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.
There are two things (among others) to keep in mind when creating your communications piece. I’m making the assumption here that segmentation is not an option (for whatever reason) and we are dealing with print (physical or electronic) media that is delivered to the audience. However, these two items also pertain to other visual media as well.
- Audience – who are you communicating with? This can have great ramifications on the text and design of your piece. Age, gender, occupation, location, etc. All of this comes into play when writing your text, designing the graphics, and determining delivery methods.
If you are not segmenting, your group will potentially cross a number of demographics. This is fine as long as you keep #2 in mind.
- Purpose – what do you want this audience to do? If you want one particular action from them, don’t muddy the water by including extra details or offering other options. If it is purely informational, don’t ask them to do something (except maybe to share it with others). If part of your audience might be interested in some other aspect of your product or services, avoid the temptation to add those options. Leave that for another day and another communications opportunity.
Remembering these two items in particular will help you keep your communications clear and concise and will increase your effectiveness.
PBS Newshour had an interesting segment during the show on January 7. A University of British Columbia research team conducted a small study on the effects of giving in toddlers and then carried it beyond to college students and adults. In the study, they found that even young toddlers express happiness when giving something to others.
I suspect anyone in fund-raising/fund-development will tell you, “duh” to the concept that it is actually a pleasurable experience to give. One of the interesting (and again, not new) findings in the study is that people who have the opportunity to see and/or experience the impact of their giving are even happier than those who just gave to a general “fund”. However, how often do organizations get caught up in trying to raise funds so that “we can accomplish our mission.”?
You likely saw the UNICEF and/or ASPCA commercials during the holiday season. What struck me about those efforts was the fact that there was no impact of my gift. All I saw was a portrayal of a very negative situation with a statement – help us help them. I have to confess, I was extremely turned off by the ads finding them very ineffective at telling me how either of these organizations do anything positive. Where were the impact/results pictures?
Watch the PBS segment and then consider your own communications. What are you telling your readers/listeners/site visitors? Are you telling them why they should support you? Or are you telling them that their gift has changed the life of Samuel who now has his own bed or Mary who can go to school because now there is clean water right in her village?
Saw a funny one the other day.
I was out shopping at the local mega-mart and passed a shelf with peanut butter on it. One of the brands for sale had a front label that said in big bold font – 100% ALL NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER. Then in a smaller font in a breakout bubble – MADE WITH SEA SALT.
So wait – is it 100% natural peanut butter or is it peanut butter with sea salt?
Or maybe it should be pure peanut butter with added sea salt?
Words matter. As does spacing and punctuation. Design and choose wisely.
WestJet implements a brilliant Christmas marketing surprise using a unique blend of technology and staff.
The end result – customers for life.
I dare you to watch without smiling.