The premise here is simple. When it comes to your micro business, small business marketing is wrong. And the reason for that is also simple: There’s one very important word missing from that sentence. “Small business marketing” is wrong because micro business is all about referrals and relationships.

“Small business relationship marketing” is right.

That’s why it feels so unnatural (and so often fails miserably) when you try to just “market” your small business. That’s why your dollars go to waste. The critical component of “relationship” is missing.

Relationship Marketing Example: The Wandering Customer

Let’s just take a simple example. Say you are a local landscaper in Fredericksburg. Every spring and every fall you have lots of customers that return. They come to you for mulching and planting. They call you for leaf removal and yard cleanup. If you’re good, you might have hundreds of these customers.

But inevitably, each Spring or Fall you’ll have a few of those customers who just don’t call, and you find out later than they went with a competitor. Why is that? Why would a happy customer who paid on time and seemed happy with their service choose another provider, out of nowhere? You do a great job, so why would they leave?

It’s because you didn’t maintain the relationship. On some level they didn’t really feel all that connected to you. Maybe they were content with your service last year, and the year before but that wasn’t enough. The relationship wasn’t strong enough.

Relationship Marketing Example: The Referral

Maybe not story doesn’t quite click to you. Let me share another example of how small business relationship marketing works that almost every small business owner will connect with. If I ask any small business owner that comes to meet with us how they get most of their business, they’ll tell me the truth. Ninety-nine times out of 100 they will say “We get most of our business by word of mouth and referrals.”

This is the God’s honest truth. This is the reality of small business in the Fredericksburg area. The vast majority of new customers come via word-of-mouth or referrals. That “Word of Mouth”, those referrals, those are based on existing relationships have already been established.

So “Small Business Marketing” really isn’t right. It’s missing a critical word. “Small business marketing” should be “small business relationship marketing.”

The Solution (or “What Can I Do?”)

Stafford woman waving hello to crew

There are lots of things you can do in your micro business to help reduce that attrition. To keep those customers coming back. To keep those referrals coming in. To maintain and strengthen those relationships. Here are just a few simple ideas:

  • A simple, helpful monthly newsletter will reduce attrition and increase referrals.
  • Ask customers for Facebook and Google Reviews. A positive review is just like a referral.
  • Send customers a small, physical thank you gift at least once a year. Reduce attrition.
  • Refer customers to another small business you trust with a coupon. Strengthen trust & reduce attrition.
  • Offer a substantial reward for any successful referral. Increase referrals. Make it EASY to give the referral and be GENEROUS with the reward. This should come out of your marketing budget.
  • Co-market with another local small business whose target customer is similar to yours.

If you want your business to be successful, you have to start developing your Relationship Marketing System.

We’d love to help. We’d love to share some ideas with you. We’d love to help you grow your business, and building and maintaining strong relationships with your customers. We want to see you be successful. And the first step is realizing that you need to be doing relationship marketing.