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The Importance of Relationship Marketing

Discover seven proven strategies to generate a steady flow of new clients.

Peter Montoya, Relationship Marketing

Marketing techniques for small businesses have changed dramatically over the last 30 years. But some of the most significant changes have come about in just the past five to 10 years. Most of the marketing strategies businesses previously used to fuel growth are now either dated or just plain ineffective.

When you first started your career you probably used some of the following marketing strategies:

  • Cold calling. Purchase a lead list or directly call from the phone book.
  • Forced networking. Write a list of everyone you know. Good. Now schedule an appointment to sell something and make them give you a list of their friends too.
  • Direct mail for lead generation. Purchase a lead list, create a letter with a compelling offer and mail it. This is different from direct mail for client maintenance.
  • Yellow page advertising. Get your name in the phone book. May have worked at one time, but now mainly generates prospects looking for debt relief or stock transactions.
  • Outdoor Advertising. Get your name on bus benches, billboards or in movie theatres.

If these marketing strategies are working for you, please continue them. If they are not working for you, you have my permission to stop wasting your money and give them up forever. If you are desperate for new clients, please don’t waste your time on the marketing strategies above.

If you want to really hit the mark in modern marketing, you need to update how you do business - and start building relationship with people instead of talking at them. The following up-to-date marketing strategies are a better way for a majority of small businesses to reach new people:

1. Client referrals. Your clients will refer you to friends because of expertise or specialization, solid relationship and superior service. If you aren’t receiving client referrals, frankly, your service stinks - so step it up and use your current customers to get new ones.

2. Professional referrals. You can cold call to build these relationships, or sometimes you can deliver continuing education (CE) credits, but the most effective way to build relationships is to meet people via a client or by networking in the community.

3. Drip marketing via email and direct mail. This is probably the easiest and most effective marketing strategy to maintain and improve client relationships. Consider using direct mail and direct email to “touch” clients 12, 24 or over 60 times per year. The most successful advisors with the most affluent clients strive for 60 or more “touches” each year - some even hit 100.

4. Client events. At least four times a year, you should attend social or educational events with clients and friends of clients. Twelve is better, and many of my most successful advisors go beyond 20 per year.

5. Website. You shouldn’t expect any leads here, don’t expect to generate inquiries from wealthy prospects because your name popped up in a search for “Financial Planning” or “Retirement Planning.” Rather, your website builds credibility between the time that someone hears about you and the time that you call. If you don’t have a high-quality website, you’ll lose potential referrals. Period.

6. Networking. You should belong to at least four or more groups. A group can be a religious, social, political, non-profit or educational, and you should attend meetings regularly, participate and be very, very passionate about the cause. It is quite simple: your clients are a direct reflection of your networks. If your clients have no friends and no money - you’d better change networks.

7. Social media. The importance of this new frontier cannot be stressed enough. This is a chance for you to interact with clients and prospects in a meaningful way. But don’t just talk on social media - listen. Listening can be the most valuable aspect. Who is celebrating a birth? Who has a child going off to college? Who is about to retire?

Here is where I’d normally insert a couple case studies of successful businesses who are using these channels, but for this article I don’t have to. Look no farther than the top businesses in your area. I’m willing to bet that they do all or most of the seven relationship marketing strategies listed above.

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