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My favorite kind of marketing is relationship marketing.  That may surprise some of you because of my years in the radio business and on the web.  But believe me, they actually work hand in hand.

When I am meeting with a business owner, and they have been around awhile, I want them to honestly say that their best new customers are coming from Referrals or Word Of Mouth.

That means that they are doing a good job and what they do is share-worthy.  This is an organic form of marketing, one that you as a business owner have very little direct control over.  You create the share-worthy experience for your customer but it is up to your customer to recommend you to their friends.

Every month I meet with people who have an idea for a business that are getting ready to launch.  They contact me because they want to advertise their grand opening.  But too often I cringe at what they are telling me.

See, I have the ability and option to sell advertising to anyone who has the money to pay for it.  But that’s not the way I operate.

I want the people who buy advertising from me to be successful. That means I wear a different hat than the advertising sales guy who simple looks at his job as selling ads to meet his monthly budget. Unfortunately, I know too many people in the advertising sales world whose only focus is on themselves and not really on their clients.

Let me repeat that statement again: I want the people who buy advertising from me to be successful. That is my first priority.

When I am meeting with start-ups, I am a critic. Yes, I appreciate their excitement and enthusiasm for the new venture they are preparing. But I also look for holes in their plan that could damage the first impression new customers have when they open for business.

The best way to create a successful business is to also be aware of the worst possibilities and have a plan in case those worst possibilities become a reality.

There’s a story about the very first Panera Bread store that open in Fort Wayne years ago.  The place was a hit.  Opening day they had a line of customers out the door waiting to try their goodies.

But there was a problem with all of this success. The Panera bakery was unable to keep up with the demand. They were going to be a victim of their own success and annoy a lot of potential customers.

Now I don’t know if the back up plan was preplanned or not, but they had one.  I think it was created as soon as they noticed they were falling behind and going to run out of bread.

Remember this was the very first Panera Bread in town. The closest Panera was a nearly two hour drive to Indianapolis.  So that was their back up plan.  Bread from the next closest Panera Bread was brought in to serve to these excited and hungry new Panera Bread customers in Fort Wayne by getting it from another Panera 2 hours away on Interstate 69.

The result was fantastic.  The Fort Wayne Panera Bread launch was a success in the eyes of the customers.  Word of mouth spread and the place was booming.  Customers had no idea how fortunate they were to get food that opening week instead of being told, “sorry, we’re all out.”

In these days of instant communication via social media, your customers are going to talk about you and how you made them feel.  That’s the human relationship marketing I’m talking about that you DO have control over.

By the way, Panera now has 3 locations in Fort Wayne and that original store had to expand due to their success.

If you and I ever talk about promoting your business, I’m going to ask you questions most ad salespeople won’t even think to ask.  I want to be sure you are creating positive share worthy experiences for the customers I send you.

It’s not just brand new businesses that need to be prepared, but established ones too.  I’m working with a family owned business that has been around forever and teaching them how to better serve the potential customers we are sending them so they can also create positive share worthy customer experiences.

Are you ready to try this human relationship approach to your marketing and advertising?  Let’s talk.