7 Ways You’re Screwing Up
Relationship Marketing

Hugs

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of relationship marketing. Now keep it up if you know what it means.

Lots of hands still up, huh? OK. Fine. You, there. You with the iPhone and the I’m Kind of a Big Deal on Twitter t-shirt. What does relationship marketing mean?

Mmm hmm?

Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. I tuned out at “creating authentic connections” and “establishing many-to-many connections that foster meaningful dialogue.” DING DING DING. You are WRONG, my tweep, my Facebook friend, my FriendFeed flunkie.

Let’s talk about what “relationship marketing” really is, shall we?

According to Wikipedia, and Len Barry who coined the term, “relationship marketing is a form of marketing which emphasizes customer retention and satisfaction, rather than a dominant focus on point-of-sale transactions.”

1. Relationship marketing is not about relationships. It’s about marketing.

As a relationship marketer, I focus on making sure you not only buy my stuff today, but you keep buying it over and over and over. “Relationship” refers to the customer’s purchase history, not some deep interpersonal connection.

We do not take moonlit walks on the beach. We are not friends. We are not acquaintances. As a matter of fact, we couldn’t pick each other out of a police lineup.

As a business, I’ve simply agreed to listen to you — or, more likely, people demographically similar to you — for long enough to know what you might buy. Then I make it and sell it to you.

If this is our relationship, we both need therapy.

2. Relationship marketing is not about authenticity.

I could tell you I’m just an ordinary person who happens to be exactly like you. I could tell you I’m the reincarnation of Cleopatra’s pool boy. I could tell you I’m a one-eared lumberjack.

It doesn’t matter a whit. If I get you signed up for my advance discount list and give you a good enough deal, we both win.

3. Relationship marketing is not about transparency.

Transparency is nice, and sometimes necessary, but it’s not what this is about.

It’s fascinating when Rand Fishkin tells me how much money he made last year, but it doesn’t affect whether or not I keep my SEOMoz membership.

4. Relationship marketing is not about connection.

Just because Steve Jobs doesn’t know your kid’s name doesn’t mean you’re going to buy a Dell next time.

5. Relationship marketing is not about being social.

Social is Sunday morning brunch with your buddies. It’s not Twitter.

And frankly, you’ll have a tough time selling anything in either place.

6. Relationship marketing is not about equality.

The only thing that’s equal about you being my “fan” and me begging you for money is that we’re equally codependent.

7. Relationship marketing is not even about communication.

I buy apples every week and the things don’t even have a label, let alone a communication strategy.

You joining my Facebook fan page is not a relationship.

You following me on Twitter is not a relationship.

You commenting on my blog is not a relationship.

Let’s face it, if your boyfriend treated you as badly as I do, your mother would tell you to break up with him.

Relationship marketing is about marketing.

The touchy feely, Summer of Love, gosh-aren’t-we-great-friends stuff is nice. Sometimes it’s even necessary. But it’s not what relationship marketing is actually about.

Relationship marketing is about getting the customer to stick around long enough to keep shopping. And it’s about making sure that customer comes back next time to buy more stuff.

Don’t fall so in love with the relationship that you forget about the marketing. Like talking about benefits and not just features. Like having a halfway decent market position. Like a real call to action. Like, you know, selling stuff.

All the authentically transparent connections in the world won’t fix those if they’re broken. But stick a Wheaties coupon on the back of every box of Wheaties and you’ve got it nailed.

About the Author: Naomi Dunford is the author of IttyBiz and co-author of How To Launch The **** Out Of Your Ebook. The bio she wrote was better than this one, but editorial staff were forced to change it due to content of an adult nature.

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Comments

  1. Perhaps relationship marketing isn’t what people think it is, but whatever you are describing sounds pretty good to me. Everyone has relationships to products and brands that aren’t rational, and are based around good prices or good products, they are based around relationships. Doing all of the above things sound like good policies to me.

  2. hmmm good article…
    Relationship marketing is all about how to keep and build your existing relationship more and more stronger and that is it, in business point of view… this is what I think.

    In fact every relationship marketing department of any business has its own priorities.

  3. I like this analysis. Looking at it through my lenses, as the shopper, just give me a good deal and a good product. That’s really what it’s all about.

  4. Glad to see that features/benefits are back and the benefits are getting their due. I’ve spent more than one meeting struggling with a client who is trying to shove features down a client’s throat.

  5. As long as I don’t have to touch anyone while I’m doing it.

  6. Thanks for the reminder.

    If Marketing is about making the customer want your product, Relationship Marketing is about retaining that want.

  7. While you’re busy bitch-slapping people back to reality (and perhaps it’s warranted), I will say that I fundamentally disagree with what I interpret the message of this post to be. Relationship marketing encompasses ALL OF THOSE THINGS, and if done correctly it enhances the marketing component as well.

    The truth is if you’re company is authentic, transparent, fosters connection, cultivates community, et al then people are more likely to keep buying your product. Do you need all these things if you have a far superior product? Of course not, but if your product is just one of many how do you stand out? With relationships.

    What I hope you’re getting at here is that MOST people focus so much on the relationships they neglect the fact that benefits and market position matter. They get lost in the minutia of it all and don’t take action necessary to close deals and make money. How unfortunate, but part of the reason your brand is successful is because you’re no-holds barred authentic with people. That’s reality. And in some cases it’s a relationship.

    R

  8. It’s nice to see someone cut through some of the BS associated not just with relationship marketing but with social media marketing as a whole (and maybe marketing as a whole).

    In order to get people to stick around long enough to buy more product, etc, you do need to make a connection. And the connection usually comes not from marketing as much as quality and benefit.

  9. What I hope you’re getting at here is that MOST people focus so much on the relationships they neglect the fact that benefits and market position matter.

    I think that’s exactly what she’s getting at. :)

  10. Naomi, I am so proud of you for getting your point across without needless expletives!

    See, it can be done! And you’ll note that your personality still shines through.

    Excellent! Keep this up and I may re-subscribe to your blog.

  11. @Brian – I know that, and you know that, but I’d hate for people who aren’t familiar with Naomi’s disposition to dismiss this message because they can’t see the silver lining and make it applicable to their own lives.

    I’d also hate for them to completely dismiss all the “relationship factors” that enable some companies, people, etc. to separate themselves. As someone who prides himself on being a relationship marketer, I’m a huge proponent of the way in which all those factors work together to increase the bottom line.

    And maybe I’m just stirring the pot a bit as well :-)

    Thanks for the response!

  12. @ Ryan — Absolutely. My clients and customers are very small business owners — usually sole proprietors who are experiencing their business version of their “coming of age” in an era where social media is considered the only media. They don’t realize marketing existed before Seth Godin. So they’re running around building tribes but not actually selling anything. They’re disillusioned and thinking they’re doing it wrong. They’re scared and broke.

    What nobody seems to be telling them is that they’re not doing it wrong — they’re just not doing it all. They’re running around trying to build all these relationships and forgetting to actually convert.

    Thanks for your comment — it’s great to meet you.

  13. I agree with what you are saying here for the most part, Naomi. I do think that several factors that go into relationship marketing can vary A LOT between different types of businesses and industries. Cool and very thought provoking post.

  14. Well, yah! Naomi, the point you are making is dead on. And, let’s not swing the pendulum too far, shall we? I’m agreeing with Ryan.

    My parents’ retail store is an excellent example. They have all those touchy-feely relationship things going on that you were battering into the ground. My parents have known the names of their customers, and some of their customers’ children. When one of the long-term employees died (she’d been there for 30 years) customers and people in the neighborhood were coming in and bursting into tears right there in the store all week.

    Here’s why: if you aren’t being authentic/transparent to a certain degree, people won’t stick around. Because they can tell you are lying. People know.

    And, if they don’t know, and find out, they’re gone, and they’ve posted on 10,000 blogs about how you tricked them and are inauthentic.

    Let’s make this a both/and post, rather than an either/or thing.

  15. Naomi, you offend me. Not one F’n curse word!

    Now I feel “marketed” to. ;)

    Seriously, good write.

  16. Relationship marketing is not about marketing, it’s about making profit. No marketing is about marketing, everything is about profit.

  17. HA! “People who didn’t realize marketing existed before Seth Godin”

    That’s just classic.

    Thanks for the post and all it’s ass-kicking awesomeness!

    All the best!
    deb

  18. Carl Weinstein :

    This post is filled with half truths and some blatant lies.

    Truth => Ultimately marketing is a tool to attract consumers, retain them and make sells either effortless, or just happen.

    Lie => Relationships do not matter. Influencing is just being effective even if we lie, deceive, or just don’t care about our customers.

    This kind of half truths that paint marketing as the slime balls of business is what stinks about this article.

    Yes we are to focus on results. No we are not to lie, care nothing about people, manipulate them and just sell, sell, sell.

    Any good textbook on marketing, sociology or even undergrad ethics would tell you that. But I guess truth does not matter.

    So next time you write something about relationships, please check your facts, remove half truths and keep the marketing word out of it. It’s already pretty tarnished right now, we don’t need more articles filled of BS to make it worse.

    The financial world has had it’s share of Gordon Geckos, they also did not care about ethics, doing the right thing, and transparency. I don’t think you will get the point, but at least someone will get it.

  19. Thinking about this from the photography side of my biz….you know? I *have* to make a connection with my clients in order to get the shots that I get. I have to interact with them and they have to feel comfortable with me.

    But I don’t call them up the next week and ask them how that fight with their husband ended up or invite them over for tea. (You know, if I had tea….)

    All the best!
    deb

  20. I think this article is on point. One thing I would have liked to see called out at the start is that Relationship Marketing is basically just Marketing. Marketing IS the relationship and vice versa. Brands conjure up humanistic qualities and traits. That’s why we can relate to them as people. Marketing helps to create that image and facilitate the relationship we have with the brand, the product and the company (in no particular order).

  21. Carl, Naomi doesn’t need me to defend her, but you might want to take a second to consider that you’ve missed the point.

    Or, take a look through the over 3 years worth of content on this blog. Show me one instance where we advocate unethical marketing or lying. Instead, you’ll find a relentless theme of treating prospects and customers as exactly what they are — the most important thing any business can possibly have.

    Now, go back to sentence one of this comment.

  22. Hi Naomi,
    You do the best tough love in town. Know why I listen? You sold me on you the first time you answered my email. You don’t just know your stuff, you walk the talk and are one of the most kindhearted, genuine, generous people I’ve ever met online. I’ve achieved more online since getting to know you and buying your products than I could ever have done without the self-belief you inspire.

  23. “Just because Steve Jobs doesn’t know your kid’s name doesn’t mean you’re going to buy a Dell next time.”

    Just the reality check I need to see plastered to the base of my iMac every time I’m tempted to mess around on FB or twitter instead of writing, designing or recording more & better of what people want & need from my work.

    Thanks!
    Butterfly

  24. 1. Copyblogger is not about Jon Morrow.

    Does that mean Jon’s a bad guy? Does that mean we should avoid him? Or shun him?

    2. Copyblogger is not about Sonia Simone.

    Does that mean she’s stupid? Does that mean she’s not worth our time? Should we forget she exists?

    3. Copyblogger is not about Brian Clark’s killer haircut.

    Does that mean that we should tie him down and shave his head?

    Copyblogger wouldn’t be what it is without Jon and Sonia and, of course, Brian’s killer haircut. But if you hire Jon and Sonia and then cut your hair just like Brian’s, you don’t build yourself a handy dandy little Copyblogger.

    That’s what happens with relationship marketing. People are transparent and authentic and communicative and social and then they leave it at that. Then they go back to their day jobs, wondering why they never made any money.

    Nobody’s saying relationships aren’t good. We’re saying they’re not the only thing.

  25. Mark Pennington :

    I thought this was a good reminder to separate tactics from strategies. Authenticity, transparency, community, etc. can all be great tactics, but they won’t matter for naught if you don’t have a well conceived strategy that lays out a plan to make a profit. And they could be the wrong tactic if they aren’t in keeping with core brand attributes.

    With all the interest in social media, it’s easy to get swept up in the latest trends and make a tactic (expanding the number of ways to give and receive messages with customers) into a strategy. This was a good kick in the pants to make sure you have your basics worked out first — and that new endeavors don’t deviate from well thought out plans.

  26. I disagree with points 2, 4 and 7.

    Point#2: I think brand authenticity is crucial to the success of any marketing effort. If your not true to your brand, and mislead users; they won’t trust you and wont buy from you.

    Point #4: Relationship marketing, in a sense, is all about connections. If a company doesn’t create and maintain their connections properly they’d be doing themselves a huge disservice.

    Point #7: Communication is the game. If you don’t see the relationship building potential in a user who becomes a follower/fan/ or commentator, relationship marketing will end up being limited to brand loyalists who would buy from you regardless of your marketing efforts.

    However I do agree that relationship marketing is more complicated than any one point.

  27. What a great article. I just subscribed to Copyblogger the other day because I came across the site and saw one outstanding article. I had no clue they were going to keep coming like this!

    I just started taking my blogging seriously. This is really helpful to me because one of the first things that I noticed (when I started taking it seriously) is that people are all over the social networking sites like crazy. While there is nothing really wrong with that, it only took me a couple of days before I realized I was one of thousands, and their request to “follow” me was bogus.

    I was turned off and no longer interested in their “connection.” I am willing to buy just about anything to help me get jumpstarted right now. Perhaps they should have focused on getting me a product rather than following me out of nowhere and then disappearing!

    I really like this article. I am going to make sure it stays in my favorites collection.

  28. You’re right, it’s not about being social and connecting with others, it’s about marketing. It always has been about marketing.

  29. I enjoyed reading this post and I see Naomi’s points, but Ryan’s as well. Relationship marketing isn’t set in stone, and it can blend the best of both relationships and marketing depending on your business. Do I want a relationship with the company that delivers apples to my grocer? Not really. Do I want a relationship with the bridal store that helped me prepare for my wedding? Absolutely. So it depends on who you’re marketing to and what they expect.

  30. Always good to see assumptions get shaken up a little bit. :)

  31. Thanks for providing a provocative article.
    The one thing that I see today is a lack of trust. As consumers we have been overmarketed to and people are cynical about the intention of a particular marketing message. Let’s face it. Who wants to be sold to?
    Take trust from the equation and what do you have?
    Empty marketing and of course how does trust develop between two people?
    Through relationship.

  32. Ian MacDonald :

    “I could tell you I’m just an ordinary person who happens to be exactly like you. I could tell you I’m the reincarnation of Cleopatra’s pool boy. I could tell you I’m a one-eared lumberjack.

    It doesn’t matter a whit. If I get you signed up for my advance discount list and give you a good enough deal, we both win.”

    Completely discounting the idea that brand affinity or propensity even exists then? If brands aren’t authentic, they make themselves vulnerable to new entrants who offer the same deals but with an affable trustworthy brand.

    Your point is short-sighted transactional marketing taken to the extreme. Any brand that relies on price and discounts without building trust & affinity with the customer(dare I say the R word?) is digging it’s own grave.

  33. So, I fire up the old browser, head over to Copyblogger to check out the post for the day, and I see a post by none other than Naomi Dunford. Three thoughts flicker through my mind: 1) the headline and intro don’t contain any profanity, so it must be a different Naomi, 2) it’s a smart and funny and intriguing, so maybe it is the real Naomi, 3) what the hell did Brian have to offer to convince her to write a guest post? 4) do I really want to know?

    Awesome to see a post from you, Naomi. :-)

    I’ve got to say though, seeing a post from you without profanity, sex metaphors, and insults is a little… weird. It’s like walking into church and seeing Howard Stern at the lectern, giving the sermon. Just kind of wrong, you know? Heebie-jeebie wrong.

    Still, I’ll take it. Hey — maybe we should start another Copyblogger feed for X-rated marketing advice. Or another blog. Now, THAT would be something worth reading.

  34. I agree with Naomi’s sentiment in that building the relationship should not be the only focus but I also believe that building relationships with customers is still really important, especially in the current economic climate.

    Assuming you have a valued product, if you build the relationship, people are far more likely to come back and buy from you again than if you don’t.

    Not that I have any extensive research to back this up (just a not so accurate sample size of family and friends and my own observations), I think that people (myself included) are tired of the big, greedy, “wouldn’t want to know you even if I could”, “couldn’t give a toss about anything but money” corporates. I prefer to buy locally from the guy who appreciates my business and avoid the big chains or those places that treat me like a number as much as possible.

    I know quite a few friends and family members feel the same and their shopping habits are changing even to the point that it’s now not as convenient for them (ie they’ll go out of their way to 3 local places to get groceries instead of one big supermarket).

    Very interesting post Naomi and good points Ryan.

  35. The issue is the “friend” word. It’s very deceiving. People try to take advantage of it.

  36. Hi Naomi,

    What can I say? You never disappoint me. Each new post is better than the last one.

    After reading this post, I certainly have to think about changing my marketing strategy. Keep up the good work.

    Thanks a lot and I wish you all the best.

    Mani Raj
    Havoc Marketing

  37. Thanks for the reminder that we’re not aiming to be friends with our clients. Everyone seems so focused these days on “relationship marketing” that we’ve forgotten, or maybe we never even realized, that marketing is the bottom line.

  38. Amen, Naomi. It’s still about selling the product. Anything less, and little is accomplished.

    It’s akin to producing million dollar commercials for the Super Bowl that are a creative person’s orgy, but leave viewers ignorant about the company and its product.

  39. I think it depends on the marketer you are and the audience you have. I’m not sure I agree with many of the points, but I can understand where you are coming from.

    It can be about all those things if you are not lined up from top to bottom. For example, if you “act” authentically but your intent or your marketing is a contradiction of that then I think you are begging for trouble down the road.

    I still think relationships sell…but that doesn’t mean you have to use them. However, I wonder what relationship marketing is without the relationship. I have a hard time defining a proxy relationship as an actual relationship.

    Gary V – relationship…Chris Guillebeau – Relationship

    Many IM’ers – Illusion of Relationship…works short term but they always have to find more suckers.

  40. Carl Weinstein :

    @Brian This is the worst article on your website ever. It was clearly written to shock, or “demand attention.” A clear case of a big ego, or just write whatever it takes to get page views. That to me is nothing more than a lame excuse to write blatant lies, unethical bullshit, and a bunch of replies that don’t address the point. No matter how many years of experience one has, the proof of one’s personal values and ethics is demonstrated in each and every paragraph we write, in each and every action we take. And clearly the ethics and even basic real Marketing knowledge in this article were severely lacking.

    I called it like I saw it.

    You nor Naomi have addressed any of the issues I raised. This article should be called: How to Manipulate People and Feel Good About it.

    This is not marketing, this is Con Marketing 101.

    @naomi I don’t know you, I did find the article entertaining, but very misleading, and yes I did get pissed off by it. Articles like this, and even worse people who actually believe all the bullshit in them make marketeers only second in the slime ball scale under car salesmen.

    Writers now are used top put anything on the screen to get noticed. Put the truth next time, not just shocking statements to get page views. Truth can attract page views, ethics can be radical, try it next time.

    Your reply actually supports my criticism, yet of course you do not apologize at all, you still stand by all the mediocre half truths you wrote. And what you wrote is not marketing, is the art of the swindle.

    I can go over each and every one of your points and tear it to pieces, showing where the half truth is and where all the bullshit lies. I even think deep inside of it you know it, but you prefer the shock value of your text.

    To all the others guys and gals out there, thanks for those who somewhat agreed with me. Very Politically Correct all of you. Political Correctness is the biggest impediment to truth, it makes you speak half baked truths because you are afraid to offend anybody. Don’t be afraid, write from the inside, tell your honest opinion, no swearing needed, but be honest.

  41. After reading the comments between Ryan Stephens & Naomi, I have a better understanding of the point of this article. Although I got it towards the end, I had some doubt and the commentary helped out. It makes complete sense! Great Article Naomi

  42. @Carl I think you should really check out Ryan Stephens Comment. He really cleared it up for me and now when I go back and read this Article, I think it’s perfect. If you look at the overall tone of the article, it is a bit negative, however it catches the attention of those who feel they know what “Relationship Marketing” is all about. Each negative headline draws the attention of that reader to immediately say…”What the heck does she mean?” and will further allow you to read her point.

    However, what really stuck out to me was when she said:
    ————
    “Relationship marketing is about getting the customer to stick around long enough to keep shopping. And it’s about making sure that customer comes back next time to buy more stuff.

    Don’t fall so in love with the relationship that you forget about the marketing. Like talking about benefits and not just features. Like having a halfway decent market position. Like a real call to action. Like, you know, selling stuff.

    All the authentically transparent connections in the world won’t fix those if they’re broken. But stick a Wheaties coupon on the back of every box of Wheaties and you’ve got it nailed”
    ————

    What I get from it is that people, including myself… concentrate so hard on becoming more “attractive” from a relationship stand point and they tend to pull away from marketing. We get caught up in the mechanics of it. The less we focus on marketing, the less money our business we’ll make.

    And as Ryan said…”If you’re company is authentic, transparent, fosters connection, cultivates community, et al then people are more likely to keep buying your product”

    -JL

  43. Naomi, you’re so right! I see a lot of people who spend so much time on the relationship and forget that it’s about selling – it’s a business and you need to market.

    @ Carl, you said you don’t know Naomi, yet you’re willing to call her unethical and a liar. Now, I don’t ‘know’ her personally either. Our ‘relationship’? I read her blog, I’ve bought a lot of her products, I’ve been on here rss and email list for longer than I can remember.

    Does this mean we have a relationship? We have a business/customer relationship, yes. Naomi wouldn’t know me if she fell over me, (although she might remember me if I said I was the person who once objected to extreme unnecessary profanity in one particular blog post).

    Never, not once, in all the time I have been been reading Naomi’s work or in her products have I ever seen her to be unethical or untruthful. Quite the opposite.

    If you don’t know her, and you’ve admitted that you don’t, then get off your high horse. Go prove your points on your own blog and let us read them there. Attacking her here in comments isn’t going to win you any points. Sure you can disagree – refute it on your own blog and you’ll get a lot more publicity.

    I haven’t seen anything in your comment that actual disproves anything that Naomi said.

  44. @Carl – I’m not supporting Naomi, neither am I not supporting you, but I do understand where both of you are coming from.

    Naomi is writing from an entirely different perspective from you, that’s why the misunderstanding. She is talking to bloggers who only know relationships and shaking them up to reality that they need to start marketing.

    You are coming from the perspective of a marketer who understands the importance of relationships, that’s why the article seems to be about bashing the relationships factor in marketing.

  45. I think Relationship Marketing is really just about making your customers think that you truly care about their best interest. If they think you care, its a big step in the right direction towards having them think of you as a friend.

  46. Good post and obviously caused some debate. I agree with what you are expressing and I think how you do so is what makes this post so powerful. Well done!!

  47. I still don’t get a very clear answer what exactly the relationship marketing is.

    You describe the whole definition using the cute words, but unfortunately they are all NOT, but WHAT.

    Can u tell me in just a few words?

  48. Thats why we manage our client data base. We always update them with the new policy of squidoo.

    Like today Squidoo put few new policy and according to that we will have to modify those clients lenses as well which they bought from us before six months.

    We just want to make sure that if you bought a lens from us that means we will keep this relation for life term and will provide the necessary service FREE OF COST.

    I think this is also come under relationship marketing. We know that one satisfied client will bring you more clients to you.

  49. I love this. Could you get a bullhorn and shout the point around a bit? I honestly think that so many people have their heads stuck so far up their egos these days, trying to make themselves the Next Best Relationship, that they forget they own a business.

  50. I love this article. I think it’s spot on and cuts to the chase of all the ballocks about relationship marketing that’s out there!

  51. Good stuff! And all of it 100% on the money. Like all those who purport that “if you’re not on Facebook and Twitter, you might just as well shutter your business doors and go to work at KMart,” few talking about relationship marketing really understand it, and even fewer practice it.

  52. @ Youping — Sure. The term was coined in the 80s. The premise is, instead of focusing on point of sale transactions — i.e. creating a one time sale — you focus on a longer term purchase history. You encourage them to buy more than once. It has a lot to do with the idea that it’s a lot cheaper and easier to keep an existing customer than to find a new one.

  53. You know what I love? When people comment without really reading the article. Classic stuff.

    That said, glad to hear the conversation – on both sides of the fence – shows that some people are really thinking about the post.

  54. Great post, Naomi. I’m one of those “focusing on the relationship, sucking at the marketing” types, so I needed to read this. I worry that I’m putting out a blog that people like to read, but that it simply doesn’t occur to them to purchase coaching from me, and there’s truly something wrong with that.

  55. I was trained in “relationship sales” techniques when I started working part-time at a camera store in 1970. (Just call me “Grandpa”.) Since we weren’t the cheapest in town, we had to offer some kind of other benefit — so we actually LISTENED to our customers, EDUCATED them about the products, and ADDED value as part of the sales process.

    It’s nice to see this discovered, once again. Now I’ll go back to bingo and the early-bird special.

  56. Excellent article. Everyone seems to be getting completely absorbed in the social media. Most people just use it to fill empty time but we must not fall in that trap unless it is to convert someone into a client. Otherwise it’s just a waste of our valuable time that would be better spent being productive in marketing, sales and running our businesses.

    At least that is my take on what Naomi meant.

  57. Hey Naomi, cool post. I specially like the on-your-face type of writing style, it gives the copy an attitude of its own. Psst, Just trying to mimick a similar tone with my posts too ;)

    Looking forward to knowing how you frame what relationship marketing actually is !

  58. You know Carl, even if you had a website that might help establish your credibility, you’d still be incredibly obtuse. You obviously need your information mashed up and spoon fed.

  59. Hi Naomi…interesting article. Obviously, if you’re keeping it with the original definition / intention of relationship marketing, you are absolutely correct.

    But I think the beginning of your post misleads (not in a bad way – I see why you’re making the connection) the reader into thinking social networking is somehow the same as the relationship marketing, coined long before the advent of the Internet. I’d say that although they are somewhat related, they are two different things.

  60. Where can I get one of those T-shirts? Because I’m kind of a big deal on Twitter.

    (P.S: FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT)

  61. Seeing through any veneer is terrific, and we need more of this.

    Relationship marketing, however, isn’t more about marketing than relationships. Your piece seems to prioritize a short-term sell and devalue the long-term relationship. It’s cynical in some helpful ways but I think it misses the point of what relationship marketing is becoming in the digital age.

    Relationship marketing is built on principles of bonding the right customers to your brand and sustaining that through time. Admittedly, it’s about a purchase eventually or another one at a future point. But it’s not constantly about the sell (for many products and services it actually can’t be — tech purchases for example take multiple months of nurturing and often involve multiple stakeholders), but more about the bonding to the brand or fostering a conversation around it. Your piece doesn’t really recognize that.

    Your #1 point about buying it over and over isn’t right either. You make it sound like reckless pantry-stuffing which isn’t true for most sophisticated marketers. Sometimes, it’s about finding the right people to buy and finding what else they need to be satisfied by the relationship with the brand.

    I think the era of the brand trying to be your ‘friend’ lasted 10 minutes and no one believes it now nor did they probably believe it then. Especially as brands become “pull,” rather than “push”, customers really have control and don’t have to worry about fake brands or disingeuous attempts. Customers can and will go after, solicit and bond with the brands they want to, not the ones who stalk them or pretend to be what they are not.

    A lot of brands — Zappos, Mini, BP, American Express — are cracking the relationship code with amazing service in small and big ways. These are the brands that Y&R’s Brand Bubble probably recognizes as having energy and momentum too.

    This is a good topic and one that I’m eager to discuss. I just don’t want to diminish relationship marketing as a pseudo-party to which people were invited. It has challenges in the modern age, sure, but it’s not such a phony one as portrayed.

  62. The article is misleading.

    As you can see in this pic, I don’t own an iPhone http://www.twitpic.com/6x6sy

    :-)

  63. Haha yea I want one of those ‘I’m Kind of a Big Deal on Twitter’ T-shirts too :)

  64. Forget the tee shirts. I want “I’m Kind of a Big Deal on Twitter” on my business cards. :)

  65. Hehehe, I’m seeing a side niche market for Johnny there is selling T-shirts! Something else to add to his business melting pot!

    (and I want a free one for suggesting it, ok Johnny?)

  66. Sorry Melinda, @thegirlpie gets credit for telling me to do that a while back.

    However, if I do one with Donald Duck yelling, “F**K!”, I’ll have to credit Brian Clark.

  67. Frankly I think it should be renamed Retention Marketing or Data Driven Marketing, Relationship is misleading especially on the internet where everyone is all pumped up about social media. I think companies have become to personal in a lot of ways and need to step back and focus more on marketing and less on personal relationships with consumers because although its nice its a distraction at best.

  68. There’s a huge difference between being “Friendly” and being a “Friend”.

    Being “Friendly” is attractive. It’s retentive. People do business with other people whom they know, like and trust.

    Very basic stuff.

    Then there’s the old axiom, “Never mix business with friendship.” Anybody who has ever been down that hell-path before knows exactly why!

    My clients LOVE me because I’m friendly. I deliver great service for which they gladly pay. They return week after week. They tell all their friends about me.

    However, I keep my “Friendliness” at a professional distance. I don’t do dinner. I don’t invite you to my pool party. I have a ‘life’ outside of my business and it does NOT include my clients.

    “You get what you pay for!”

    That’s exactly what my clients get from me… what they pay for is my best service delivered with a warm, friendly smile.

    Then I leave them alone to go out and enjoy their own lives outside of my little ‘business bubble world’.

    Keep it friendly… but by all means, keep it separate! Trust me, you’ll sleep much better at night.

  69. Thank you, Russ. Well said. Friendly = great. Friends = well, this is a family blog. I won’t go there. You kick ass.

  70. Thank you I completely agree, but I have one more bit to add. It is about consistency! Consistency of service, product reliability, shipping costs, store look and feel, etc. Without consistency your customers won’t know what to expect and in the end it will be the dealbreaker for the customer.

  71. Awesome, thought-provoking & interestingly true article!

    I wouldn’t break up with you, you’re honest! LOL

  72. You or Perry Belcher are right. He proclaims the opposite of everything thta you have said in your article. Just so happens that Perry Belcher punched out.

  73. @Steve, there’s a lot of interesting irony in that, isn’t there? I met PB earlier this year. He tells a compelling story, but I couldn’t get a sense for the actual human behind it. I’m not a fan of his approach, but beyond that it’s probably pointless to discuss, since he’s gone.

  74. Sorry to stray away from the topic at hand, but I am currently looking for people in the relationship marketing field. I am studying this career field for a class and would be thankful to anyone in the field that could give me their business information and some personal ideas about the career.

    If anyone is interested, please e-mail me at imbarrett@mail.usi.edu.

    Thanks, Ian

  75. good stuff..

  76. While its true that sometime people focus on relationships too much and forget the marketing – don’t forget – relationship marketing is still about building long term relationships. It is about keeping people around long enough so that you can beg for money until pigs fly – not just once and then have them get sick of you and never talk to you again.

  77. This is one of the better articles about relationship marketing I have read. Good post!

  78. You have a point…Yes, relationship marketing at the end of the day from the perspective of the business owner is to have you buy from him/her on a consistent basis, or at least be the first choice in the consumer’s mind when they want to purchase something. But the purchase is the end result to a bond building process. The consumer buys from you often because you not only have the right product, but also because they feel that you met and surpassed their expectations when they interacted with you. A girlfriend stays with her boyfriend because she thinks he’s the best. Does she think that because he’s perfect? No. It’s because he knows her, understands her and appreciates her in a way that she thinks no other man will, and because he will be there, able to fulfill her needs. Same with business. You may sometimes not even have the right product, but because of the bonding that was built, you are proud to carry the brand. I’ve seen consumers buy an ugly coat over a gorgeous one just because the ugly one said “Ferrari” on it. Let’s face it. Relationship building is still a big deal. The difference is having a GENUINE relationship over a fake one. It’s not about being best buds with your consumer, not at all. That gets in the way many times. It’s about being there for them when they want or need you to be, business-wise, fulfill that need. Then what’s gonna make them choose you first instead of your competitor is the fact that you not only fulfilled their need but you did it in a way nobody else will. There are times when costumers go into a store to buy something and couldn’t care less about being “wow’d”. If they are budget minded, then what they want is a store that offers them cheap stuff. Does Forever 21 have great customer service? Heck no! There’s never an associate when you need one to grab a shirt that’s too high to reach and nobody greets you when you come in, for instance. Clothes are everywhere, too much visual information, very confusing. But their stores are always packed. Why is that? Because their customers have a certain profile that fits the relationship the store is willing to give. They are young, fashion forward, independent shoppers on a budget. They couldn’t care less if the store associate will give them lemon water or wine when they come in. They just want to come in and find good quality clothes on a budget, on their own. So that’s what they get. That’s their relationship with the store: they are left alone when they come in and are given quality products that are cheap in a young, fashion-forward environment. However, Forever 21 started making lower quality clothes now for the same price as before. I’ve already seen a decrease of their frequent shoppers in many of their stores. The main element in their relationship with their consumers is gone. We’ll see how well they’ll keep doing. So relationship with customers does not necessarily mean “suck up to your client” or be best buds, or know everything about your costumer. It means to be sensitive to what makes them feel comfortable around you and nurture that every time.

  79. Naomi Dunford, I would normally agree with you.

    On this post I am totally disagreeing with you. Relationship Marketing is much more than just Marketing, it’s also creating relationships so that you can achieve much more in your business. Like client retention, having trusted relationships, getting referrals and helping people to get what they want.

    It doesn’t mean you need to be best buddies. Let’s break down what Relationships are in your business –

    According to Wiki –
    “Relationship Marketing has continued to evolve and move forward as technology opens more collaborative and social communication channels. This includes tools for managing relationships with customers that goes beyond simple demographic and customer service data”

    it recognizes the long term value of customer relationships and extends communication beyond intrusive advertising and sales promotional messages.

    1. Relationship marketing is not about relationships. It’s about marketing. who says? Obviously you. What kind of relationship are you wanting? No, they are not an intimate one.

    2 Relationship marketing is not about authenticity. – You have to be authentic to retain relationships with your customers otherwise you are failing yourself and the people you want to serve.

    3. Relationship marketing is not about transparency. If you are planning to con your customers, then you are right.

    5. Relationship marketing is not about being social. Read what Wiki defines it is. Maybe you should read Chris Brogans book Trusted Agents.

    Relationship Marketing is about Relationships 1st then the Marketing.