We got away from it for a while. By “we,” I don’t mean Relationship Martech, or our industry or even our generation – I mean the whole planet got away from relationship marketing for many years. Those years were known as the Industrial Revolution. Before that, all transactions were based on relationships, going all the way back to the Dawn of Marketing, in fact. By working strictly on a referral basis, consumers got, not just a product, but a relationship with the merchant.
But they didn’t have a lot to choose from. That’s why that Industrial Revolution became so poular: lower prices, wider selection and, eventually, globalization. Sometimes called the Product Marketing Era, its marketing was based, not on relationships, but on features and benefits. Products, like appliances for example, captured global market share by having a smarter feature set than their competitors' on the assumption that the end-users were essentially the same.
Then “smart marketers began to question this approach,” according to Responsys President Scott Olrich. “Why…were we marketing to similarities? Why not differences?”
To market to differences, mail-order catalogs like LL Bean started to segment their mailing lists, ushering in the (re)birth of Relationship Marketing. Mail-order segmentation was followed by databases linked to email, cable television, Internet searches, social media and other increasingly sophisticated marketing tools designed to match different market targets to organizations’ differentiators. These tools have now refined niche markets into highly personalized groups – allowing individual, or 1:1 (personalized) marketing campaigns.
At the same time, many of these software tools have also given consumers the power to speak out about how the products and services work or don’t work. This two-way street has enabled us to reach Relationship Marketing 2.0.
According to consultant Vignesh Subramanyan, that’s the point at which “personal recommendations are the primary driver of consumer purchase decisions at every stage of the purchase lifecycle, for the majority of product categories and industries.” Hence, we’ve now come full circle back to true Relationship Marketing for companies, associations and even governments.
But how can you have true relationships on a global scale? By automating the basic processes and freeing up humans to go deeper with your customers and prospects.
(Image Credit: Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash)
Speaker & Trainer
Knebl Communications, LLC
Colorado Springs Country Club
Colorado Springs CO
Kevin Knebl (@kevinknebl) built on his lunch presentation with a very generous, complimentary 2.5-hour boot camp to go deeper into his social selling strategy. He started with the sales philosophy that propelled him to become the top salesman at four companies in four different industries: sales is about relationship building, even though so many people "make communicating with them like jumping through hoops of fire."
But, Kevin continued, assuming your are good at what you do, if you make yourself accessible, you will have a distinct advantage getting people to know, like and trust you. The "personal interaction" bar online is set "so unbelievably low," just using basic manners your Mom taught gives you a distinct edge in the marketplace.
If a non-threatening person stopped you on the street, you would stop and have a short, friendly conversation, but many tend to forget fundamental manners online and act too busy. This gives you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Kevin provided LinkedIn tips:
-- Max out the 120 characters available in the headline; don't just stop with your basic title, for example, of "Financial Advisor," but list it followed by how you help your particular niche.
-- If you want extra room, create your header on the LinkedIn mobile app which, due to an apparently undocumented bug, allows an additional 102 characters for a total of 222.
-- Copy and paste into your Profile icons like asterisks for additional formatting options.
-- Add all of your contact information.
-- Add your Profile to your email footer.
-- Maximize the 2000 characters available in your summary, and write in the first person to make it relational, not a biography.
-- Add video, including impromptu videos of yourself and your fans talking about you.
-- Get your fans to write LinkedIn Recommendations for you to create credibility.
-- Add white papers, Powerpoint presentations and other media up to the platform's cap of 15 files.
-- To whatever degree you're comfortable, be an open book so that Profile visitors will be more likely to know, like and trust you.
-- Customize your invitations using pre-written templates that enable cutting, pasting and small modifications based on the contact.
-- Use pre-written templates, too, for responses and other Connection messages.
-- Upgrade to LinkedIn Premium only if you have success and experience using the free platform and are willing to commit to using the advanced features.
-- Accept all Connection Invitations unless you believe they somehow threaten your income (rarely the case). Identify their Twitter handle and connect on Twitter at the same time and send a template-based welcome message.
How many Connections should you have? LinkedIn limits them to 30,000, but, if you email a request, they will expand your cap to an additional 2500-3000! You may not need 33,000, but Kevin maintains 28,000 and says that it is important to remember that LinkedIn is a database that allows users to search and find specific information on demand. Therefore, if you're in business, having more connections is better than having fewer connections.
Sometimes people have the misconception that connecting with too many people will require management of too much information. This is a flawed assumption, just like assuming that accepting a telephone book in the 1980s would require dialing all of the telephone numbers listed. LinkedIn manages the information for you -- just treat like a Rolodex (database) to select what you need.
If you're already good at what you, instead of spending 95% of your time improving the skills you use within your profession and 5% of your time building relationships, spend 5% of your time improving your professional skills and 95% of your time becoming a relationship black belt, using these techniques.
Then Kevin brings the point home. He rejects the title of guru, because there are actually many technical aspects about social platforms that he doesn't understand or care about. He cares about relationships. He describes himself as an excellent "relationship" driver who doesn't need to to know how to fix the transmission. Instead, he says to focus on principals that never change, not technology, an ever-moving target.
You can't control technology or even how recipients will react to your messages. But you can use their responses, or lack thereof, as a filtering system, enabling unfit prospects to self-select out of your system if they don't have a positive reaction to your friendly overtures. If someone doesn't react positively to a genuinely "friendly, non-creepy" message, you probably don't want to work with them anyway.
Speaking of what you can control, Kevin says it boils down to only two things: you can only control your work ethic and your attitude. If LinkedIn went away tomorrow, the principles of relationship-based sales would still hold true, and be just as applicable, like the constant of gravity: take a genuine interest in others and sales will eventually come to you. LinkedIn and social media just make it easier to connect with many more prospects than would otherwise be available.
He insists you can build your profile to the heights described in only 15 minutes a day, once you understand the techniques and form a consistent habit. He adds that "every system is designed perfectly for the results it achieves," to underscore the importance of good habits.
Kevin demonstrated searching for prospects on LinkedIn and then narrowing the search results by interest. Because his network is robust, he is able to generate many potential leads and connect to them with a well crafted email that offers help in the form of referrals and ties into a mutual interest from the prospect’s Profile, using tactics he learned years ago from two relationship marketing experts: Dale Carnegie who wrote How to Win Friends & Influence People and Harvey Mackay who wrote Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate, and Outnegotiate Your Competition.
Even when he doesn’t get an immediate response, he can put the lead into his simple but very effective high-tech, high-touch contact management system which can be set up online or on paper that establishes contacts via quick social media interchanges, greeting cards and telephone calls. Kevin adds that in our connected world, old-school methods like mailed cards work better than ever.
He uses his simple lead generation system to work with 30-75 prospects whom he prioritizes as A Contacts of 10 - 25 people who get touches monthly), B Contacts (of 10 - 25 people who get touches every two months) and C Contacts (of 10 - 25 people who get touches every three months). He adds that if he needed a bigger pipeline, say if he were building a new business, he might expand it to 100-300 people, and that each person will find the right balance as they use the system.
Drop-in Visit(if possible)
Each touch is fast, about 60 seconds. He even tells telephone recipients and prospects that he's visiting that he only has a minute and keeps to his word. This way, keeping up with all A, B and C contacts takes only a few minutes each day. He also never mentions his product or service unless the recipient brings it up. This way, he can be sure that the recipient is more interested in discussing it than he is.
This goes against the training we all have that tells us to "seize upon the prospect like a pit bull," but that's the traditional marketing that offends so many, why newsletters are too often thinly veiled sales pitches and why a quick voicemail with no sales pitch that shows genuine interest are so rare. "Most people are running around at Mach 5 going broke, instead of slowing down and taking a genunine interest in people, which, ironically, would get them rich."
In a more interconnected world, it’s more important than ever to know that you’re in the relationship business. LinkedIn is a great tool to develop relationships that you can nurture. If you carefully nurture enough relationships, you will never struggle in business. Kevin offers more training on his website and invited the audience to connect with him through his social channels any time.
I remember when marketing departments were a team of media buyers and designers; now it’s much more about data science and automation. I’ve played a small part in that transition, starting in 1987 when I brought desktop publishing to local advertising in Maine. After my first web project in 1993, I managed some of the earliest banner ad and search marketing campaigns, co-founded 2 dot-coms, helped the State of Maryland fight spam, developed social media strategies for clients like Celestial Seasonings and launched one of the first apps on Capitol Hill.
By that time, we all had begun to broadcast personal data about our identities, preferences and whereabouts continually from our pockets, thanks to smart phones. Privacy advocates were alarmed, but billions accessed the increasingly relevant information anyway.
Privacy is important, but relevance is essential: the best and only defense against our very serious 21st century problem of information overload. The novelty of 500 million search results at a time had finally worn off, and relevance had always been my battle cry in my decades-old personal vendetta against spam and junk mail.
At the turn of the last century, the average American encountered about 12 marketing messages a day. Now it’s well over a thousand, so relevant information is more important than ever, and a global economy demands that information processing be automated.
I learned about bots in 2016 when interviewing a guest on my radio show, The Marketing GPS Challenge Hour and became more interested in marketing automation. Soon, martech (short for “marketing technology”--my field finally got a name) was what I was building, speaking and evangelizing on as I found technologies to harness relevant, actionable information from the every-rising tide of data.
The purpose of all of this is to deepen relationships. Wait, am I about to use “computers” and “relationships” in the same sentence? Yes, computers, the great information sorters, are best at sifting through data. If we get computers to do a better job handling the excess and the mundane, humans become more freed up to address what’s meaningful, and it’s what’s meaningful--things you actually care about--that builds relationships.
In fact, marketing has come full-circle from pre-industrial days when you bought goods and services based on who you knew. Then transportation brought globalization, and, in the last couple decades since those first banner ads, the Internet has now made relationship marketing possible again, on a global scale. Marketing automation is the key to streamlining, saving time and labor and empowering those relationships.
Call me a relationship “martech-er.”
Tom McClintock is the owner and founder of Relationship Martech.