The era of Relationship Marketing. It’s about the human element.

by Tony Fannin, CEO/Partner, BE Branded  |

The era of Relationship Marketing has begun. What do I mean by that? One of the earlier era was product focused. In the late 40s through the 50s, it was all about the product and it’s features and benefits. From the late 60s to about two years ago, was the Consumer era. This was when we found out what people wanted through research. Offer it. Create marketing around the target audience. Place the ads in the media that is favored by your target consumer.

Today it’s different. It is about relationships and real emotions. People don’t buy Apple. They love Apple. People don’t avoid Exxon Mobil. They hate Exxon Mobil. And people don’t use AT&T. They tolerate AT&T. You see, people, on their own volition are using words such as love, hate, tolerate, adore. Technology has changed the marketing game, but not in the way you may think. Often, too much attention has been paid to the technology itself. Technology alone is no different than radio, TV, VCR, CDs, etc. The way technology has changed the game is now people can, and do, announce to the world their feelings about your brand. They will declare their love and admiration or their hate and scorn. This is why marketing needs to change accordingly.

One note about technology, it is a paradox. On one hand, it has taken the power available to only a few and distributed to the Many. On the other hand, by giving them this power, it has obliterated anybody’s capacity to reach the Many in one fell swoop. This paradox has contributed to the shift to Relationships instead of “mass consumers”.

Relationship Marketing is a brand is being evaluated 24/7 and on different criteria. It is way beyond features and benefits. You don’t fall in love with the technical aspects of a product or service. You fall in love with a brand because of how it makes your feel and the trust you give it. Just as in human relationships, there are brands you hold dear and brands you could care less about. The advent of social media has turned word of mouth from a candle lighting another candle into a candle starting a forest fire. Another element in Relationship Marketing is core values. Before, what a company truly believes in didn’t make a difference. Today, it means a lot. A brand can have a great product, but because of what it’s core beliefs are, can destroy the relationship and their dollars. For example, the undercurrent that DeBeers is battling when it comes to “blood diamonds”. People care about where and how the diamonds they are about to purchase arrive to them.

Relationship Marketing is not adding them as “friends” and then trying to pitch them about a discount or coupon. That’s like inviting friends over to dinner and then suckering them into an Amway pitch. You are not a friend. Relationship Marketing is to communicate GENUINE purpose and core values. Here is how Patagonia defines their purpose for being: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Yes, they genuinely do believe in this cause and that is why their customers feel a deep relationship with the brand.

In essence, it is the human element and that is something that no digital tool or piece of technology can duplicate. It can help gather, but it can’t replace the genuine feeling of love, hate, adore, or indifference. If you get this right, congratulations, people care deeply about you.

www.bebranded.net
317-797-7226

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About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

2 Responses to “The era of Relationship Marketing. It’s about the human element.”

  1. Reblogged this on Brand Perspectives and commented:
    I think Tony Fannin, CEO/Partner at BE Branded has done a brilliant job with this article at articulating the importance of the emotional connection that strong brands have with their customers. It isn’t the functional benefits. Those are expected. And, it isn’t the technology. That’s an enabler.

    Brands must be authentic and effective at conveying their “genuine purpose and core values” as he has stated. Patagonia is cited as an excellent example.

    Unfortunately, I think many companies have lost their way these days. Take Eastman Kodak for example. They were so focused on preserving their lucrative “cash cow” film business that they forgot their deeper purpose: “to preserve memories.” They lost touch with their customer needs. They lost the emotional connection they had with their customers. They failed to capitalize on the next great wave created by digital technology.

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