The beginning of 2010 didn’t start off favorably for Matt Davidson, owner of LOGO Dynamics, a promotional goods and services company. His certified public accountant told Matt what many other small businesses around the country were hearing: “If you have another year like 2009, you ought to consider closing down.” Matt had seen the signs since 2008, but now the pressure was on to make some tough decisions.

Matt says the way he reacted to the economic environment in 2008 and 2009 was wrong. “I shot myself in the foot,” he explains. The CPA wasn’t just talking about the financial approach Matt had taken with his one-man business, but also the time Matt had spent on initiatives like mass emails to potential clients that hadn’t panned out. Since LOGO Dynamics is primarily a promotional products business, the main barrier was that during the recession, Matt’s clients had little or no money to spend.

At the beginning of 2010, Matt had to reflect on his business. “I asked, ‘Where do I go from here? How do I change?”

We’ve Got Mail: Email Marketing & Relationships

Before the beginning of 2010, Matt had already created a blog, although he admits that he didn’t have as much time to update it as he wanted. That February, he decided to go to a seminar sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Promotional Products Association entitled, “Best Practices in Email Marketing.” While LOGO Dynamics had already been implementing email and blog marketing strategies, this class taught him that there were more steps to take. He decided to try Constant Contact’s permission-based, email marketing to help him succeed.

We asked Matt how long it took him to see results from his first newsletter. “Twenty minutes,” he told us. “Somebody emailed me back and said, ‘Thanks for reminding me, the boss has been asking me for two weeks to get some more umbrellas.’”

Matt believes that the value of relationships is something that many businesses overlook these days. In part, he blames his rough years on the lack of developing new B2B relationships, because he dropped out of his networking groups. Having learned from that mistake, he now advocates forgoing a mass-market approach and instead building more personally on existing relationships while adding new ones from face-to face interactions.

“You have to decide how you define your business,” Matt says. “If it’s just goods and services exchanging hands for money, then you’re a commodity and everything will be geared toward price.” Instead, he advises an approach that reinforces relationships. Businesses should create “wow!” moments and use email marketing to demonstrate them — which “opens up a whole new perspective on what your business is,” Matt adds.

In addition, Matt says that LOGO Dynamics’ email newsletters give him the opportunity to highlight the good experiences he has with clients; issues highlight problems they faced and how Matt helped them come to a solution. That way, other subscribers of his newsletters can be inspired by the examples.

To get this message out, Matt uses Constant Contact’s email marketing tool to connect with customers, as well as people he meets at trade shows and through networking groups. At the events he attends, Matt makes sure he gets new colleagues’ permission to send emails. As a Constant Contact Partner, he also teaches presentations about marketing and best practices in e-mail.

His bottom line? “If you’re going to stay in business, you better be continually looking for ways to build relationships.”

How is your business or organization growing customer and client relationships? If you’d like us to share your story, let us know in the comments section below.