Early this year I read an article  Tom Now wrote for StartUp Nation, listing what he considered to be the 20 hottest Internet Marketing Trends for 2009. Every few weeks I have gone back and taken a closer look at one or two of the trends, and how some of our small business clients are incorporating these trends into their own internet marketing plans.

This week: Trend #13: Relationship Marketing – In his post, Now said:

Companies will move towards a relationship-building model with their customers. The downturn in the economy means fewer new customers for a business. To address this, companies are going to need to focus on thrilling their existing customers and building longer-term relationships.

While I agree, relationships are critical, I struggle with the idea that this is a “hot trend”.  To me trends come and go, but building strong relationships with clients this tactic is as old as business itself.  What is new is our ability to use the internet to build and strengthen relationships with clients.  And it is not easy, especially if you have a customer base, which is not really internet savvy.

My suggestion to small biz owners, start small, increase the number of forms, and download options on your website.  Add comment areas to pages, and bring your brand to a larger community through your involvement in social media.

Consider changing your enewsletter from advertisement to information, about things other then your business.  For example, I send a weekly event list.  Yes I feature my events, but also just other programs of interest in the local community. The more I talk about others, the more my readership increaes.  Give your clients something of value, and they will value the relationship.