I’m an online matchmaker. As a business strategist, I help align consumer desires with eligible brands. It’s a unique perspective, causing me to understand the needs of both the courtier and the courted. In the past six years, I’ve observed many brand/consumer relationships. I took/take notice. It’s my sworn duty as a matchmaker.
“…but as all is mortal in nature, so is all nature in love mortal in folly.” – William Shakespeare
As a matchmaker, I must understand the logistics of relations… I’ve noticed the dynamics of marketing courtships and wear the following on my post’s sleeve.
“Yes indeed, all I really need is…” – The Rascals
I fell in love some time ago… It was wonderful to be under the assumption of particular sounded intentions. It took me a while to pinpoint the disparity between what was said and what was done. Yet, when kissed by the epiphany, it was clear that my lover’s intentions were not favorable to me.
I’m going to ask you a very simple question. We can tango, tiptoe, waltz around the answer if you’d like; yet, it’s a straightforward inquiry. What are your intentions regarding your consumers? Are they dollar symbols? Or, do you truly believe in your brand, its offerings, and yourself, and have something of value to offer? I’m savvy in the language of love; you’ll likely tell me what I want to hear so badly…
(Looks coy, curling his locks) I know none of you would try to ‘get one’ by me…or your consumers. Some of you are doing it presently. Your brand is a time bomb of disappointment and doomed relations. Good intent delivers on the promise of quality, as if the brand wanted to make the world a better place in some shape or form. Bad intent involves greed, laziness, fear, anxiety and other emotions, which propel brands to make selfish decisions.
I know brands operate to make money; but, that truth is in no way a license to create a stark contrast in exchanged value. You’re not in business to take money; you’re in business to provide value in exchange for it. If you’re not (and YOU.KNOW.WHO.YOU.ARE.) in business to provide value, please leave now or forever hold your peace. We see you, scumbags; you may not have to close shop today; but, eventually, consumers will see you too. Don’t say I didn’t…
When I taught, I issued Pensabene’s bookends. It wasn’t a legally binding contract, yet it held great intrinsic value. It was an abiding, two-way promise. I would commit to teaching my students. They would commit in being good students.
It was a way for them to get to know me and what to expect. I had each student sign along with a guardian. That way everyone was on the same page as to my intentions and expectations. Do you layout intentions and expectations for your consumers? Intention is monumentally important.
“It is the spring time of my lovin…” – Led Zeppelin
People, places, and things can seem very charming at first, especially if it’s a novel experience. I would like to call the initial ‘puppy love’ the honeymoon phase. It’s a time of innocence… a time of confidences… If you’re going to become acquainted like old friends with consumers, you must sustain the charm past the honeymoon phase.
The honeymoon phase is expected; but will the warm fuzzies last? Consumers enjoy the initial courtship yet aren’t completely ‘engaged’ to your brand as of yet.
Joel Klettke recently wrote a wonderful piece on Gonzo SEO about taking your client out from under your arm. You don’t think he’s charming enough? Aside from being the best-looking man in the world, Joel makes some very convincing arguments. First of all, I have observed brands making all the mistakes mentioned in Joel’s post. Additionally, all the things mentioned take place after the honeymoon phase, after the consumer has already breached your ‘web.’ Do you think the eyes of consumers don’t wander? You don’t think they’re thinking, “What have you done for me lately?” Think again.
Are you providing ‘great customer service’? Great. That’s not novel; that’s nothing new; you’re not deserved of a trophy; it’s called running a reputable business. What is your business doing to convey those lasting sentiments of warm fuzzies? Going above and beyond the honeymoon phase gets you on your way to exceptional. Otherwise, you’re only doing as expected…
“Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.” – Albert Einstein
“We can’t go on together with suspicious minds…” – Elvis
After the honeymoon phase, the butterflies flee the stomach and the heels revert back under the head. A reality sets in. This could be after spending some time with your product or some days/weeks into the service agreement. At this point, regardless of what was said, of what was talked about, the consumer can observe whether the talking evolved to walking action.
The original commitment hinges on the promise of the original intent to create value. Your job as a brand is not done. You must preserve the value. Otherwise, eyes begin to wander and minds begin to wonder…”Am I settling in this relationship? Can I do better?”
I’m never involved in the production phase of marketing clients; that’s the brand’s job. I’m the matchmaker. Many services and products are highly similar…in function, provision, price, etc. So, I ask you, what is special about your brand? Why should consumers be faithful to your brand? Why shouldn’t consumers be checking out other brands? (Seriously, write down what you think; then ask yourself if your consumers’ lists would shadow yours.)
At this point, you must make consumers realize the extended value in their relationship with your brand. Realize you must make the most of your time with them. That means the longer they pledge allegiance, the more reasons they should have for doing so in the future… Does it sound like work? Relations warrant care and attention. Otherwise, the courted grow suspicious minds.
Read how Dan Shure engages clients, peers, and people. “…everything I do is genuine… there is no trickery involved… and I never try to “get” things from others.” I highly doubt Dan’s intentions and ongoing relations are doubted.
But as Dan mentioned in a previous post on character, it’s not just about what’s said, the physical follow-up makes the lasting impression.
“…you’re absolutely right, character is very important to me, and not only that, about Mike coming back uptown to see me from downtown – it’s what he DID that aligned with what he SAID. And this alignment of “talk” and “walk” means everything when building character. Something I still honestly work on all the time, basically since I tend to be overly optimistic, and mean the best, but have to be careful to not over-promise and try to be more “realistic” in my thinking.”
Through the Grapevine
“Don’t you know that…I heard it through the grapevine.” – Marvin Gaye
Let’s face it; rarely is there a stable, baseline to relations. Relationships are charged with emotion, steering hearts and minds to and fro one another. Such is the dynamic of relations with customers. People like discussing relations. A third-party offers an outside perspective, which is always good to have. Many consumers openly discuss relations with their friends, family members, peers, the guy next to them at Starbucks, etc.
Consumers do the same regarding relations with brands. If I’m interested in a brand, who am I going to address with inquisitions at first, the brand or someone I know that had relations with the brand? You better believe I’m going with the latter option. I don’t think I’m alone.
The grapevine has always existed; social media has made it more robust. Things can go up or down; the choice is yours. Even a negative brand/consumer interaction is an opportunity to strengthen the bond. When you have a disagreement, you can alienate the other person, turning your back on the awkwardness of the situation; or, you can bring them closer into your world by making things right, making them understand you care to do so.
Be mindful of the grapevine. Its information is contingent on how you treat your consumers. Happy consumers can be powerful marketing tools; they can also be horrible impediments; but, you have the power to shape the relationship.
if you happen to be seeing this tweet I want to say
#ThankYou I am convinced people are confused by how amazing it is to have some1 follow U
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” – The Beatles
Such is one of my favorite sentiments of all time. The synergy of relations makes them go round. I believe what you get out of something is inextricably proportionate to what you put in. Some readers may believe such meditation on consumer relations is not warranted due to their sales cycle, product type, target market, industry norms, etc. Maybe I’m just a marketer, using a bleeding heart to ink his page; but, I highly celebrate the notion of minding people relations at all times. You CAN make a BIG difference in the perception of your brand.
@chriscountey Glad to know there are awesome, helpful people like you in the world. Thanks again Chris!
No gesture is too small. I was once enlisted in a ‘surf t-shirt’ of the month club. I didn’t get t-shirt one month and called the owner…In short, I was sent a bunch of t-shirts to compensate for the one missed. What was really awesome was the penned letter sent by the owner expressing his sadness in my initial disappointment; and, though he recognized the mistake was done, he hoped his proceeding actions made things ‘right’ with me in the end. They did; and, the sentiment of that letter, which took maybe minutes to write, stays with me over ten years later. In the end, sometimes it’s the little windows of opportunity that people look back on. Those small moments of character resonate with others.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
Would you rather orchestrate your love tunnel in a lateral fashion, where there is a definitive end in mind’s sight from the beginning? Or, would you rather build a cyclical love tunnel for consumers, consisting of an evolving series of positive interactions?
Thanks for reading – Anthony Pensabene