Develop a relationship. Don’t propose on the first date. Relationships take time.
You talk about relationships as a marketer. You use the same words and clichés. However, you don’t really mean a relationship.
You won’t take a walk in the park with me because we enjoy spending time together and share what we did today just because we want each other to know.
What do businesses really mean when they talk about relationships and what is marketing’s place in those relationships with clients, prospects and the marketplace at large?
Business Relationships that Matter
In the vast majority of enterprise B2B companies, relationships that matter are between people. This is why sales people with existing relationships are recruited and account managers work to develop personal relationships with clients.
Marketing Isn’t About Relationships
Marketing is tasked with reaching the masses, even when the masses are just your 500 customers in the niche market you serve.
Here are three reasons marketing cannot be focused on developing relationships with these people:
- Marketing will need to transfer the relationship to sales or account teams. Rather than create opportunities, this creates disruption.
- There are far too many people for marketing to develop meaningful relationships.
- Marketing is predominantly one-way communication. Outside of social networks, the only dialogue back is a click. That click may be important, but calling it a conversation is an insult to the person with their hand on the mouse.
Marketing’s Real Role In Business Relationships
Marketing doesn’t create relationships, but marketing does have an important role. Focusing on how marketing contributes will position your company to have more meaningful and productive relationships with customers.
Without someone’s attention, your business cannot develop a relationship. Marketing’s first stepping stone is getting attention, using advertising, content marketing or any other tools at their disposal.
Identify Potential Prospects
Sales is the first stop for relationship building in many organizations, but who should sales focus on? Marketing needs to identify potential prospects that are likely receptive to speaking with sales and beginning to develop a relationship.
Activities ranging from inbound marketing to lead scoring and distribution are critical for marketers to master here.
Support Relationship Building
Marketing can provide the materials (often in various forms of content) that supports sales conversations and the ongoing communications streams that keep your sales and account teams in front of people.
When someone picks up the phone to actually have a conversation in response to any of the material marketing has provided, the conversation is not with marketing and the relationships that develop are not with marketing.
The business relationships you need to develop are not relationships with marketing. Marketing must play a supporting, not a leading, role in the development of successful business relationships.
What is your view, has relationship become a thin buzzword in marketing, or do you believe marketing should be the primary point in a company’s relationship with customers and prospects?
Share your perspective in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).