Posted by: Bret Simmons | May 13, 2010

Relational Capacity

When I evaluate a website, the most important thing I look for is it’s relational capacity. I don’t care how fancy and  gorgeous your website is – if it has no relational capacity your site is just an online billboard. If your site does not have an engine it can’t perform, and relational capacity is the equivalent of horsepower under the hood.

Relational capacity is the ability to continuously and increasingly engage people at your site. That starts with being personal. People relate to and engage with real people, not logos or brands. Tell us your name, a little about yourself, and show us your picture. Help us begin to like and trust you.

Remarkable content is the fuel of relational capacity. Conversation around that remarkable content is the fire. Provide content that meets the needs of your readers/customers. Your goal is to become a recognized authority, a resource of information that is useful to your target audience. NEVER show up talking about yourself or your product. If you have a swimming pool business, show up with content that helps people understand how to select, safely operate, and maintain a swimming pool. Become a trusted source of information about swimming pools and show you truly care about helping people make more informed choices and the sales will follow.

A blog is the single most effective way to build relational capacity at your site. Frankly, if your site does not have a blog, your capacity to relate will be severely limited.

When people leave comments on your blog, make sure to show up to engage them in conversation! As a minimum, acknowledge their effort and thank them for their comment. One of the biggest and stupidest mistakes I see folks make is not responding to comments left on their blog.

Your site should also make it easy for people that are interested in your content to engage with you on your other social media platforms. If you have Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Youtube accounts, provide buttons for people to connect with you there as well. And make sure your blog has an easy to find RSS button so people can subscribe to your posts.

Relational capacity will allow you to make the shift to the new paradigm of marketing, where you attract instead of interrupt customers. It will allow you to convert strangers into friends, and friends into customers. When these new friends and customers spread the word about how remarkable you and your site are, they will do for you what you could never do for yourself with your traditional approach to marketing.

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