Smarter Marketing Blog

A good relationship is more than a value exchange – people don’t care about your business.

Marketing Relationships

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Is relevancy the currency in a relationship-based economy?

If you have something of value that people want, they will pay you for it. A simple exchange of value. The challenge is to keep them coming back for more.You have heard of terms like, strategic marketing, content marketing, social marketing, integrated marketing, contextual marketing and so on. Can you guess what all these ‘types’ of marketing have in common? Yep, they are all intended to build a customer relationship and thereby make more money for your business.

I ascribe to the notion that in addition to delivering value, if you do so through a positive experience for people, it will build a stronger relationship. Many businesses struggle with that concept, for some reason. Maybe it’s because they get caught up in quantifying costs, which is understandable I guess, in the current unstable economic environment.

As a result, marketers are asked to focus on sales, conversions, acquisitions etc. and, in my opinion, ignore the experiential  element of the value exchange. Invariably, they get distracted by measuring shallow digital relationships such as page likes, followers, G+s etc.

Let’s look at my own simple explanation of marketing. It is communication activity used to connect people with a brand, in the hope that they will buy something. I know this is a simplistic viewpoint because it doesn’t take account of people buying at different times and for different reasons. Still, we cannot get away from the fact that marketing exists to create a connection. That connection may well be a first one, or with an existing customer but without it, there can never be a relationship.

Online relationships.

There’s nothing new here folks. We create and cultivate relationships every single day. We meet a receptionist, the cashier at the supermarket, we laugh with our family, talk with our work colleagues, we tweet, we post updates etc. Of course, they are at different levels of intensity, but they are ‘connections’ none the less.

The thing is that people need value exchanges in different ways i.e. different relationships. When we talk about online relationships, it is obvious that some of them just need information and others want to (or have to) engage with you. Here are a few examples of digital relationships:


  • Annoying – people who get you to follow them and then ‘spam’ you with their posts.
  • Contactless – people who like to use the information / knowledge you provide online, but don’t want to have a conversation.
  • Recognition – people who don’t want a one-to-one relationship but will ‘like’ or ‘follow’ you online.
  • Empowering – people who want to be the leading voice in a conversation you are having.
  • Involved – people who want to build a relationship with you because of the value you provide.


It is the last one above, the involved relationship that is the one businesses will want. Marketers should use various technology platforms to filter the types of relationship they are looking for. At the end of the day, however, you cannot beat the traditional one-to-one communication with the right person at the right time to close the deal. So if you do create a connection online, try to arrange a meeting offline to follow up on the opportunity.

Smarter relationships.

So, if marketing is all about relationships, online or offline, why do many marketers still persist with big generic marketing campaigns?  Even large corporates such as Coca-Cola are attempting to change. Instead of teaching the world to sing they are now personalising their bottles with people’s names. To be fair, customised communication is nigh on impossible to quantify so I can see the marketer’s dilemma. The argument with the CFO will be the difference between short-term and long-term results.

It is a long term play to create a pleasant brand experience that will generate positive attitudes and eventually, more paying customers. One thing is certain though, the businesses that are conscious of this changing paradigm and who adapt, will survive into the future.

Investing in technology is another argument to be had with the CFO. Technology has a large part to play in shaping a customer’s experience. Social media, mobile, big data and augmented reality will allow businesses to enhance customer experience. Needless to say some industries will be more affected than others, but all businesses will have to embrace the new reality. For instance, we already know that mobile is at the heart of how customers are interacting with your brand.

It is almost a cliché now to say that we live in a rapidly changing business environment. Being smart in this environment doesn’t mean having college degrees. In my opinion, it means being a good communicator and networker. Being smarter in these areas also means making your business more flexible and adaptable. Internal relationships are as important as external ones, if a business is to embrace smarter marketing.

In fact, having a strategy and multiple plans these days may well act as a straightjacket on your business. This is because it’s not about coming up with the right answer anymore – it’s about coming up with the right question. The right question is ‘what matters to my customer’? Thereafter businesses should be focused on providing a contextual experience that matches the customer’s expectations.

A downside of businesses adapting to the new ‘context’ of building relationships is that there is a rush to publish stuff, just to be seen to be doing it. Sometimes the need to get content ‘out there’ supersedes the quality that is required to be effective.

The worst scenario is that marketing ‘gurus’ become sales people and the relationship building element is lost. Marketing will always be about compelling content, relevant media, top class production, engaging sales follow up and the creation of outstanding retail experiences.

My point? Be smarter about your marketing.

Marketing isn’t complicated.

Despite the new marketing tools out there, the original marketing principle remains in place. Know your audience and hone your message. Technology is your friend as long as you prioritise the most important aspects for your customer and your business. As mentioned above, a business must be agile nowadays, so don’t over-plan. Keep it simple.

If marketing is about connecting with people, it has been said that there are only three ways you can communicate your marketing message: write to them, talk to them or create a visual (video, picture or graphic). Writing would involve blogs, articles, press releases etc. Talking would include podcasts, seminars or networking events. Once you have decided which method you’re more comfortable with, you then go about choosing your platform.

Tips and Timesavers.

Here are examples of marketing platforms that you may or may not use. The platform should be focused on where the people you want to engage with are, but it’s also important that you don’t spread yourself too wide. Concentrate on a few channels and become proficient in them.


  • Social Media (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+), Blogging, Email Marketing, guest blogging,
  • Radio, Advertising, PR, Leaflets, Run competitions, Enter Awards, Testimonials, Branded vehicles.
  • Cold calling, Networking, Join local associations, Exhibitions, Joint ventures, Business referrals.
  • Set up a website, video marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Localised offers.


There are many other platforms but before I finish, I would like to return to the notion of your online platform. People are going to find you, actively through online search, passively while browsing or through a digital community. If you are not visible to them through any of these online options, you will lose out to competitors that are.

You might well think that you haven’t the time or the budget to undertake smarter marketing. There is a solution to this. You always have the option of employing an external resource (us for instance) to augment your capabilities on an as-needed basis. Partnership with an external resource will allow you to focus on the fundamentals of building a great business in the knowledge that you are being smart about your marketing.

To summarise, here are some of my tips on marketing:


  • Although marketing channels can change– principles don’t.
  • Every business needs a marketing plan – including a plan to listen.
  • Marketing is about selling – good marketing cannot sell a bad product.
  • Your brand identity won’t last forever – make people feel for your brand.
  • A relationship is about being relevant – customers don’t care about your business.


If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K



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