How do you get clients to know, like and trust you, and even send referrals your way? You build a relationship with them. When you gain loyalty through meaningful relationships, you reap the benefits of long term business – and more importantly – referrals which can keep your business thriving for years to come.
By devising a relationship marketing system for your business, you are showing your clients that you appreciate them. You achieve that by capturing their attention, articulating your message, continuing to build the relationships out, and providing exceptional customer service.
Rich: Jessika Phillips was selected as a Top 33 Rising Social Media Stars to Watch in 2017. Jessika is on a mission to make relationships the forefront of business marketing. She’s known for this outspoken dedication to relationship marketing. She lives by her statement that relationships will always be more powerful than marketing, and she believes in being a magnet versus a bullhorn to truly connect with your tribe.
As a social media strategist, Jessika founded NOW Marketing Group in 2010 with only a laptop and a vision. The company is now a Forbes recognized agency partner and a certified inbound partner with HubSpot. NOW Marketing Group works with more than 100 clients across the United States and beyond, choosing to serve not sell.
As a relationship marketing evangelist, Jessika also founded Magnet Marketers and The Relationship Marketing System membership sites that provide curriculum to help businesses grow. Jessika also teaches comprehensive relationship marketing, presents a weekly videocast, Magnet Marketers, and hosts one of the largest social media midwest conferences, Social Media Week Lima. Jessika, welcome to the show.
Jessika: Hey Rich, thanks for having me.
Rich: So tell me a little bit, you are running your own agency, how did you get started in running your own agency? I know you had just a laptop and a vision, but there’s got to be more to it than that.
Jessika: Yeah, so I started out actually in telecommunications where I worked my way up from a sales rep and customer service rep to helping mom and pop shops sell and service our products and try to convince them to sell our cell phones over a competitor that was in the store, and I worked with them on their marketing and everything else.
One thing about the mom and pop shops were that they did not have a big budget like a Verizon or a Sprint or a national dealer, so they really had to heavily rely on relationships and how they treated their customers in order to get that word of mouth business and really focus on what they did uniquely well. So I really fell in love with that and working with them.
So when social media started taking off this was the best bonus that they could have, because now they could use their brains over budget and really get their message out there and really double down on that word of mouth business to world of mouth. So I fell in love with social media when it first started hitting off the ground, and I actually worked for a company called 430 Marketing that was based out of Chicago and was helping businesses get started on social media and setting up a blog and all of that.
But I noticed that businesses would set this up and pay to have it done – their blog created and their social media platforms looking really good – but then we would pass it off to them and business got in the way and they weren’t prepared to really take it on and run with it because they were doing their day to day job of wearing 10 million hats and social was just not their priority then. So I really felt there was a need to have a company work as an extension longterm with these brands to help them manage their social media and stay up to date and stay consistent and really field those questions and keep building that word of mouth business.
At the time that wasn’t something that the founder was really interested in in doing long term, and I really wanted to build it in my community, so he gave me the blessing to kind of go from there and start my own agency. I loved it because I was really done and ready to get out of corporate america and start working with these people one on one.
Rich: And now he’s like, “Why didn’t I keep that idea for myself?”
Jessika: He’s actually really successful and connecting with people. He actually started doing leadership training for men and he’s a super successful, amazing guy. I highly recommend connecting with him, too.
Rich: Excellent. Now you and I have talked a little bit, we both have our own methodologies. You have your CARE methodology, I have my BARE Essentials of digital marketing. This is kind of how you help people understand what they need to be doing. Can you walk us through this CARE methodology?
Jessika: Absolutely. So just a little disclosure, the CARE methodology is kind of a shortened version of our full relationship marketing system, but it’s an easy way to kind of get the concept of what it really means to truly care for your customers, because that’s what social media is all about. Even though we think of it as marketing and we think of online marketing as traditionally being thought of as being a bullhorn as one-way speak. I really want people to think different about marketing and think of this being a magnet and really drawing the right people into you. So that’s kind of like laying the foundation of where CARE is coming from.
But to care for your customers, I try to break this down into each little letter having a symbol behind it. The “C” is using online marketing to really “capture” the attention of your ideal customer. You’re really using online marketing, social media, digital, your website, to capture attention for conversations. You have to think about it as starting these conversations to really get your message out there. And conversations with the right people, I should say, because you don’t want to start having conversations with people you can’t help.
Which leads us to the “A”, that you have to “articulate” your message and answer questions. You have to articulate what you can do better than anyone else and really be open to answering questions that come to the door on how you can solve your ideal audience’s pain points and problems. When you’re articulating your message, this also makes it super easy for someone else to refer you on to the person or persons that they know that need your service.
When we talk with clients and work with them, 99% of the time when we ask them where they’re getting their best leads, they’re telling us it’s word of mouth referrals. It is people that have already done business with them and referred a friend or someone else to them or someone saw something that was posted online and saw they were recommended. So in order to grow and double down on those word of mouth referrals, you have to make it super easy for people to understand what you do, how you do it, and how you’re there to help. So that’s where the “A” comes in and articulating your message and answering those questions that will help meet people where they’re at when they’re searching online.
And then the “R”, which is my favorite part of the CARE, is all about “relationships”. So think of this for a long term repeat or referral business, not that quick sale of getting people in. Social media should make this seem like a VIP experience for your customers that you already have in your database right now, or the customers that you’re currently serving. You want to make sure that you’re really nurturing the relationship with the people you have that are providing business to you right now that you’re using as a support system to not only build deeper relationships with them, but others will then be able to see you’re helping and serving them and featuring them maybe in what you’re doing. And they will want to be a part of what you’re doing with your tribe because they see how good you’re treating your current audience.
I like to say relationships will always be more powerful than marketing, because people will refer who they think will do the best job. It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is, they want to know that you can handle their business and they’re going to be treated good not just at the first sale until they make the transaction, but long term. Because your clients that are with you longer will end up spending more money and referring more business your way.
And then the “E” is “exceptional” customer service. So it’s how can you make a memorable experience for these people that you’re building a relationship with. So how can you make it something where they know that their valued long term? How can you keep your content going, how can you keep featuring them? How can you send these one-off experiences that are going to really highlight them and how you appreciate them, whether that’s a gift, a card, noticing that they’re having additional struggling points?
I’ll use ourselves as an example. One thing that we weren’t doing at first was managing Google ads and paid ads for clients. But we noticed that that came up a lot and the people that they were working with at the time that they were referred to weren’t necessarily doing the best job that the client felt that they could do for them. So it’s something that we said we’re hearing this back from the clients that they’re needing this service, we’re going to get the training necessary to make sure that it happens. So we started training on it and provided that service.
It could even be something that you’re currently doing for your clients that they maybe need a level deeper that you’re either willing to invest in, build that solution, do that thing, or have a good partnership with someone that you trust to refer it off to. But just making sure that they’re completely taken care of at all times for what you’re trying to solve their pain points for.
Rich: Alright, that sounds good. So just to kind of make sure that I’ve got this right, the CARE methodology includes; Capture attention, Articulate our message, Relationships and continue to build them out, and the provide Exceptional customer service. That’s the short version, correct?
Jessika: That’s the short version, yes.
Rich: Alright, so let’s just break that down a little further. So we start with “capture attention”. Is your focus more on B2B, B2C, or is it a little bit of both?
Jessika: Mainly our clients particularly are B2B.
Rich: Ok. So whether you want to use an example or just an overall statement, what kind of thing should people – B2B companies – be doing in social to capture attention? Are we talking about capturing attention of people who don’t know us, or kind of building on people who might have heard of us, or a little of both?
Jessika: A little of both because not just the people that you can serve and the people you want to serve, but also people that are advocates for your brand. So by capturing attention you first need to know who you’re trying to capture the attention of. So we start by identifying your ideal buyer persona and breaking it down to who you can serve best, what’s their pain point, what’s their goals, what does a day in their life look like, what is their objections they’re having, and where are they even hanging out online.
So once you create your ideal buyer persona, you start to paint a picture of what that person is like and the nuances in their day, then you can start creating content. Not only content that’s your blog content – which is answering questions and solving the problem that they’re searching for or helping them reach a goal – but also finding other content that could serve your client as well.
And we put together this 10-4-1 rule where out of every 15 posts, 10 could be from curated sources. So it’s other content that is also serving your personas in greater detail. So it could be – for example – for us if we’re sharing out your podcast Rich, on your BARE Essentials to Marketing. Even though you’re doing web design and all that as well, it’s still good content that our audience could benefit from.
And this is something that scares a lot of people, they don’t really want to be sharing content from their competitors. You don’t have to start there but I think you need to at least provide a good source of content to your audience and deliver it up and get them to go to you as the source of information. It’s much better delivered from you as the source than them going out to another person’s site and getting it. So that’s the 10.
The 4 is blog content or video content, and not just fluff content. I mean really, truly answering questions, showing videos on how to’s, but thinking about what they’re searching for and what they’re asking your customer service team or your sales team about, what objections are they saying before they purchase or maybe even after they’ve purchased things they’re struggling with. Create that content that’s going to keep them coming back for more, that craveable content.
And then the 1 out of the 10-4-1- is a call to action. So it could be, “Hey, we just created this guide to setting up Facebook ads, here’s your cheat sheet on how to get that”. And then they’re putting their name and email address in exchange for that piece of content.
So some of the things that B2B can do is sharing the content on their social media platforms that is serving their audience at all times that they’re going to say they’re getting something of value out of that content. And then featuring some of the other people that they’re serving and helping and putting it out there to build these relationships and engaging with them online, sharing their content, and then also maybe even doing a write up or a collaboration in a blog with some of these people as well to feature them online and get them to share the content even further.
Rich: Alright, that makes a lot of sense. Now we want to articulate our message. And I think what you’re getting at is just being very clear with who we are and who we serve and how we can help people so we’re not spending too much time with people who can’t afford us or are looking for something different. Am I right in that or is there more to it?
Jessika: That is perfect. You’re really understanding what sets you apart and what makes you do your thing really well, and what you don’t do. So just being really clear on that and laying it all out there and making sure that you’re answering all the questions up front so you’re not going through this long, drawn out process with someone that maybe is not a good fit for you at the end of the day anyway.
Rich: I think that makes a lot of sense. And we’re kind of going through the same thing now at flyte – my day job – where we’re talking about what do we do well and what are we not doing so good. And for the longest time I was very slow to learn this. Somebody would ask, “Do you do this?”, and I’d say, “Absolutely we do this”, and then I’d just try to figure out how to do it. And I realized that that’s just not the path to success, it’s just good business planning that you do what you’re good at and find partners who can take the stuff that you’re not so good at.
We don’t do PR, we’re not good at it, we don’t understand it. So finding local PR companies that can help out our clients makes us look good. And I think that just kind of helps articulate your message a little bit.
Jessika: Absolutely. So like when we’re saying we are relationship marketing focused, we let clients know right out of the gate that we are in the long term game of making sure you’re keeping on your clients and they’re growing your word of mouth referrals. But we’re not going to blast things out to try to get you $10,000 of sales your first day. We’re in it for the long wins.
Rich: Absolutely. So let’s talk about relationships. It sounds great, right? We want “relationships” with our clients. I tell people this the same time they get on the phone with me, I’m looking for a long term relationship. But it’s so easy to just give that lip service. How exactly can we be truthful or be honest when we say we’re into relationships? What does that look like on a day to day basis, maybe from you or one of your clients?
Jessika: Sure, so I’ll give you a couple of examples. Magnet Marketers, what we’re working on for the social media training class, I could have easily tried to put together all the training courses on Facebook ads, and YouTube, and blogging, and workflows and all that. We knew that there were people that were specialized in that thing and do just that thing. So I brought in 30 digital marketers that are known for their one thing that they do really well, and we work together in a collaboration to then serve the audience the best. So it’s collaborating with others, which could be a piece of it.
So for example, another client is a real estate client and they are focused on buying and selling homes. We worked with some home stagers in the area and got their best tips on home staging in order to sell a home. We put a collaborative blog together and put that out to not only serve their audience, but then thee home stagers are sharing it. So they’re building relationships with people of like-mindedness, if you will.
Sharing some of your successes with your clients is building them up and truly answering their questions, answering the phone, not using the word, “it’s policy” when you’re talking to them. But recognize them, invite them in to participate potentially in your content, creating exceptions sometimes when things could maybe be your fault and take ownership of that and truly solving their problem.
Another example of this would be featuring your team member and their anniversaries, or your client anniversaries, or sending a card out for their birthday or anniversary, or just doing something special for someone. I mean it sounds like a cheesy sort of building of relationships, but little, small acts end up growing on beyond.
So I’ll give you another example. One of the speakers that was going to be at Social Media Week Lima couldn’t make it as her husband was very ill, but she had seen that we made a bunch of bobbleheads for our speakers. We hadn’t ordered her one because she wasn’t in the speaker lineup, however, I just got to thinking that wasn’t very fair to her so I wanted to surprise her so I ordered her a bobblehead. She went online, shared this video, and actually we got a lead from one of the people that had seen the bobblehead that just happened to then look at our company and then messaged us to do a job for them.
So even though you don’t lead with the intent to sell something else, you’re just leading with the heart of keeping and building good relationships with people, it always ends up tenfold in your favor back.
Rich: Awesome, very cool. And then the last one is exceptional customer service. Is there anything specific to digital marketing or social media in this, or is this more about once you have clients, just making sure that you’re doing the right things?
Jessika: Actually it starts before you even get the client. It’s simple things like making sure your information is accurate, making sure your website is easy to use and that it’s kept current, it’s that your phone number is there on the local directory listings, it’s making sure that you have clear cut pathways for people to buy from you and it’s super easy to do business with you.
I always use Disney as an example. They start the whole experience before you even get into the theme park. You’re greeted with this big sign and everything is a full-on experience. While you’re working with clients it should start before they even talk to you and continue on for the life of the process with you in the relationship with you. Because 60% of the sales cycle is over before someone even talks to a sales rep or a person at your company. They’re doing a lot of gathering at that time so you want to make sure that your information is accurate, that it looks good, that they’re going to have an easy experience doing business with you the whole time.
Rich: Alright. And that is it, that’s the CARE methodology. This has been great, Jessika. You mentioned a few very cool things while we were talking about some things that you’re doing. Where can we find you online and tell us a little more about some of the stuff that you’re doing right now?
Jessika: Sure. So you can find me online at nowmarketinggroup.com, or my name Jessika Phillips, it has links to all the social media and all that there. But some of the things we’re doing online are Magnet Marketers, I’m really wanting to collaborate with more digital marketers that could add value to people wanting to learn more about digital marketing. So that is at magnetmarketers.com. And then the other thing is relationshipmarketingsystem.com. That’s taking the CARE methodology and really breaking down the where’s and the specifics on how you do each and every step to get to built for your brand.
Rich: Awesome, very cool. Well Jessika I want to thank you very much for your time, I appreciate you coming on, I know you’re busy out there in Lima. But I do want to thank you for meeting with us today Jessika, and I appreciate it.
Jessika: Thank you so much for having me, it’s been a blast.
Jessika Phillips helps her clients focus on building the relationships that will grow their businesses for the long term. Learn more about her strategies, how she utilizes her CARE methodology, and learn how she’s collaborating with other digital marketers.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine. He knows a thing or two about helping businesses grow by reaching their ideal customers, and to prove that, he puts on a yearly conference to inspire small businesses to achieve big success. You can also head on over to Twitter to check him out, and he just added “author” to his resume with his brand new book!