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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Understanding the Defining Points to Relationship Builidng

Vector image of two human figures with hands i...Image via WikipediaToday's Ultimate Blog Challenge asks us: "What is something that many people assume about your business, industry, geographical area, family/heritage, or religion?"

As a marketing and business development consultant, I am often struck how a company, a campaign or even an individual misunderstands the value of relationship building to their end goals and mission.  To the hedge fund manager, it sounds too touchy-feely, the small business owner wants to follow a set procedure that will automatically lead to sales or gain clients and politicians think people will trust them because they say so in a speech or written on their website...They all ASSUME  that the relationship begins with them and their service/product/message.  And they ASSUME once they present their service/product/message the relationship is built.  To understand better, let's approach the two words separately:

  1. Relationship
            Webster's Dictionary definition includes three sections: the state of being related or interrelateda specific instance or type of kinship; or a romantic or passionate attachment.

  • Are you related or interrelated to your customer/voter just because you think you have what they need?  (For example, the client needs a clean carpet and you offer carpet cleaning services) The simple answer is yes, you and about two thousand other carpet cleaning services in town are related/interrelated with your customer to this degree. 

  • Does your carpet cleaning services bring a specific instance or kinship to the customer, say, you use only safe, organic products and the end user is concerned with bringing dangerous chemicals into their homes?  To establish this more defined kinship, your message must be clear and concise and you must be truthful in your message.  You must also back up your claims in simple, easy-to-understand research.  While most of us have schooling beyond the 6th grade, you should be able to explain your products/message at this level for all to really comprehend your message.

  • This last part of the definition is what quality marketing and advertising is all about.  Without the heart,  the sizzle, there is no real reason for the customer to pick up the phone and ask for your company's service.  Your message is, WE are going to get your carpets cleaned using products that will keep your family healthy....and WE are going to do this wonderful thing TOGETHER because we both care deeply about this sentiment.  Without passion, you are relying on luck that the customer found you first on the internet or some other way.
So, you can create a relationship by presenting a format that is easy to understand by a 6th grader and then you must show why you are passionate about that format.  Good first step!  At this point, many of my clients, say, "What, there is more we have to do?"  Which brings us to the second word:


            Using Webster's 'Student Dictionary' definition of this verb, there are two parts:to produce or create gradually; to move or grow toward a peak.

  • To a action word, and that is exactly what this new and/or improved business relationship needs.  ACTION.  The first part of the definition calls for a gradual motion.  It's funny, because this is the point where several clients like to joke with me saying that perhaps I am just looking for job security here.  But the notion of building a relationship gradually has nothing to do with my monthly retainer fee!  Human beings are more comfortable with ideas when they are presented in a comfortable, relaxing a gradual manner.  We do not like to have something or someone slammed down our throat.  A very good relationship can be destroyed or damaged when the actions are pushed on us in a hastened pace.  This is the delicate part to the creation of a strong business relationship.  And it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the customer/voter/end user.  I always suggest to my clients to get into their customers shoes and feel what its like "from over there".  My example here is from a politician I have high regard for and yet, I can see clearly the mistakes he is making while building new relationships with potential voters.  Mr. Cain has developed a bold plan to improve the economy, and you've probably heard it 1000 times already, because it has a catchy title...his 9-9-9 tax plan.  And as far as I can tell, it could be a fantastic way to increase jobs and grow this economy.  But our relationship with Mr. Cain and his 9-9-9 plan are very new.  Unfortunately, our political system rarely allows anything to unfold gradually, but Herman needs to stay focused on this approach.  Last night in the debate, he told the public to just go to his website and do the math!  Well, I did, and here's how it explained the 9% National Sales Tax which is the part everyone seems to be most concerned about:
    Unlike a state sales tax, which is an add-on tax that increases the price of goods and services, this is a replacement tax. It replaces taxes that are already embedded in selling prices. By replacing higher marginal rates in the production process with lower marginal rates, marginal production costs actually decline, which will lead to prices being the same or lower, not higher.
    These are not words or a math equation a 6th grader can understand!. Most of his audience are not mathematicians like he is.  Mr. Cain has forgotten that he needs to gradually build this relationship with the clear understanding of who his constituency includes and to teach us gradually about the system and why it will be good for us.  

  • This gradual movement also needs to be moving up...forward...with the end goal of reaching a peak, as it is defined.  To the business client, the peak is often defined as a specific sales goal, such as $10,000 new business with this new relationship.  Or maybe it's a following of 500 Facebook fans or Twitter followers who will continually learn about a business' services or products.  To a politician, it is getting enough votes to win an election or to have a certain agenda passed.  Well, in order to continually move in an upwards direction, you must change it up.  What do I mean by that?  We are a restless nation, with very short attention spans.  We like to be a crazy pace.  So, our message, our format, our supporting marketing and advertising efforts must continue to evolve.  I know, I know, my job security thing again.  But speaking to you seriously, a company must embrace change if they want to reach the peak in today's environment.    
The best advise I can give is to ASSUME  the customer/voter/end user will need continual, easy to understand, exciting information before they will become passionate enough to have a true, long-lasting relationship with you!  

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