June 12, 2007 by Dawud Miracle 38 Comments Share this:Tweet Related posts: Can Your Audience Tell You What You Do? Are You Having A Conversation With Your Niche Audience? Business Owners…Try Making It A Conversation Be Careful Who You Ask For Help With Your Business In Business, Make It About The Relationship First Reader InteractionsComments Mark Silver says June 12, 2007 at 10:35 am I love that story, Dawud- thanks for sharing it! This is my favorite topic, and why I love marketing so much. My real feeling is that there is NO REAL DIFFERENCE between marketing and actual providing your product/service. For me, marketing is the art of relationships. For me, business is the relationships that you have around your livelihood. What I notice about marketing is that it is a one-way relationship- and for it to be successful, it needs to be a generous giving to people who are interested/need your help. And sooner or later, if the person is right for your business, there comes a Sacred Moment- the sacred moment of the sale. And that’s when the relationship deepens, and becomes a two-way relationships- you give and you receive, they give and they receive. For me, it’s never a transaction, it’s a giving and receiving. It sounds the same in our language, but for me there is a very big difference in terms of how it feels to my heart. I give from what I have, and I receive what I need. That’s not a transaction, that’s something much more sacred. Thank you again for that story- it’s such a beautiful illustration of my own experience with marketing, sales, and business. Reply Mark Silver says June 12, 2007 at 12:53 pm That’s an interesting question, Dawud. And, put another way: “what’s the single, most important part of a marriage?” I would actually reject the notion that there is any one most single important part of anything. Relationships are complex, rich, organic, messy, fun, enlivening, profound journeys, and there are many pieces that fit together. That said, here’s some pieces that I know make it work: – Your own presence- you must have yourself present, authentically and vulnerably. Standing in confidence to give, and standing in humility to receive. – Focus- you need to know who you are talking to as an audience. I definie audience/target market as “who are these people (demographic + psychographic) and what problem are they facing, as they describe it in their own words, that you help them with.” Focus helps keep your marketing intimate and connected, even when it’s a mass mailing like a blog post or email newsletter. – Empathy and witnessing- ability to see your clients as they are, and accept them as they are, before you try to fix or offer solutions. – Consistency- you want to be present over time. Relationships are not built in a day- those people you meet where in one moment you feel like you’ve known them forever- that’s rare. The majority of relationships are built over time. You have to keep showing up and giving, and receiving. There’s more- there are plenty of structures and systems that go into successful, authentic, effective, marketing, but those are some of the biggies. There is no magic bullet- life is messy, so is business, so is marketing. Show up in the mess, use a system to travel through the mess, and bring your heart, and you’ll find that it starts to work. 🙂 That’s a whole article, but anything less wouldn’t really do your question justice. Thoughts? Reply Randa Clay says June 12, 2007 at 11:16 am I think this is one of the great things about blogging. It’s a great medium to enable you to build relationships with people and establish credibility so that they want to do business with you and understand the value you bring. Reply Dawud Miracle says June 12, 2007 at 11:55 am Mark, …for it to be successful, it needs to be a generous giving to people who are interested/need your help. My feels exactly. I’ve said for years that business happens between people – regardless of the size of the business or the contract. It’s about people finding benefit in each other. That’s a relationship. I think the ‘transaction’ is much more organic as well. It’s something that grows out of the relationship instead of the reason for the relationship. Small, subtle difference – but an important one. What do you feel is the single, most important point of creating that relationship? Randa, I agree totally. It’s also why social media (blogging included) is not only changing the internet, it’s actually changing the way people do business. One point, before the blog, can you imagine getting the ear of someone like Bob Lutz, the Vice Chairman of General Motors, and his executive management team? The gap between corporations and their customers was so much wider before blogging. Reply LaurenMarie says June 12, 2007 at 1:26 pm Wow, Dawud, such rich conversations happen on your blog! I loved that story you shared, too. I will have to give this marketing-conversation-relationship more thought. I’m not quite sure how I market. I don’t advertise, and that’s always how I’ve thought of marketing. I’ve only had a few clients and I do genuinely want to meet their needs in business by sharing with them what I do well. I benefit in many ways from that, I feel good about helping, I gain portfolio pieces to show off my talent, I learn new things, I gain experience, I make money to live. They benefit by getting a need met, and indeed we both benefit by starting a business relationship that hopefully lasts! Reply Jim Pearson says June 12, 2007 at 2:35 pm Dawud; I’m a new visitor to you blog site. I want to thank you for such an open, honest and direct approach to discussing business development topics. It is refreshing to see someone willing to share thier personal development as well as thier expertise. The question I am left with after reading this blog is this: If we as business owners and professionals are truely concerned with the well being and success of our clients, then shouldn’t our marketing be soley focused on how we can help our clients solve thier most pressing business problems? If we did this we most certainly would be building a stronger relationship with our clients & prospects. As well as defusing the pressure to sell which usually leads to a loss of openess in the business relationship. Your thoughts? Reply Dawud Miracle says June 12, 2007 at 4:39 pm Mark, I would say the single, most important part of a marriage is the commitment to be married itself. All other attributes of a marriage stem from that because without the commitment to share a life together, there can really be no marriage. My thought is that you can boil down the conversation to an agreement – really a commitment. All the other things you’ve listed (and not) are attributes or parameters that stem from a desire to be in the relationship. If one party doesn’t want to participate, then, like a marriage, there is no relationship. LaurenMarie, Thanks. It sounds like your business grows through the relationships you build. The only question is what are you doing to begin those relationships? Jim, Yeah, exactly. I couldn’t agree more. Leaving large corporations out of it, the most successful entreprenuers (and solopreneurs) have made their living solving the problems of others. Where the relationship exists, often, is where the problem and the solution meet. What I’m suggesting, however, is a slight shift in perspective. I see the conversation coming first. Enough conversation leads to the relationship, which MAY lead to a transaction. But if not a transaction, the relationship can lead to all kinds of other things – from partnerships to referrers to friendships. So I see the relationship as the goal. Yet I know that the relationship is built, partly, on my ability to provide solutions to problems. So the space between is gray. Reply Stuart Baker says June 13, 2007 at 6:37 am Whoa, Dawud, what a rich blog and discussion. And we just about got a whole Mark Silver class out of it! You hit Mark right where he lives (and us too). Great story, and wonderful photo at the beginning. I think the photo tells it all. Well, I totally agree with you guys. You got me thinking about repeat clients. You definitely build a relationship with them, likely one that keeps growing. You get to know each other. You get to know about each others’ lives. Trust grows. You care more deeply about each other. Then that is where Mark’s “raving fan” status takes place, and your reputation starts having a life of its own. And, thank you Mark, this takes place in the heart. I was at a seminar the other day where I heard someone say, “Well, it’s business,” meaning “It’s separate from the rest of my life that I care about in a deeper way.” Uh uh. Painful separation. Thanks, all. Stuart Baker http://www.consciouscooperation.com Reply Mark Silver says June 13, 2007 at 9:05 am The conversation is part of it, absolutely. But, even a conversation can be a problem. Sometimes, when I go into a store and a salesperson approaches me wanting to engage in a conversation… I don’t want to. I want to lurk. I want to browse, I want to get information without making myself too visible. When I have a problem I’m struggling with, I’m sometimes too vulnerable to engage in a conversation with a stranger. there are times that I think offering a conversation can be too confrontational, depending on the person. As business owners we want the conversation, but sometimes the suffering person doesn’t. We think we don’t want to be the expert- we want to open up the opportunity for dialogue, but they don’t- they want answers, they want help, they want to feel like they can lean into us and trust us. That’s why I continue to publish an email newsletter. That’s why I have a static website, that’s why I have a free download. It comes from compassion for the places I’ve been where I just wanted to look, and I needed guidance, but didn’t want to expose my vulnerability (yet). I wrote this article that applies to this kind of ‘non-conversational marketing’ just as it does to information products: Why and how to create an information product. Reply Mark Silver says June 13, 2007 at 9:53 am Hi Dawud, You make an interesting point, but I don’t agree. The question you asked: “What is the single most important point of creating that relationship?” – sure the original commitment is necessary. But, there is also a very high divorce rate, so the original commitment clearly isn’t the most important- it’s very important, it’s critical, it’s required, but even with that commitment, the relationship is often not created and maintained- sometimes people get divorced in a year or less. I would say there are lots of people who say “I do” for whom that was actually the easiest thing to do, and they are missing many much more critical elements to having a functional, loving, long-term relationship. I think we have to be careful when we try to boil something so important down to any one ‘most important thing.’ Life, and business, is a little more messy than that. Just my observation. Reply Mark Silver says June 13, 2007 at 10:25 am Okay, I’m going to stick with this, not because I like to argue, because I don’t (well, sometimes :-)), but I because I’ve seen a lot of my clients trip up on this one- trying to find the one thing. I think it’s fine to play around in conversation, but when people are listening for advice on how to do something, I don’t want anyone to fall into ‘lottery ticket syndrome’ hoping to find the one big thing that is going to work. And, as far as the commitment- you’re right, it’s absolutely necessary. But, it’s not sufficient. You can have a hangdog, bitter relationship that lasts 50 years because you’ve made a ‘commitment’ but that’s not what I want in my life. I’m not arguing about the importance of the commitment, understand me. And, I don’t think I’m missing you- but this is an important point for me: looking for the one most important thing is a ‘chasing your tail” kind of issue. One could also say that the ‘single most important thing is that the earth has an atmosphere that sustains life (for now).” I’m being a little ridiculous for a reason… I just want anyone out there that’s reading to not get caught in the ‘most important point’ syndrome. I’ll also argue the point that someone who gets divorced in a year never had a commitment- I don’t think that’s true. I think they had a commitment, but perhaps felt hopeless because they didn’t have communication tools to get through a struggle- and their hopelessness had them changing their commitment. In which case the missing communication tools were more important than the commitment because they dragged them down… 🙂 Sorry to be a stick-in-the-mud about this- I just have worked with so many, many people who start out striving to find the ‘one big thing’- and so it’s a red flag for me. 🙂 Reply Mark Silver says June 13, 2007 at 10:29 am And, as long as I’m spending my time on your blog and not working like I’m supposed to 🙂 I’ll also add that I love the richness and ebb-and-flow of relationship. One more point… boy, I’ve got my conversational switch on today. Thanks for suffering through this with me. The question about ‘knowing your audience’ doesn’t quite hit it for me either, at least how I understand it. When I read ‘knowing your audience’ that, for me, refers to knowing the general characteristics of one’s target market- knowing the commonalities in a group, such as in giving a speech or presentation to a certain group. It doesn’t take into account, for me, that some of the audience may be ready for a conversation, and some may not. I can know my audience, and some of the audience is jumping up to the microphone to ask me the hard questions. And others are sitting at the back, hiding behind notebooks. Yes, I want to know my audience, but I also want to know the individuals in the audience, and to take into account that people are in a lot of different stages. I know you know this Dawud. And I know you’ve said many times that blogging isn’t a be-all, end-all, which I agree with. I just had to make that point- the different between knowing one’s audience, and taking into account different stages an individual may be in. Okay, time to get some work done. 🙂 Reply Karin H. says June 13, 2007 at 6:55 am Hi Dawud and all Funny, last week I scribbled a few little notepad sheets full with a post I had in mind about ‘new’ marketing. I’m thinking more and more in “Conversation Marketing” than anything else. We had ‘Permission Marketing” (“invented” by Seth), but that’s not the whole correct appearing picture IMHO – it misses something essential. Bloggers like us (who like to call ourselves conversational bloggers) find that this is what makes it work: conversations, being there for the conversation. Marketing IMHO is going the same way and I for one am trying to implement (can you implement ‘new’ things – or are we ‘inventing’ new processes and ideas?) as much of this as possible already in my business (websites, blog, brochures, showroom etc all included) Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business) Reply Mark Silver says June 13, 2007 at 12:10 pm Hmmm… maybe I’m a little more linear than you are, but we’ve only had really three exchanges since that question about ‘the single most important thing’ you asked- and it’s all been about that. There have been a number of other topics that have popped up here and there, but that’s been the point I’ve been addressing, and it looks like its the point you’ve been addressing, too. So you’ve got me a little confused. I let it go now. 🙂 As far as knowing your audience- I’m glad you focus on the individual and the group. Perhaps I’m used to more of the intricacies and details in marketing, differentiating between ‘client profiles’ ‘individual actual contacts’ and ‘audience demographic/psychographics.’ I think there is a value in understanding both as separate- that one’s larger audience has general characteristics/themes/traits in common, and that the individuals within that group have uniquenesses that we all have. Building relationships, marketing, etc, is like an ever-deeper mystery. At the core there is love and the connection that our hearts naturally feel with each other. And, there are lots and lots of details that help in different contexts. For me, I like to have both- the simple and straightforward, and the details. Karin- I totally agree with you- I’ve had the same experience- one at a time, and then noticing common traits, and then focusing in on a particular audience. Reply David Airey :: Creative Design :: says June 13, 2007 at 8:36 am I’m pretty sure we’ll have similar thoughts on this subject, Dawud. You can let me know if we do or don’t. If you build and nuture strong and lasting relationships, it’s a life and business benefit. We thrive on communication with others and if we’re happy in our personal lives we’re much more likely to have a happy business life too. For me, relationships are the heartbeat of all great businesses. Reply Dawud Miracle says June 13, 2007 at 8:52 am Stuart, Yeah, I know what you mean. I just try to remember that business is about the interaction between people. And people want to be in relationship with other people. We yearn for it. Karin, Marketing is definitely changing and social media is playing an enormous part in that. Through social media (blogging as an example), now the consumer has choice. They don’t have to have their life interrupted with a bombardment of ads and emails to find what they want. Now they can choose for themselves. All the things I’ve read about the future of marketing talks about business and consumers being in relationships in much more refined niche markets with the consumer having even greater control. That means businesses will need to adjust their approaches – and quite literally their philosophies. Social marketing (in which conversational marketing is a part) has barely been birthed. Yet its effects can be felt everywhere already. We’ll see what tomorrow holds. David, Yes, yes, and yes! Without a doubt, that’s true to me. I see the relationship not only as the foundation, but as the point of business in general. Sure, my business needs to be profitable. Which is where the fine-line of how I strive to make it profitable comes in. I’ve known for a while that you and I are very similar. Someday I have to jump the pond to visit. Reply Karin H. says June 13, 2007 at 9:15 am Hi Mark Of course. You’re right and we are ‘on the same page’. That’s why I mentioned the Permission Marketing. As business we need permission to engage in conversation with the customer/prospect, absolutely. Otherwise we’re back at ‘interrupting’ the browsing, thinking, pondering customer. ‘Conversation Marketing’ goes a bit further than just having permission to email etc the permission giver 😉 Karin H. Reply Dawud Miracle says June 13, 2007 at 10:02 am Mark, It’s all about knowing our audience. Some folks need/want the space. Others, don’t. Many that are currently using social media – blogging – lay it all out. They know that people are “out there” to help them and so they’re willing to share their vulnerabilities more freely. For me, both approaches work quite well. It just depends on who you’re speaking with. Karin, Conversational marketing goes a bit further, for sure, in that we, as buiness owners, are making our selves much more readily available by publishing our thoughts and knowledge daily for everyone to read. In turn, the people drawn to us will be people who want to engage in the conversation. I can say I’ve seen a huge jump in my business since strongly embracing conversational marketing over the days I simply relied on a static website. I also chose a strategy on how to take this step. And, it works for me as a person. I love conversation and I love relationship. It’s truly why I’m alive. Mark, My friend, as we tend to do with each other, you’re missing me. I’m simply saying that it’s impossible to have a relationship without the commitment. Are there other attributes to it? Sure! Are there pieces that deepen and enchance the relationship? Absolutely. But there is no relationship without the fundamental agreement to be in one. Hence, we have divorce. And for most, the divorce is the ending of the relationship. Reply Randa Clay says June 13, 2007 at 10:08 am I agree that is difficult to boil things down to the single more important thing, however I agree with Dawud on the marriage thing. If a couple gets divorced, particularly in the first year, then there was no commitment to be married. Commitment to be married means we won’t get divorced no matter what, we’ll find a way to live together and be happy because that is the only option once we’ve said I DO. It’s not the original commitment, but the ongoing every single day, even when in those rare moments, you’re sick to death of looking at the person you married kind of commitment. In business, unlike marriage, there is no expectation of a life-long commitment but once you’ve built a wonderful relationship with a client, the hope is that they will be committed to working with you as you are committed to helping them grow their business. Reply Dawud Miracle says June 13, 2007 at 10:17 am Randa, For me, it’s the ebb-and-flow of relationships that makes being in them so beautiful and rich. All relationships have a beginning, and that beginning is the decision to be in the relationship – the commitment. Then time and a whole bunch of other factors will decide how that relationship goes. Yet, through the ups and downs, what remains is the commitment to be in the relationship. It’s the same for business as it is from marriage or friendships. For me, that’s the excitement…being a part of this ebb-and-flow. Thanks for making space for me to say that, Randa. Reply Karin H. says June 13, 2007 at 10:38 am Mark, as I’m part of the conversation I want to react on one of the many – important – things you say, based on our business experience. The question about ‘knowing your audience’ doesn’t quite hit it for me either, at least how I understand it. When I read ‘knowing your audience’ that, for me, refers to knowing the general characteristics of one’s target market- knowing the commonalities in a group, such as in giving a speech or presentation to a certain group. Our business aim – very simple – is to provide the best suited wooden floor for our customer. Best suited to their unique interior design, their unique -building-circumstances, their unique budget. In order for us to know that we have to engage in conversation (with permission, so just ‘want to browse’ and find their own answers – for which we provide sufficient info on our websites and blog). That’s how we come to know our audience, one at the time 😉 Karin H. Reply LaurenMarie says June 13, 2007 at 11:40 am Wow, I need to stop subscribing my email to your posts. I had about 20 emails this morning! 😀 You responded to me quite a while back up the chain there and the conversation has quite gone on without me, but I wanted to answer your question, how do I start my business relationships? All of my clients have come to me through word of mouth. I currently work full time for a non-profit and the non-profit community tends to be tightly knit; many CEOs and the like from “this” NP are on the Board of “that” NP, or at least know the people in their equivalent position. I also help my husband with his clients, who have come to him through recommendations as well. We both have day jobs and freelance as the work comes in. Reply Dawud Miracle says June 13, 2007 at 11:44 am Mark, Yes, there is no magic bullet – not even in Dallas. What I’m talking about has nothing to do with ‘the most important thing.’ What I’m referring to is just a foundation. But the foundation isn’t the most important thing – rather, it’s the beginning point. It seems, perhaps, that you’re back with the question I asked you above the what do you feel is the most important thing. This conversation, for me, has branched well beyond that one question. For fun…And you could say the most important thing is that your body knows how to process the atmosphere into unable elements to sustain your life. Having the atmosphere doesn’t matter unless you can utilize it. Mark, I don’t understand how knowing your audience doesn’t take into account each individual person, their needs and their readiness. For me, I can’t separate ‘target audience’ from the individual and their needs. Karin, Great example of how the conversation is adding to your business…and to the lives of your customers. How effective have your blogs been in creating that conversation? Reply Karin H. says June 13, 2007 at 11:55 am Hi Dawud Funny you should ask ;-). The truth is that my Kiss blog (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, no more double Dutch in business) on business concepts, books, advice, marketing practise etc and the conversations there has/is helping me to make our Wood You Like FAQ blog and ‘static websites more effective. The number of phone calls from potential customer all over the UK (not just the area where we install the floors = East Kent) is increasing and most say: we found you website/blog and that is most informative. I have a specific question on… etc. Our statistics (I am also a passionate bookkeeper ;-)) show that from 60% of our sales the first contact has been made through our website. So something is working 😉 Karin H. Reply Dawud Miracle says June 13, 2007 at 4:34 pm Karin, I’d say so if you’re getting almost 2/3 of your initial client contacts through your site. That’s great. Can you share any secrets to your success? Mark, Building relationships is an ever-deepening mystery. And in the mystery lies the fun, the challenge, the intrigue…and the great chance to learn. Reply Eric says June 14, 2007 at 12:18 am I agree with Sayo. However another name for relationship is called “branding” is it not? I live in Atlanta. Coca Cola is headquartered here. Just about any soft drink can generically be called a “coke” in the southern US. In fact, I have been know n to not frequent restaurants that did not have Coca Cola. I like drinking it and that kind of brand loyalty certainly signifies a relationship. I trust Coke to make a product I enjoy. I also identify it with my hometown and values dating back to my grandparents. I also know that if I go to Asia or to Latin America or Europe, the coca cola I get there, at least in bottles, is going to taste the same as what I get at home. That is comfort food to an American traveler. Reply Karin H. says June 14, 2007 at 4:26 am Morning Dawud Secrets? Persistency, fine-tuning, tweaking and as said on the ‘fake your comment post’ patience, for starters. The ‘next’ step in contact is very important: the expectations of our potential customers because of the informative websites/blog is high, when they place a phone call, send an email, come to our shop – is that expectation betrayed or met (or even exceeded?) Nowadays I can let the facts and figures speak for themselves, but that doesn’t mean we ‘sitting-back’, we ‘keep-at-it’ 😉 (And that’s the best and most satisfying part of my job) Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business) Reply Dawud Miracle says June 14, 2007 at 6:52 am Eric, Interesting point. I see branding as being about how the relationship develops – and maybe a bit bigger than that even. Whatever we call it, you can definitely say that you’re in a relationship with Coca Cola – and they with you. You both have a commitment to each other – and you trust them. That’s the stuff of relationships. Thanks for bringing this point up. I so often think about the person-to-person relationship that I pass right over the person-to-product or the person-to-corporation relationships. Karin, Sounds similar to how I operate as well. When someone contacts me, I think of it as entering into a trust. So I do what I can not to break that trust. That’s why I try to get to know each contact personally a bit. Then we can meet as people and not just another inquiry. Great insights. Thanks. Reply Adam Kayce : Monk At Work says June 14, 2007 at 10:53 am Okay, maybe I missed it somewhere (you guys write looooong comments!), but I think the crucial, foundational element to relationships has been strangely overlooked. How did the relationship get built in the original post’s story? Two people sharing their love about the product at hand. Why would you want to commit to a relationship (and eventually, perhaps, a marriage) in the first place? I’m certainly not going to walk up to someone and say, “Hey, baby… let’s commit.” It’s gotta be built on love. In business or in any part of life. No love, no relationship. Reply Dawud Miracle says June 14, 2007 at 11:33 am Adam, …walk up to someone and say, “Hey, baby… let’s commit.” I’ve tried that…it doesn’t work – most of the time. Though there have been times… Yeah, love is foundational – without a doubt. I see love as why we commit in the first place. Yet to love we first commit to getting to know someone – even if the commitment is a soft one. Thoughts? Reply Adam Kayce : Monk At Work says June 15, 2007 at 1:44 pm True… and all the chicken and eggs flying around are making this one messy discussion. 😉 Reply Dawud Miracle says June 15, 2007 at 3:08 pm Adam, Yeah, it gets that way sometimes. Reply chay says December 10, 2007 at 11:48 am Nice story, you will learn something from it. Conversation is really a good way to market your product it builds relation ship between the seller and the customer. Usually customer always comesback if they build a good raport with the seller, no matter how much is the cost of the product. Reply Dawud Miracle says December 10, 2007 at 3:26 pm chay, I’ve found that cost isn’t an issue. Trust, relationship and integrity hold much more weight. Reply Atlanta Travel City Guide says May 26, 2009 at 8:17 am What I’m suggesting, however, is a slight shift in perspective. I see the conversation coming first. Enough conversation leads to the relationship, which MAY lead to a transaction. But if not a transaction, the relationship can lead to all kinds of other things – from partnerships to referrers to friendships. Reply Amanda Fern says November 4, 2009 at 6:18 pm I see that I am very late to this discussion, but I hope it can still be considered “fashionably” late. The reason behind my marketing (social media marketing, new media, advertising, etc.) is to brand the product a certain way and reach the niche segment that can buy my product. Transaction is a big component of that and through the tools present online today, that ROI can be processed and analyzed. Reply Trackbacks The July Carnival of Trust… Dawud Miracle draws from a story in the Cluetrain Manifesto to explain how. Think about how it applies to the pharma-consumer relationship in John Mack’s post, Is Big Pharma Shifty?… Reply […] How is Marketing About Relationships […] Reply Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.