Relationship Based Marketing

This is an updated transcript from a talk I gave at a “Pro Biz” Luncheon in Davis CA On October 18, 2006. I divulge some of the basic foundations of my approach, with a focus on Marketing.  As a graduate with an MS from the UC Davis Community Development department, I would describe my approach as pluralistic, egalitarian and exploratory with particular fondness for Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act-Review Process.  In this case the talk focuses on empowering customers as well as organization members to activate marketing success and sales growth.

Business people, and marketers always want to harness the power of words and media to best advantage, both within the organization and when communicating to the public.  Our fast paced lifestyle and the interference of media and other factors beyond our control create stress and sometimes even blindness, as to the real needs at hand.  When problems can no longer be ignored companies may be forced to change or die, but there are of course subtler examples where the costs of the avoidance of change are impossible to surmise, yet lead to surprising collapse that no one saw coming… or just a long last gasp.   But I’m not here to talk about that today!

What I want to start out with is to define three essential keys to successful marketing that leverage innate human drives and create greater harmony and effectiveness.  Although very important, these fundamental things are sadly overlooked more and more often in today’s rapidly changing business environment.

1.  Be inquisitive and responsive to customer needs.  And how do you do this?  Know your customer.  Don’t be afraid to send out a fact finding survey to answer the key questions you need to know.  Show your respect for customers by being open to hearing their ideas.  Listening breeds respect. Be respectful and a good listener for your customers.  Treat your customers like the special people they are and you become extraordinary.

2.  Diverge from the Ordinary. And how do you do this?  Know thyself.  Every company needs to periodically reassess their position in the market, review quality issues and make decisions about approaches to the future.  This all involves information gathering, due diligence, good communications within the company and between departments.  To diverge from the ordinary, create winning relationships – not just with your customers, but with your employees.  Quality materials to enhance internal efficiencies and comunicaitons are just as important to your internal team as good quality service is to your customers.

3.  Deliver what you promise and more.  Sadly, people are inclined to assume the negative when the option presents itself. Sometimes people say negative things about a company when they don’t really even know it to be true.  We all know word of mouth advertising is powerful, for better or for worse, and we can tip the scales, to encourage postivie spin in the community by taking certain precautions and special actions.

Charity and sponsorships.  Sponsoring a tee ball team is a great way to get your logo on the backs of little kids who’s parents might buy your stuff.

Harness social media and the traditional channels to periodically issue and publish news and updates.  Routine improvements and discoveries easily spin into announce-able events.

Honor employees, both individually and in association with peers and customers.  Customers notice if employees seem happy and engaged in their work.

Find ways to create strategic alliances with others to create a richer, more interactive presence in the market place.

Gather feedback and respond to it promptly and respectfully.

A content rich opt-in email newsletter can go far in supporting customers- with new information, easy ordering, including contact phone for further support.

Basically, people want to feel appreciated and respected.  We all know the emotional and psychological value of being positively acknowledged, but after childhood is passed, the extra effort extended for “feel good” support tends to be overlooked.  We’re all busy grown-ups and its easy to let the little extra niceties slip through the cracks.  But I argue that if we want to exel in business and in life, that’s not an option.

Go that extra mile for your customers and they will do the same for you.  Longevity in business is built on solid relationships and these you develop the old fashioned way: you earn them.

I like to focus on the structure of Quality that makes good relationships.  Each of us is a community developer by default, a force for change and growth whether we know it or not.  We can work together to raise the Quality bar, and one component of that broader vision is Relationship based Marketing.

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