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)
Tom McClintock is the owner and founder of Relationship Martech.