Every minute of every day, brands are surrounded by opportunities to forge long-lasting relationships with their customers. To start deeper, more authentic relationships. Instead, most of these moments are lost to an approach that regards customers more as transactions than as people.
Like paying ESPN to have host Colin Cowherd read a supposedly personal but oh-so-trite script:
Need flowers for [insert holiday here], then log on to proflowers.com, you’ll get a stunning bouquet of [insert type of flower] – mention my name and receive [insert deal here]. That’s proflowers.com. Or send ’em on a [insert day of week] morning, see how she reacts [insert day of week] night! Go to proflowers.com, enter my name: Colin, that’s C-O-L-I-N.
That’s just one example of a multitude of similar tactics used to spike sales without any thought to building a relationship. But make no mistake, it’s a short-sighted approach if not part of a larger, more sustaining strategy. The Kool-Aid you’re selling is a temporary fix at best, used to prop up the next quarter’s numbers. The consumer gets a pleasant drink, but is left with a bond that’s as fleeting as the energy from all that sugar. To keep sales going without a proper customer relationship, you’ll have to work harder and harder, every quarter, to fool them once again into buying your empty calories. It’s a vicious, unhealthy pattern played out by the big boys who have the resources to survive their own errors.
And yet, small and mid-sized companies follow suit. What’s good for Big Company must be good for me too. Right? Wrong. People are biologically and emotionally driven to be in long-term relationships, even when they’re not good at it. Larry King popping the question seven times seems proof enough of that (dude, just stop).
Smaller companies can’t afford to market like big companies. They simply don’t have the resources to get away with these type of mistakes. Their brand’s ego can’t afford these type of mistakes. The company check book can’t afford these type of mistakes. In today’s market, if David mimics Goliath, he gets pummeled. Another human-shaped indentation on the earth, squashed like a bug.
But there are ways for David to win. And win big. Specific strategies for brand challengers exist. And they’re all about leveraging your core strengths. For example, that behemoth you’re trying to emulate can’t turn on a dime. And for sure, they can’t as easily build an honest to goodness relationship as quickly or as powerfully as you because you’re closer to your customer. Those are strengths that don’t require massive resources to utilize. Just your will to be authentic.
Remember, you’re not a company. You don’t want transactions.
You’re a person. You want other people to join your tribe…for the rest of their lives. So get in touch with your small self, the one that seeks relationships over dollars. And ironically, you’ll grow into one of the big boys.