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Business Principle #4: Build relationships through marketing.

Marketing can feel overwhelming, but a simple shift in perspective—thinking of it as building a relationship with your customers—can help you move forward more confidently.


This post is part of a series on ten foundational principles of being an entrepreneur.


Marketing. For such a little word, it conjures big ideas. Ads, email, websites, social media—whether you’re just getting started or been at it a while, the prospect of marketing your business can seem daunting. 

Great marketing is all around us. Feeling like you have to do it all can be intimidating, especially when professionals set the bar so high. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and not sure how to move forward, shift your perspective. 

Marketing is simply building a relationship with your customer.

Stop worrying about which specific tactics you should use and focus instead on the relationship with the person on the other end. When you make this shift, marketing feels more human. More personal. You’re looking to connect with your customer over the things you both care about. You know how to do that. 

As we’ve already discussed, you first need to make sure you understand your customer well. But for the relationship to develop, it’s not enough for you to know about them. They have to know you in return and choose to engage with you.  

Building customer relationships through marketing tends to resemble how most relationships are formed—a process of getting the other person to know, like, and trust you.

Know > Be Visible

The first step in the relationship starts in a pretty obvious place. Your customer has to know that you exist; you have to be visible to them. While there are many ways for a potential customer to encounter your product or service, use the research you’ve done to be somewhere they’re likely to be. 

Do they scroll through Instagram? Post there. Spend Saturdays at the farmers market? Hand out fliers and take preorders. Hang out in a local coffee shop? Ask to leave some information next to the register (and start hanging around there yourself!). 

The goal is to make sure prospective customers are aware of your business and come across it often. Although love at first sight might happen, sometimes it takes a few encounters.

Like > Appeal to Common Interests

Think about the relationships in your life. Which ones come the easiest? Probably the ones with people with whom you have something major in common, right? First dates tend to go much more smoothly (and lead to a second!) when you have similar interests, values, or passions.

A customer will move from merely knowing your business to liking it when you appeal to your similarities—particularly the values you have in common. Are they passionate about saving the planet? Show them how sustainability is what you’re all about. Are they family first? Highlight your kid-friendliness.

Being authentic is far more important than being polished. They’ll like you for who you are.

Trust > Deliver

Customers might buy once because they like your product or service. They’ll stick around if you cultivate their trust.

The dictionary definition of trust is when you have confidence in something or someone. Customers will trust you if they know they can rely on your business to be consistent and follow through on your promises. They know you’ll deliver time and time again.

When trust is built with a customer, you won’t have to keep winning them over. They’ll be champions for your business and win others for you.

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