In the marketing and sales world, the term “relationship based marketing” is often thrown out as a somewhat trite phrase. Many marketing and sales professionals think that what they are doing is relationship based when in actual fact it may only be based on the information in the database.
- What does relationship marketing really mean?
- How is it defined?
- How should it be defined?
- Does it really make a difference?
What does relationship marketing really mean? I suppose at its bedrock, it is knowing your audience. That will mean understanding the data set that is behind the name and address: birthdate, gender, wealth demographic, affiliated relationships, interests, etc. Based on that information, the organization begins to understand the person behind the record.
But is that information enough? It depends. Are you selling screwdrivers or are you selling a relationship with your organization? Selling screwdrivers is easy. You market to the dataset that will be most interested in the product. They buy the screwdriver and the transaction is done.
But why not take a longer term approach. That is where true relationship begins. It isn’t a one-way transaction – “what can our organization get from this individual”. It now becomes a two-way interaction – “how can I help the individual solve the issue that they are facing.” And if done well, with integrity, it becomes a relationship with a longer vision.
In a recent conversation I heard an individual comment – “nobody else would talk to us but (organization) came and met with my team and helped us put a plan in place to get to where we needed to be.” That is the essence of relationship. Ask yourself how you can help a customer/client/prospect solve an issue that they are dealing with. It stops being about closing the deal and becomes a mutually beneficial and satisfying interaction. And it is built on a long-term perspective.
Get past the numbers and focus on the individuals. It is a challenge that many managers wrestle with and takes a unique focus. General marketing will help to identify prospects. Relationship building will turn those prospects into lifetime members of your tribe.