By Chris Huntley
Return on relationship marketing has been a large part of our success at Huntley Wealth.
I know – I know everyone wants to talk about Return on Investment…but I would argue that Return on Relationship is just as important whether it comes to your customers or colleagues. It’s an investment in people and provides immeasurable goodwill.
Let’s face it… all the work and effort you put into social media has no tangible value – yet Tweets, shares and social metrics are indicative of brand success. The community you create is absolutely priceless.
Your Tribe will promote you, they will refer you and they will support you.
So what is Return on Relationship Marketing in regard to influencers, and how can you make a bigger impact on your niche?
Influencers are people in your line of work that run highly trafficked sites or businesses. They are relied on to provide direction and advice to a community. Their social media following is usually quite substantial and when they say something people have a tendency to listen.
So what better way to extend your audience or get referrals than to get an influencer to share your work or give you a shout out?
How Influencers Have Helped Me
I’m an online marketer. For me, that means I’m looking for people to mention my content on their site and link to it… something I discuss in more detail in my article, “How to Get Your First 50 Insurance Leads Via the Web.”
If you have a website, that’s the #1 way you can get Google to take notice of your site and push you up in the search engine results.
Due to the relationships I’ve built in the insurance industry, I’ve had multiple, influential agents link to my websites, allow me to guest post on their site, and share my resources with their audiences. As a result, my site, www.insuranceblogbychris.com has generated hundreds of thousands of free visitors from google search over the past eight years.
You can also use Return on Relationship marketing for referrals!
Chris Abrams from Abrams Insurance Solutions recently shared how he made $85,000 off of a referral he got from one good relationship:
“I have a great relationship with one of the general agencies, through which I write some of my life business. We started out as personal friends and then when I got in the insurance business, we began a reciprocal relationship. I wrote some of my business through them and when they came across an orphan client, they would pass that along to me as a referral. This relationship has resulted in many referrals being passed over the years. Some are small term policies, but a few have been large cases such as a $4M permanent policy with a $85,000 premium and a $2M survivorship policy.”
Now that you see how Return of Relationship can impact your business, here are some basic tips to get started:
- Mailing Lists & Blog Comments: Before you even consider reaching out to influencers you need to be in their community and they should be aware of your existence. Chances are if you send out cold emails, the recipient (especially a busy one) is just going to just press delete.
I suggest that you do some research to target a handful of people you think would be good connections. By the way BuzzSumo provides tons of fantastic information about influencers and widely shared articles and posts – check it out!
Once you have targeted some people that can help you, visit their site and sign up for their mailing list and start commenting on their blog, Facebook page, Google Plus account, Twitter or wherever you can reach them. The key is to add value – so spammy, mindless posts and questions won’t do the trick. You need to engage (See No. 2).
- Adding Value: Once you have established a relationship with an influencer, it’s time to reach out to them asking for help.
This can come in the form of an influencer allowing you to guest post on their site, linking to a resource you’ve created, sharing your content with their audience, and more.
No matter how you decided to implement your return on relationship marketing initiative you must add value! Sales pitches are so commonplace today, that people are leery of anyone who contacts them out of the blue. How many times have you sent an email straight to the trash bin because you thought someone was looking to shake some money out of you?
To avoid this, bring something of value to the table when you reach out. There are innumerable ways to do this.
Some quick examples are:
- Create an infographic for one of their highly trafficked articles – then write an email to let the author know you have created a visual image that will add to their already wildly popular post.
- Locate broken links on an influencer’s site that could be replaced with your content. This is a win-win situation – the influencer gets a broken link filled with relevant content and you get a new backlink. If you would like to find out more information about the broken backlink strategy, QuicksSprout has a great step-by-step guide, please click here to find out more.
- Offer to write a guest post on the influencer’s blog if you feel you are filling a need. There are so many other creative ways to do this. The most important thing to remember – it’s all about filling a need for them.
Forum Comments: Find a popular forum where influencers in your niche hangout and start to participate. Forums are wonderful way to community build in general. If your posts are informational and offer value, you soon will be embraced as a part of the group.
I’ve personally joined many forums where other insurance agents and personal finance bloggers hang out, and have gotten dozens of links from people who have quoted me or referenced my site in their writings.
- Use LinkedIn: If you want to make connections there is no better place to be. The more information you have about your targets, the easier it is to pinpoint ways of being useful to them.
The first step is to search their profile to find out if you have any common connections. It’s the best way to warm up a cold contact. If you are unable to do this, reach out through InMail. Remember, people receive many, many emails and InMails, so it’s extremely important for you be authentic, unique and respectful. Avoid cookie cutter responses at all costs – unless you want them to delete your request.
But also remember because you’ve made the effort to build that relationship before you reached out to them cold, you’ll have a much better response since you are “on their radar” than average Joe marketer who sends them a pre-scripted template.
- Know Your Niche Inside and Out: Yup – it may seem simple but knowing your stuff is a MUSTand incredibly some people miss this point altogether. In order to be a part of a specific community you need to know the people, goals and pervasive beliefs to be able to integrate yourself as a valued member. Fake it til' you make it is not an option here – people WILL figure it out and your ability to connect will be limited.
Remember return on relationship marketing is not a short-term plan – it’s a permanent way to do business. It may take weeks, months and even years to foster relationships with influential people. If you take the time, these relationships will be solidly built on a foundation of added value, which creates a structure that can weather any storm.
Far too many people want instant pudding. Take some powder and mix it with a little water and voila…you have REALLY terrible pudding. There is no such thing as short cuts when it comes to creating long lasting relationships.
You are not just looking for a spike in traffic or the odd mention. You want an ongoing connection with your target group – which means you need to maintain engagement. Forget about campaigns and numbers, you want to kindle permanent dialogue.
Chris Huntley is president of Huntley Wealth Insurance in San Diego. He also owns eLifeTools, a site dedicated to online marketing for insurance agents. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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