Friday, December 18, 2015

Know your business friends

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     Everyone has two types of friends--personal and casual. Personal friends are those close to you. Casual friends are the other people you know, but you don't share every secret with them.

     A third type of friend is the business friend. These are the people who buy your goods and services. They depend on you, and you depend on them.  It is a relationship for mutual benefit.

     If you treat your business friends as personal friends, some will be turned off by the attention. They will view your attentions as an invasion of their privacy.

     If you treat your business friends as casual friends, you run another risk. They can misinterpret your attention (or lack of) as your being less than serious. 

     So, what is a business friend? Two examples tell the tale.

     Example: Elaine promotes her fashionable shop for women with social media posts of new designs she offers. Twice each year, she mounts a live fashion show with models wearing the designs carried in the shop. Models mingle with guests. Shoes, handbags and accessories are prominently displayed. Before and after the show, pictures are posted on social media. In addition, Elaine has developed a mailing list and she uses it in two ways. She sends a Thank You card anytime someone spends over $100 in the shop. And she sends out gift certificates along with an invitation to special private showings. Elaine also makes herself available at all times to answer questions, discuss trends, and be the go-to adviser for clothing and accessories. All these activities contribute to building the business friend base.

     Example: Marsha started out with a small yoga studio, attracting a loyal base of business friends with her training, expertise, and relaxed attitude. Her clients lingered after their sessions, and she listed carefully to their concerns and problems. They had questions about nutrition, meditation, massage and other alternative therapies. So, a couple of years ago, Marsha decided to grow her business into more than her yoga sessions. Since then, she has attracted other professionals who offer a wide range of therapies. Together, they schedule open houses, programs, events, and information sessions built around the interests of the growing base of business friends. Everyone at the wellness center is sensitive to clients, trained to listen, spend time together and freely furnish information. With many pictures and posts on social media, the base of business friends continues to grow. Marsha still sees private yoga clients herself, but her wellness center has expanded far beyond yoga.

     When you listen, your customers will show you the way forward. With business friends, it's all about their interests, their concerns, their needs. 

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