For a couple of years now I’ve been promoting what I call relational marketing. If you have never read this blog, essentially I take the approach of building and maintaining positive personal relationships with customers in non-direct sales type of way. I always value the relationship over the sale and I believe out of that approach you can generate more sales over time. The catch is, you must authentically care about the customer, not just pay lip service.
Over these couple of years I’ve pitched this idea in everything from job interviews to consulting gigs. A handful of people got it, most were indifferent and several outright mocked me. The few that got the idea have shown me examples over and over of how a company can succeed. The ones who mocked me are struggling to stay in business right now. Neither of these scenarios has anything to do with me personally I might add.
A couple of months ago I stumbled across @garyvee’s new book The Thank You Economy. The summary sounded good so I downloaded a snippet of the first chapter. It was right in line with what I have been trying to preach. I immediately preordered the book. I am about halfway through it and I have found confirmation to some ideas and clarity to others. I firmly believe this is the future of marketing.
At SXSW this week I had the chance to hear Gary speak and expand on some of his ideas. At dinner that night we happened across a get together by an interesting new company called Happy Cog. They were giving away copies of The Thank You Economy. I took one with every intention of giving it away. I thought about doing one of those book giveaway contest on this blog, but I struggled with that idea because I don’t think it fits the theme of this book.
About a year and a half ago I met @pstrack. He asked me to go to lunch with him to hear about what I do. I spend a minor amount of money on print every year. I am essentially a small fish in a small pond. Despite that Paul invited me out to his print shop for a tour. When I arrived Paul had a small board set up that said “Welcome Greg Henderson”. It made me feel like I was the most important thing in his day.
Over the past year Paul has never tried to sell me print, I give him my business because I feel like he cares. In this time he has not only gained my business but that of many others. He does this because he makes every customer feel like his interaction with them is the most important part of his day. As a result his business has grown, and he has become a good friend. If he sends me something I listen not because it is a slick email or postcard but because I know he wouldn’t send it to me if it didn’t matter.
I am giving him the copy of the book because I think he embodies this approach. He gets it. It is my way of saying thank you to him. I am giving him the book though with his promise that he will find someone else who shares this same vision that relationships matter and pass the book along to them. My hope is that this will keep going. If the book gets too worn to pass on either buy a new one or let me know and I will buy a new one for you.
Bottom line: Relationships matter. People matter. Don’t create a marketing campaign, create genuine relationship with people. Tell them you appreciate them and mean it. Once the relationship is there the business will be there.