Are Your Relationships An Investment Or An Expense?

This post will take Estimated reading time: 3 minutes to read Referral marketing

I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately and how they relate to business.

As we go about our days, we have relationships with clients, suppliers and other networks including accountants, doctors, hairdressers and financial advisors to name a few.

Last week, I was asked a great question at a networking function that started me thinking about my relationships.

The question was how many of my relationships do I consider an investment and how many are an expense?

It was a great question and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  You see, I’ve realised I have too many that are expenses and it’s time I turned them into investments – marketing investments.

Here is an example to illustrate my point.

Every 4-6 weeks I get a haircut.  I’ve never thought a lot about this “relationship”, because I go to the local hairdresser where I don’t need an appointment.

I just sit down and take pot luck with whichever hairdresser is available.  I have no relationship with one hairdresser, in fact they don’t even know my name and I’ve been a “client” for 3 years.

I also have a personal contact who is a hairdresser.  I met him at a local networking meeting and our kids go to the same school.

He knows I’m a marketing consultant and has told me he has mentioned me to a few of his clients – but I’ve never gone to him for a haircut.

I’ve actually chosen (for no good reason other than convenience) to go elsewhere.

So when you think about it, my contact does around 10 haircuts a day so that’s 50 haircuts a week give or take?  His client base goes into the hundreds.  He knows my name, what I do but I have not invested in his services.

In fact, I would go so far as to say he already knows, likes and trusts me.  So what is stopping him referring more of his clients to me?  It is because I’ve never made the “investment” in him.  But that is about to change.

As it will for others I give my business to.

You see I am now going to view those that I give business to as an investment.  I am going to turn my relationships into marketing investments and remove the expenses from my life where I can.

Why am I doing this?

To increase the number of referrals I get from my business and personal network.

You see I already get some good referrals from my clients, but I want to increase the referrals to receive because I am the client. 

I will invest my money, my time and make sure they understand my business and the great work we have done for our clients.

So think about this in terms of your business.

Who are you giving your business too that give you nothing in return?  What changes can you make to turn those expenses into investments?

It’s definitely something you should consider as part of your referral strategy going forward.  It’s certainly will be for me.

Food for thought…

About the author

Chris Dale Chris Dale is the founder and Managing Director of MarketingHQ. He is a Certified Practising Marketer with over 15 years senior marketing experience. He helps small and medium sized businesses create great marketing strategies and systems that grow their businesses. You can connect with him on or on LinkedIn.

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