Posted tagged ‘relationship’

The Marketing Rules are (Still) Changing

March 6, 2009

tre-coverAs the world has witnessed the collapse of billion dollar companies such as AIG and Merryl Lynch, some of us stood by and were only able to watch in horror as if we were watching the Titanic sinking after hitting the iceberg. “It can never sink. It’s just too big,” they said. One can almost hear the naysayers scoffing at anyone who predicted such a catastrophic failure as what happened on Wall Street. “No, the banks can never fail. The government won’t let that happen.”

Look where it [our confidence] got us. Over the past two or three years, we have taken special notice to some blogs, names and phrases, such as, “Relationship Capital.”

The Relationship Economy is a system in which we are worth who we know and what we know. For example, I personally have just over 2,400 so-called “friends” on the online social network known as Facebook. A year ago, I had exactly 67 “friends” on that same network. Realizing that the shift from a goods-based/knowledge-based economy to a relationship-based economy, I started adding “friends” like crazy. Today, with my 2,400 + “friends,” I am more valuable than I was on March 5, 2008.

I’ve made connections to people all over the world, most of whom I will never meet or even speak to on the phone. And while I would say many will prove to be fruitless, I have made some really good connections to people in some very high places with companies such as Dell, IBM, Apple, HP, and, my favorite, Comcast.

The marketing has changed in the past six months. People are coming to the realization that the social networks are becoming more vital to businesses rather than just a fad. People are watching television online, listening to the radio online, getting their news online, and companies are capitalizing on the world’s ability to connect online.

So what’s my point?

With people spending so much time online and our ability to remain connected to the world, via Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and RSS feeds, the marketing has changed locations and forums, but the message is still the same: “LOOK AT HOW GREAT MY PRODUCT IS!”

That’s where the marketing guys come up short. Rather than talking to us, they need to be talking with us. Finding out what it is we need. What we want a product to give us, etc.

In The Cluetrain Manifesto, written by Doc Searls et. al., says that marketes are conversations. It does little to aid your bottom-line if you are speaking in a language none of your customers can understand. Therefore, the relationship isn’t there.

Now, some companies have adapted their marketing to The Relationship Economy, but the big-boys–the banks, the insurance companies, etc.– have not. That’s why they collapsed in ’08.

Companies have forgotten that they aren’t all about million dollar homes and large offices with gold trash cans. When a person is made to feel important, that is when you will develop consumer pride and brand loyalty. But when a service call is not kept, the call is dropped, or the company doesn’t seem to care about YOU, the consumer, that is when the walls they have built all around them start to crumble.

The move toward the relationship economy is coming, and I think it may catch many big companies unaware.

How ’bout it?

Lowe’s Home Improvement Doesn’t “Get it!”

May 23, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, we went out to Lowe’s to purchase a wrought-iron patio table and four matching chairs. I had stayed outside at the car while my wife went into the store to check out the selection. After a few minutes, I went in to find her. I started walking down the main isle of the store, and then asked an associate who worked there where the patio furniture was.

“Back there,” he said, pointing in the direction from which he had come. That was it. Nothing else. Sure it was easy enough to find, but I was about to be a PAYING CUSTOMER! As I found my wife, she told me that she had already been helped, and the guy wasn’t too happy about it. “Oh, yeah, I must have just passed him,” I said and began to relate the story to her of the events which had just taken place.

He brought the table and chairs out to us from the back, and then disappeared. Were we supposed to proceed to the check out pushing the flatbed cart, or would he come back to take care of us the way we expected?

As we stood there making snide remarks to one another, I began to plan my next blog entry and considered speaking to the manager. The associate finally returned and wheeled the cart to the register for us to pay. Once there, he turned and said, “If you need help loading this, there’s a guy out in the parking lot wearing a straw hat. He’ll help you.” And with that he returned to the hidden recesses of the store — where those pesky customers couldn’t harass him!

So, I paid for our items and then headed out the door to find the “guy with a straw hat.” After two or three minutes of standing there waiting with my Honda CRV right next to the cart, he finally strolled across the parking lot and toward me.

“The guy inside said that you’d help us load this in our car,” I said to him.

“Yeah,” he replied and continued to walk inside the store. By this time, I was really starting to lose my patience.

When he again emerged, I again asked him to help me load the furniture in our car. “You want to put it in there??” he asked incredulously.

“We can tie the table on the roof, if you have some twine or rope,” I suggested. And what happened next was what really sent me over.

“We do have twine on that cart over there,” he said, pointing to a wheeled cart with a box of twine on it. And I waited for him to volunteer to get it. But by this time, my wife was ready to leave, and said, “Mark, you just go get it.” So I did, complaining verbally the whole way there and back to the car.

We finally crammed the four chairs into the front seat and got the table tied onto the roof of the car. I managed to cram myself into the child booster seat in the back, on top of two 40-pound bags of top soil. It was quite a sight.

The ride home, I considered that the associates at places like Wal-Mart and Lowe’s really need to get back into the business of SERVING THE CUSTOMER, not just putting time in to get a paycheck. Maybe they should read The Emergence of The Relationship Economy!

How ’bout it?

The Communications Factors: Do It Better!

October 9, 2007

Just like with anything else, managing the Communications Factors improves with time and practice. The same way a child who’s played soccer for a couple of seasons is better than the first timer, the more we employ the Communications Factors, the better we are at getting our message to the intended audience with little or no distraction or interference.

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In the Relationship Economy, communicating with others requires a good amount of time and skill. If you deny this fact, just take a look at some of the meaningless, trivial blogs which are usually – but not always – written by teens. “Just stopping by to say hi,” seems to be a common post to many MySpace pages. Blogger Deborah Schultz said in her July 10th post this year, “Relationships take work.  We all know this and yet we take shortcuts,  in our personal and professional lives.” Yes, relationships do take work. Think about friendships among children. When two kids approximately the same age spend a half hour playing and really enjoying themselves, they each have made a “new best friend.” However, later that week, one child cannot even remember the other’s name. It’s all about the relationship.

The relationships of the physical world are becoming more and more virtual. And the most effective ways to build those relationships is to communicate, via technology, with others in the on-line world.

By engaging the technologies of communications (i.e. practice), we learn to improve the transference of information. The more time we spend using those emerging technologies, the better we become at maintaining those relationships which really matter most to us. As it is said, “Practice makes perfect!”

The more you do anything, whether it’s posting to a blog, establishing yourself as an expert or producing a podcast, the more you do it, the better will will get.

The technologies provide us ways with which we can communicate; how and whether we use the technology is completely up to us.

How ’bout it?