Last Friday we started a series of Relationship Marketing posts, Rethinking Relationship Marketing, by my friend and colleague Deb Repacz*. In the series Deb asks several relationship marketing power questions. The first question was, “What’s the basis of this relationship?” One Monday I responded with some practical ideas, some Hip Shots, on how to apply the answers to this important question to your business. This post, the second in the series, asks the question, “What is a Relationship Moment?”
I call a Relationship Moment the point when advertising or any other experience arouses a customer’s interest in your brand or generates an interaction. This can be intangible or tangible but the customer is engaged in what the brand has to offer. And these are the opportunities that your relationship Marketing needs to take full advantage of.
For most companies, advertising campaigns are designed to generate initial interest in the brand, and often constitute the largest portion of the marketing expenditure. The results of a great advertising campaign, or any other marketing effort, is going to be wasted if a follow-on relationship marketing plan isn’t ready to help convert initial interest into a deeper brand commitment.
After a brand successfully creates a Relationship Moment with a customer or prospect, that person typically seeks to validate their emotional feelings with rational proof. This means they are wide open to accepting the reinforcing “reason to believe” behind the carefully crafted distillation of the brand promise. When that validation allows customers to become satisfied enough with their preferences, there seems to be a tipping point, it becomes a brand choice they “own.” Beyond this point, an attack on their choice, such as seeing an ad from a competing choice, is viewed as an attack on their judgment.
Ideally, Relationship Marketing should deliver these proof points immediately after the Relationship Moment is created. You can’t wait for customers to discover your Relationship Marketing program and enroll in it. By then, the window of opportunity will be closed.
I know you can’t always know who is buying or interested in buying your product until they agree to tell you who they are. So what am I proposing? Mass-delivered Relationship Marketing events that provide bits of brand proof through mass communications channels. Delivering multiple sources for brand proof has been shown to work best at building increased commitment. Crazy, huh?
Several research studies have shown that when people are exposed to multiple sources of relevant information they become more confident in their decision. This is at odds with the more common relationship-building theories. Relationship Marketers often fear being too promotional and avoid delivering too much “about the brand” content. But it is exactly what customers want and need to reinforce their initial engagement and become more committed to the brand.
The idea that Relationship Marketers should stand ready to take full advantage of Relationship Moments, to deliver validation early and often, in multi-faceted ways, requires a more integrated view of the communication strategy, of what comes after the primary brand stimulus. Whenever and however the customer reaches out to the brand, the brand must be ready with that next iteration of brand proof that will take them toward deeper commitment.
Are you ready?*Deb Rapacz blends her marketer, agency, and consulting experiences to deliver powerful solutions, which work effectively across all marketing and advertising functions to build a solid base of core buyers. Learn more about Deb and how she help brands achieve success at Reilly and Rapacz.