Your Best Pick-Up Line Says About Relationship Marketing

by James on January 19, 2009

A client once told me an interesting story. It was a boy meets girl story that said a lot about relationship marketing.

Imagine you are in a bar with the intent of meeting interesting people.  In this situation there are norms of language and dress that are  acceptable. You are dressed to show off your best assets. You put your best foot forward. Stories are told. Laughter ensues. All goes well.

Now imagine the same couple after six months of dating. Do you think the language and presentation is the same as when they first met? Of course it’s not, but marketers seem to think it is.

As a result of this conversation I sat down with the Creative Director responsible for the account. We talked about this idea and came up with an approach we thought would work. The CD considered the skills and inclination of the various copy writers who touched the business and put some into a group that would focus on acquisition, and the others were assigned to customer communication.

The relationship marketing team had the biggest adjustment. They needed to soften up their approach and carefully consider the implications of being in a “relationship.” How should the brand speak to customers under this perspective? This was a significant change and took some time.

There was resistance among the writers and with the clients, this isn’t how it’s always been done, but we stuck to our plan. But we stopped talking to customers like we had just met in a bar and spoke with them as if we had a relationship. It wasn’t easy. I continued to work closely with the Creative Director and the writers and my client ran interference with her colleagues.

We kept at it and started getting better and better results from relationship marketing and sales efforts. Was it a fluke? We don’t think so. We tested the new soft sell approach and compared the results to efforts using the traditional hard sell. The soft sell won every time.

Hip Shots

  • Talk to customers like there is a relationship, like you have been dating for six months, not like you just met in a bar.
  • Deliver value beyond functional benefits to build relationship equity.
  • Understand the relationship stage, new, recent, old, and manage frequency and message to suit the customer’s interest level.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

reena kapoor January 19, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Well said, James! It’s really important to know each consumer and where they are in the relationship & trust continuum. I would add that respect and authenticity are part & parcel of customer relationships from start to finish. Too long we’ve talked “at” them and it’s time to talk “to” them. Social media, online communities/reviews and break-neck speed of information are only aiding a growing dispersion of power to consumers; brands and marketers would only find it in their best interest to heed this changing scape…

reena kapoor´s last blog post..The Buzz

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