The whole idea behind new media and social networking is to form deeper relationships with customers which can be cultivated into a strong bond and, hopefully, brand loyalty. We use twitter, facebook, email, linkedIn, blogs, direct mail, and several other medias to stay connected to them. We spend millions to form and cultivate the relationships but, in the process, do we forget about the relationship itself?
Every Saturday my town holds a farmer’s market in the town hall parking lot. Local farms setup tables with fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and other wares for townies to browse and buy. Last Saturday my family and I dropped in to get a few fresh veggies for the week. While there we stopped at two farm stands, both local farms, and let the farmhands tell us what’s in season and make recommendations about what we have to try. I ended up with a yellow tomato for the first time.
On the way out we ran into a man walking down the road with two alpacas. Of course we had to stop. A small crowd of children and adults were there petting and taking pictures with the alpacas. The farmer told everyone their names and how much they loved attention, especially when they were hugged in pictures. While we were hugging and petting he made sure that we noted how soft and friendly they were. "Wouldn’t it be nice to have something this soft with you all the time? Why don’t you stop in at our market stand, Angel Wood Alpacas , and see what we have there?"
Brilliant! In those few minutes we were there this man transformed us from complete strangers to falling in love with the adorable and soft alpacas. Think of the implications. From then on, anything we bought at that stand wouldn’t just be an accessory, it’d be a story. It’s not a scarf. It’s an alpaca scarf, and I met the alpaca himself. His name is Elvis and here’s a picture of me hugging him. You can meet him this Saturday at the market. Amazing! Viral marketing without a send to friend link. 100% true permission marketing. A few days later I was reading The Wealth of Nations and my wife asked me about it. I gave her a quick overview and she laughed but gave me some great insight to build on.
We are in the midst of a new revolution. One that is bringing us backward in time. We’re no longer about Adam Smith’s most efficient product, we’re about the relationship. Curious, I asked my wife a hypothetical question: if you could buy a better or cheaper tomato somewhere else, would you? The hands down answer: no. Why? Because of the relationship.
In today’s hi-tech, long tail, environments customers are about getting what they want, and they want a relationship. They want to be brand loyal becasue they want a brand they can count on. This is the age of information. Marketing is about making customers aware of your brand in such a way that they want to know more about it, and then making the information easily available.
New is media pull marketing, not push. It’s a conversation, not a megaphone. New media is relationship cultivation, not management.