

Once you have your content strategy in place, it’s time to share your quality content.

As freelancers, most of us know that the best way to become known as an authority is to write more.

Write articles. Write blog posts. Write guest articles and blog posts. Write special reports. Write an e-book.

And then share it all. Give it away.

Don’t just give away things that are insignificant. Give away your BEST stuff.

Get in the habit of sharing other people’s quality content — known as content curation.

Being a content curator can help you accomplish two things. It can help establish you as an authority — as long as you only curate things that are of true value to your community — and it can provide you with tons of quality content.

3. Be Consistent

Be consistent with your look, feel, and messaging online.

If you maintain the same look everywhere you appear online, no matter where your prospects and clients bump into you, they’ll recognize you.

This can be as simple as using the same picture of yourself across all your online platforms. In fact, this is something I highly recommend.

Maybe you use a logo on your website — that’s great. But consider placing a picture of yourself somewhere visible on your website as well.

And then use that same picture on all of your social media platforms.

People like to do business with people they know and trust. When your picture appears beside each of your posts, tweets, and updates, your prospects see your face over and over again. They become familiar with you. And, if you’re providing them with quality content, they will come to trust you.

Keep a consistent feel, or tone, across all your online platforms.

If your website is light-hearted and fun, carry that tone across all your social media sites.

Take Mari, for instance: She’s upbeat, cheerful, and witty, and she loves turquoise and bling. This is apparent whether you visit her website, her Facebook page, her Twitter profile, or attend one of her webinars.

Having consistency in your message is also important.

If one day you post about ways to go green at the office and the next day about how to make the perfect martini, not only will you confuse your audience, you will lose their trust.

And, trust is the ultimate key to building any relationship — online and off.

4. Be Genuine, Passionate, and Caring

No matter when, where, and how you connect with your prospects and clients, relationship marketing is all about being genuine, passionate, and caring.

Reach out and connect with your audience.

Empathize with them. Laugh with them. Give them advice. Congratulate them. And always, always find ways to thank them.

Let your passion shine through in everything you do online.

And above all, be genuine.

Don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re flamboyant, be flamboyant.

If you aren’t genuine, not only will you come across as phony, you’ll lose those valuable online relationships you’re trying to build.

Relationship marketing is essentially the same online as it is offline. It’s all about building and nurturing relationships that turn prospects into clients, and clients into clients-for-life.

This article, 4 Steps to Online Relationship Marketing for Your Freelance Business, was originally published by Wealthy Web Writer.

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Published: August 15, 2012

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