Real Life Examples of Genuine Relationship Building That You Can Apply in Your Marketing

Part 1 of 4, Warm Emails with Nel Shelby


Marketing is the process of earning interest and investment from your ideal clientele.

That’s right. Marketing is a process

It’s not a one-and-done ad that triples your revenue. It’s not a single TED talk that leads to evergreen sales of your book. Marketing encompasses research, experimentation, storytelling, repetition, sales and relationship building. 

When you were five, making a new friend was as simple as walking up to another kid on the playground and saying, “Let’s be friends.”

But when you were five, you didn’t have any buying or decision-making power, did you? 

Relationship building as an adult, in life or in business, takes a lot more time and energy. 

(And strategic thinking — that’s why attracting and retaining your ideal clients is its own standalone unit in my 8-week Confident + Consistent Marketing program.)

I mean, now that I’m in my 30s, I often think I don’t even want any more friends. It sounds like so much work.

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The good news is that work is usually worth it. We have better judgment now than we did when we were five. (And if you’ve done your homework, you know the exact kind of person you want to build a relationship with for your business, too.) 

I can think of many ways to build warm and genuine relationships with your best-fit clients.

Ones that spark referrals and return business and collaborations and more. And I promise to continue sharing examples on this blog, because no matter what tools or digital frameworks come and go, knowing how to build a real relationship with your clients is your best bet for survival in running your own business.

How might you open yourself up to deeper connection with your followers, clients and fans?

Exhibit A: Nel Shelby’s “warm” emails

Nel Shelbyrelationship building with Nel Shelby runs a video production company for the performing arts. She works mainly in the dance industry, filming performances for choreographers in New York City and beyond. She makes documentary films about dance education, and she has prioritized building relationships throughout building her business.

She’s built a team that is talented and fun to be around, and she has always invested in special touchpoints with clients that demonstrate how much she appreciates them. Starbucks gift cards during a busy season. Personal thank yous in the mail. 

Nel had a habit of sending “warm letters” to her friends, family, collaborators and clients for years. Direct mail filled with personal notes of gratitude, excitement and achievement. Sent out with trust that they made an impression on the folks on her list. 

In 2019, we decided to experiment with the concept of the “warm letter” via email. Nel started to send one email every month that didn’t have to contain a clear connection to a business objective or a direct call to action. 

One month, she shared a podcast she was newly obsessed with and how it was inspiring her in the editing room. Another month, she shared a personality test she took online and explained how it opened her eyes to new ways of working with her team. 

In a few short months, these “warm emails” became the most opened and best-received emails she sends. They spark conversations between her and her clients. They surprise people or uncover common interests. Most of all, they stand out. They are uniquely Nel.

This sharing of personal experience with your audience can be the current that keeps your name floating right in front of them the next time they need what you have to offer.

How might you spark conversation with your people?

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A lot of us are swinging between overwhelmed and ready-to-create. If now feels like the time to invest your focus and energy into your company, this step-by-step framework will help you assemble the 5 fundamentals in modern marketing FAST.

I strategize, consult and manage digital marketing and communications for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. I’m based in Brooklyn, because I have a thing for exposed brick, cozy, local coffee shops and the can’t stop, won’t stop energy of New York.

Because I work with small companies, I get the chance to really know my clients – what makes them tick and how and why they should stand out in a crowded marketplace. A lot of my clients have a smaller staff, a limited budget and are already stretched thin for time. This leads us to tailor marketing strategies and solutions to each company’s unique needs and actual capacity.

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