Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll receives help from his support team

Create a good team around you – The levels of relationships that work in relationship marketing

This is from my series of the 7 lessons that rugby can teach relationship marketing and is a sub section of create a good team around you.

We all have a limited amount of time and we need to make good choices about how to spend our time to meet our goals. Starting building and maintaining relationships takes time and thus it is important that we understand what we cannot plough unlimited time into every relationship.

This relates in rugby to playing in the right teams and seeking the right support people such as the right coach, physio, kit person, masseur, conditioning coach, manager etc.

Who are your support people in your relationship marketing strategy? How much time should you spend with them? This takes us back to the questions what levels of relationships work in relationship marketing. By know what works and how effective each level is we can determine how often we want to work with them.

I have defined 4 types of relationship that work.

  1. Referral partners. These are people who have agreed to proactively look for referrals for you and who you have agreed to find referrals for. You will know what each other’s good referral is and you will know how to introduce it to a contact who is in the market for each other’s goods or services. Agreement and understand is vital to make these true referral partners.
  2. Introducers. These are well connected people who regularly introduce you to people who can help you towards your goals. This is not a direct reciprocal process (like a referral partner). You will almost always be an advocate for them and/or their business. Introducers will proactively introduce your business often because it compliments their own business. Create great relationships with introducers and look to see what you can do that helps them towards their goals.
  3. Advocates These are people who introduce your business when they come across an opportunity that fits you, this is often reactive. They will express high praise for you and your business meaning you have a much better chance of securing the business opportunity. Advocates will often not be in a position where you can refer to them e.g family members. Create different pools of advocates who will talk positively about your business. Reward them for referrals with feedback, small thank you gifts and cards.
  4. Referral contacts This is your funnel for people who you would like to become, introducers, advocates or referral partners. They will refer your business outside of any agreement or understanding. You also will look out for referrals to their business provided you trust them. Attend multiple networking events and have at least 3 diverse networks that you attend regularly so that you can meet new contacts and keep your funnel full.

Your referral marketing team should contain members from all 4 sections, you should be able to identify them in order that you can maintain the appropriate level of relationship with them.  These people will have all sorts of different relationship with you such as family, friends, clients, suppliers, group members, social, sport, school, online etc. As the pool to choose from is so vast it is important that we choose wisely on where we invest our time.

In the next blog I will talk about how many people we need in each type and how much time we should be investing in them.

Finally please do not confuse time invested in relationship marketing as the same as a replacement for your other relationship time. It is important for instance that we invest time in family that does not include how they can find you a referral. Relationships are always about balance regardless of what type of relationship they are. Lots of your relationships will have cross over areas, this series of blogs is about how we develop marketing into our relationships right across the board. People with whom we have a close relationship will often do anything for us, so why not ask them if they could refer some business to us.

I wish you the very best in creating and maintaining the right team around you.