Four Keys to Relationship Marketing Success

by Al Smith

guest blog post by Mari Smith                                                                                                         


 Four Keys to Relationship Marketing Success

What sets some businesses apart when it comes to successfully marketing through online social networks? Anyone can take classes, attend online workshops, and read books to learn the skills needed to market online. For the most part, what you learn from the vast majority of sources is hard skills. You could also just dive in and learn via the “immersion process,” much like learning a new language.

But, the secret ingredient that truly makes some businesses and brands stand head and shoulders above the rest is soft skills. Soft skills are your people skills; everything you innately possess that allows you to communicate with—and enhance relationships with—others.  Empathy, being a great listener, giving without an agenda, expressing genuine care for others, and having an inclusive attitude are a few of the skills discussed in my new book, The New Relationship Marketing: How To Build A Large, Loyal, Profitable Network Using the Social Web.

To me, business is all P2P: People to People. It’s about connecting deeply and nurturing relationships with our communities, both online and offline. I was honored when Al Smith approached me to write a guest blog post on a topic relevant to CARE, as all the topics pertain to soft skills. I love the acronym Al chose for his CARE Movement and decided to take the liberty of coming up with my own acronym for the purposes of this post.


Compassion goes hand-in-hand with empathy. It’s the ability to put yourself into another person’s shoes and feel what they might be feeling. With online social networking, it’s the ability to “read between the lines” and hear what’s not being said. Today’s digital communication can be so fragmented, fleeting and hasty. It’s easy to misunderstand someone’s intent. When you’re able to develop a thick skin and never take anything personally, yet still be sensitive to all fellow humans, this comes across in your communication.

If ever you’re in a situation where you need to deal with negative feedback or criticism online, do your best to manage your emotions. Breath deeply.  Draft a response but don’t post it immediately. Consider having a trusted friend or colleague read your response first. And, my favorite approach is to simply ask yourself this question before you ever post anything online: What is my deepest intent? This helps to keep your ego in check, and focus on communicating with compassion.


Ideally, you’ve established yourself in a certain industry as having expertise within a certain niche. This should be evident from your various social profiles. Or, perhaps you’re on a mission to build your influence and reach, which is great. Either way, when you have an attitude of being very approachable and accessible, you’ll dramatically improve your likeability and “word of mouth” factor. That is, people in your networks can’t help but rave about you and tell their friends about you and your products/services. I heard a saying several years ago that applies so well to online social networks: when the marketers move in, the members move out. The secret, therefore, is to approach your social media marketing more like a member than a marketer. Become known as “one of the peeps!”

Approachability also applies to meeting people offline. Whenever you’re at an event, smile often and make eye contact. Listen well. Give others the gift of your focused attention.


With all your social channels, it’s important to have an engagement strategy and systems in place to manage communications. You want to develop the reputation of having a fast response time. Or, even if you’re not able to get back to everyone promptly, at least you make a concerted effort to do so and people in your network can feel the difference.

If you’re at the point where you’re not able to personally respond to all tweets and Facebook posts, for example, consider enlisting the support of a social media assistant. You don’t need to delegate your voice and have a ghostwriter; in fact, I don’t personally recommend that. (Unless you take the approach of Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: his Twitter profile makes it clear there are others communicating on his behalf as each post is initialed by the creator.) There’s an easy way to set up multiple users on your Twitter account using tools such as HootSuite or CoTweet

 Treat others as EQUALS

This may be a new concept to you. I learned it from my spiritual mentor, Esperanza, several years ago and it’s made a profound difference to my relationships. Treat others as equals. Don’t put people on pedestals and don’t allow others to do so with you. Be humble. Engage with all people in your networks, regardless of their scores on the various influence-measuring systems out there. I have not found these systems to be all that accurate anyway.

By implementing these four keys in your approach to your online and offline networking, you’ll go a long way to being a successful relationship marketer




Mari Smith is a passionate social media leader, specializing in relationship marketing and Facebook mastery. She is author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Go to for free resources and to find out more about Mari’s speaking and training services. Also, connect with Mari on Facebook, Twitter, google+ and LinkedIn.



{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Kaarina Dillabough November 28, 2011 at 9:00 am

Well, Al, you’ve knocked it out of the park with Mari guest posting here:) Mari is one of the first people who deeply influenced, affected and informed my behavior and activity on social media, and I have the utmost respect for her expertise, and love her effervescent personality. And she’s originally from Canada!

Mari, this is such an excellent post, full of the treasures we’ve come to expect from you. My key take-aways?

People interact with, buy from, trust and do business with people. It is indeed P to P. In terms of treating others as equals: I couldn’t agree more. I saw a little video interview (I wish I could remember where, and by whom: I’d attribute if I could) whereby the person cited the difference between serving food at a shelter, vs. standing in line with the homeless people in line. Being a server was a bit “above”: standing in line was “equal”. Great story: great image.

And speaking of great stories and images: Mari, I so appreciate all of your wisdom, generosity and sharing. Many thanks. Kaarina
Kaarina Dillabough recently posted..Al Alphabet of Business Questions and Tips – Letter E


Mari Smith November 30, 2011 at 2:01 am

Kaarina – thank you so much for your lovely feedback. You’ve warmed my heart! :) I love the “serving” vs. “standing in line with” – brilliant analogy!!
Mari Smith recently posted..7 Ways To Craft Your Facebook Posts For Maximum Shares


Lori Gosselin November 28, 2011 at 11:01 am

Hi Mari,
Nice variation on the CARE acronym! Compassion, Approachable, Responsibility and Equals – who knew Al?! I’m in Canada too – it’s nice to meet you!
The overall feel to this article, to me, is: be warm, be nice, be you. :-)
I’m going over to your place now so I can subscribe! (Thanks Al for introducing Mari!)
Lori Gosselin recently posted..What They Don’t Teach Us in School


Barbara Klein November 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Hi Al, wow – you did it again! Hi Mari, thank you for a beautiful post, your acronym is fantastic, I am a firm believer that marketing is about human relationships and only when you are true to yourself and others, success will follow.

There must be something in the Canadian air which brings forth such greatness, the two commenters (hi Kaarina, hi Lori) above prove my theory.
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Kaarina Dillabough November 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm

What an absolutely lovely thing to say Barbara! Flattered and honored, I am:) Cheers! Kaarina
Kaarina Dillabough recently posted..An Alphabet of Business Questions and Tips – Letter E


Al Smith November 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Love this post Mari. Thanks again so much for taking the time to contribute to the guest blog series. So honored and grateful to have you here.
Your CARE acronym is ……. like the 2nd best one I have ever seen. Ha. Lol.
Really applies to the post, relationship marketing and what we do here at The CARE Movement.

I just got home from my Thanksgiving visit with parents in Huntsville, AL. Reminded again of how nice it is, when someone truly CARE’s. It is all about relationships.

Thanks again Mari. Take CARE.



Anna November 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I like your post -I think that the way you communicate with people is pretty important not only for your business but for everyday life also!
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What is Relationship Marketing November 29, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Thanks for the tips! You made it easier for us to establish a better way to build relationship marketing success for our business. Every marketer wants to achieve what had you reached in your business career.
What is Relationship Marketing recently posted..Relationship video Marketing: Make Your Customers Your Friends for Life


Bill Dorman November 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Check, check, check and double-check. Your outline is pretty much my MO. To me, it is all about the people and I got into social because I thought it was supposed to be social. Little did I realize most everybody was working their butts off in here.

When I finally realized that was an unhealthy and unsustainable model for me; it gave me clarity and direction and made my efforts much more workable.

I truly think it starts P2P and everything else can work off from there.

Good to see you at Al’s and thanks for sharing a great post.
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Claudia November 29, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Mari, I have enjoyed and learned from your book and your Facebook postings for quite some time now. You keep a realistic finger on the pulse of social media and are able to translate your findings into glimmers of usable wisdom for the rest of us. Today’s post is no exception. And, while I love your interpretation of Al’s wonderful acronym, I think my favorite take away from today is the term “soft skills” Maybe that is an old term and I just haven’t been paying enough attention but, today it really made an impact on me. It is indeed our soft skills that will move us forward in our vision. Because, at the end of the day, business and personal relationships are all about people to people. Great post and thank you for sharing!!
Al, as always, you are awesome!
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Mari Smith November 30, 2011 at 2:02 am

Thank you so much, Claudia!! So glad to hear you got value here!!
Mari Smith recently posted..12 Tenets of Relationship Marketing Effectiveness


Burl January 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Mari, you are so right about building relationships being the only way to really market to people. The days of shouting out advertizements while not really caring about the customer are long gone! You definitely do a great job on Google+ of following your own advice. Keep up the great work!
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