relationship marketing

Relationship and Experience Marketing Plan

SUMMARY: The central themes of this document are relationship and experience. It is the express opinion of the author that SEO and advertising are broken models in need of transformation. The way to create awareness in today’s world is through relationships and experiences. Enterprises should consider focusing solely on creating the right relationships and creating experiences in the context of these relationships.

HOW TO DO THIS: The sequence of steps related to this method of going to market are as follows. Note that this is a summary document related to a master document filled with actual personas, suggested content and suggested experiences.

1. Identify the ideal willing prospect as related to your brand. This means that you write out on paper who this person is. Ideally, these people are micro-influencers, with regional popularity and super-engaged networks. Action: write out and refine over time this profile. As your community grows, you will notice the various strata of your desired types, from beginner to elite. Be inclusive to this spectrum and become THE experts in how one traverses from beginner to expert.

2. Use social network analysis tools, such as Brandwatch, PeoplePattern, Musefind and Audiense to aggregate large groups of these prospects. Understand more about these prospects using psychological technologies similar to CrystalKnows and Watson (IBM). Such solutions will give you lists of people (along with detailed bio info) exactly similar to your ideal willing prospect. You will also discover the content these people are posting, the events they are attending and the experiences they are having. Absorb this on a daily basis. The value of this intelligence is that you will have inspiration for content, for events to attend, and for experiences to participate in (and feature). Your community is found using these tools.

3. Employ humans (flesh and blood) to reach out to these prospects and meet with them in person. Invest your dollars in outgoing, intelligent flesh, who love connecting online and offline. Ideally, these humans you pay are also your ideal types themselves. Again, invest your dollars in charismatic, intelligent humans vs. outdated SEO and advertising approaches. The former is a love affair and gains you access to real dynamic community. The latter is a shotgun shot into the dark and is temporary, requiring increased investment for less reliable results.

4. Plan on a 12 month program (at minimum) of getting to know the community you found using the network analysis tools.

5. Plan on investing in content that follows the Content Grid approach from Jess3 and Eloqua. http://thesocializers.com/the-content-grid/

6. Create content pieces for every stage along the consumer journey described in the Content Grid. Invest in research where you discover the best contexts for placing and socializing this content. Increasingly involve your community in creating this content with you, through their stories, quotes and experiences. http://thesocializers.com/the-content-grid/

7. Plan on running campaigns that award specific, meaningful items from strategic partners, such as plane tickets for two to anywhere, to members of your community. Show your growing community that you understand them through what you award them. Be a giving brand. Plan on becoming known as THE place to make one’s adventure happen.Through your brand, consumers realized their adventure.

On Networks and Individuals – a vital shift for the corporate mindset

One of the most forward-thinking actions a large entity can take in 2013 is designing programs through which small and medium sized entities may become affiliates. To say this again: see your prospect list as a list of networks, NOT as a list of individuals. And begin now to study these networks, to segment the individuals within these networks and to devise scripts, business plans and strategic alliances with each and every one (where it makes sense).

Seeing individuals as networks is perhaps the most important mind change for the C-Suite. In a world of social networks and social business, such a leap is how large corporations will stay alive. As Peter Economides, a leading market strategist, has said, “Mass is the aberration, one-to-one is the convention.” We have to get back to the mindset of the neighborhood shop, the hyper-local one-to-one way of business. This is how economies will flourish again, and why large businesses should begin to invest cash into lucrative local pools of affiliates.

When a corporation receives access to social networks through its staff, when the C-Suite is introduced into these networks, the initial questions have to do with practical application. An employee seeking to demonstrate the practical application of social business need only pick up the old rolodex on the desk of his/her CEO. That rolodex, that little black book, IS the central symbol for clueing the C-Suite into the practical application of social networks. And the entity that started in 2007 to build online rolodexes, to segment these into lists of prospects, future employees, affiliates, vendors, and competitors, has already streaked out ahead of the entity just entering social networks.

Eleftherios Hatziioannou, Principal at Peopleizers, captures the dilemma for corporate leaders: “Marketers and the organizations behind them need to stop thinking in quantitative metrics only and add some deeper/relationship-based success factors to their strategies. However, these are more difficult to scale, because it takes one relationship at a time. This puts many businesses off. They think: How am I supposed to answer every single question out there? Isn’t it more efficient to just keep interrupting people with our messages the way we did in the past decades?”

Corporations wishing to succeed in social networks will have to divert a percentage of advertising & media spending towards a new “Relationship Marketing” Department, populated with customer-service minded folks — the mindset in this department ought to be more like the real estate agent vs. the call center “cold caller” who has to get through a specific number of calls before lunch. In this new Relationship Marketing Department, it’s about quality contacts and quality networks derived from research followed up with highly customized customer-service flavored sales — solutions-oriented sales leading to a long-term relationship.

Replacing email blasts with relationship marketing

No, it was the other guy, the guy who bought what worked, the one in charge of the real budget–he wasn’t easy, but he was worth it… ~Seth Godin

THE CURRENT SITUATION: Ever receive an email with a sales pitch? We all do. And what do you do with 90% of these? You do not have time to read them and you trash them. Many times even when the pitch is about something you really want or need. There just isn’t time to open that email and read the pitch, click on the link and do all the digital “paperwork” to get what you want.

Receiving an email blast from a company is different than receiving a helpful solution in the context of a comment thread in social networks. The former is likely to end up in the junk folder. The latter is “in context” and will be read every time. This is why corporations are ceasing email blast campaigns and building relationship marketing teams. This is why corporations are building customized communities based on customer needs and competitors’ shortcomings.

Eleftherios Hatziiannou writes, “Marketers spent fortunes every year for marketing research and data to understand precisely who their target group is, what they want and where they can reach them. Today people publicly say what they want by using social media. Wouldn`t it make sense to learn how to participate in this new kind of marketplace and thereby turn conversations into commerce?” (SOURCE: http://www.peopleizers.com)

THE DEEPER REALITY WITHIN CORPORATIONS: An organization that moves away from email to internal communications networks, such as Salesforce Chatter, Yammer or Sharepoint is an organization that gets the value of relationship marketing. In addition, such an organization gets the value of knowing the context in which an employee/customer is complaining.

Brian Solis, Principal Analyst at Altimeter Group, writes, “Collaboration takes more than the idea of Facebook behind a firewall. This is about aligning people around a common vision, to encourage engagement beyond the teams you know, to create inside and outside experiences that matter to employees, customers, and partners. Enterprise social networks represent the technology to bring your vision to life as they are merely tools that mimic the way that people connect and communicate in the real world.” (SOURCE: What’s the Future of Business – http://www.wtfbusiness.com)

It’s one thing to have an email, a name and a role in our marketing database. And then to blast a prescribed formula to segmented lists. It’s a far deeper action to have a complaint, a context AND an email, name and role. When an organization has EVERY complaint out there about a competitor/themselves PLUS the current contact info for those who are complaining, they have an opportunity to engage in conversations with those complainers one-to-one. This is called relationship marketing.

“We created a contextual social space where people interested by a topic (in this case the World Economic Forum – http://weflive.com/kpmg) could follow what what said about it and the brand was opening a discussion channel in this precise context,” writes Nicolas Dengler of Shore.li, http://www.shore.li

The question is whether they will use such information in a way that the customer truly gets and wants to respond to. Will they mobilize their marketing team to offer solutions one-to-one in social comment threads? Or will they simply do another email blast?

Ted Rubin, a world expert in relationship marketing, writes, “Creating the opportunity for customers to share via a social platform allows people to give feedback/suggestions real-time and therefore increases the brand benefit exponentially.” (SOURCE: http://www.tedrubin.com/blog/)

When asked about the difference between corporations running email blasts and those running Relationship Marketing campaigns, Giles Palmer, CEO of Brandwatch, the world’s premier social media monitoring service, said, “The answer’s obvious, isn’t it? The difference between email marketing and relationship marketing reminds me of a guy driving a car around a town centre with a big microphone screaming their message out versus someone walking through the crowd shaking people’s hands and talking WITH them. If the broadcast message is funny or informative, ok, it’s a way to get to a large number of people quickly. But if it’s not, it’s just noise. And who wants to be remembered as the noisy guy in the room.” (SOURCE: Personal call with Giles Palmer of Brandwatch, April 2013)

This transition from email blasts to relationship marketing IS the future of marketing and sales. And it is the next step in moving from a culture that looks at people as digits TO a culture that sees people as people.

SOLUTIONS:
Solutions for corporations to build relationship include (in order):

a) an audit of all complaints/feedback about a product/service (using listening tech, such as Social Media Monitoring tools),
b) a creation of responses internally and/or with the help of a content-marketing agency,
c) the assignment of an individual/team to respond within 24 hours to complaints/feedback in ALL social streams and comment feeds,
d) the creation of a “living” database where these responses and the resulting sales are documented.

PURPOSE OF SOLUTIONS:

1) To identify who is complaining about our competitor.
2) To offer solutions to these people directly.
3) To improve our products/services through knowing their complaints.
4) To increase awareness of our comprehensive understanding of this market niche AND of what our customer needs.
5) To increase sales.

IN BRIEF: Social prospects are developed THROUGH providing solutions in social comment feeds. Conversion occurs when a prospect finds the solution satisfactory AND better than a competitor’s solution. The process involves: identification of needs through listening, providing better solutions to these needs than competitors, follow up with people who want to use the better solution.

RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY:

1. THE ULTIMATE EMAIL STATS LIST VIA HUBSSPOT:
http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33901/The-Ultimate-List-of-2012-Email-Marketing-Stats.aspx

2. THE GRAND GUIDE TO SOCIAL SELLING VIA ELOQUA:
http://www.slideshare.net/Eloqua/the-grande-guide-to-social-selling

3: HOW TO DO RESEARCH IN SOCIAL NETWORKS VIA BRANDWATCH:
http://www.brandwatch.com/knowledge-base/ebooks/