Knowing some new college graduates, I’ve been thinking of that scene from The Graduate where someone tells the new graduate: “I want to say one word to you. Plastics.”
What would the word be today? “Cloud?” “Social?”
For someone starting out in marketing, I think it’s something altogether different, and a little less trendy: “Relationships.”
On an individual basis, our relationships are what sustain us both personally and professionally. Most of my work is based on relationships of trust and respect that I have built with clients over the years.
But beyond the individual, relationships are now essential for marketing in general, even in large B2B organizations. It’s not enough to have the best product or service available. Marketing today is all about fostering relationships, rather than interrupting and getting attention.
How do you do this? Twitter followers and a Facebook page can help you nurture and sustain relationships, but are no substitute for doing the real work of building and maintaining a relationship:
- Understand your buyer/customer, respect their needs, and work to make their life easier. For example, I’m a big advocate of Southwest Airlines because they make my life easier by not penalizing me for last-minute bookings, by allowing me to change flights without a fee, and to check bags for free. I don’t feel taken advantage of by this airline. I even love the Android app that makes it easy to check in from anywhere.
- Don’t expect something back if you don’t put something into the relationship. Content marketing is a good way to provide some real value to prospects in the service of building a relationship.
- Be consistent in your interactions. Don’t put one set of messages in your marketing campaign, but then let surly employees or poor customer service give undercut the marketing message. Everyone with customer interaction needs to embrace the same corporate ‘personality’ and story.
Back to the “Plastics” line – what word would you give today’s graduates – particularly those looking for work in technology or marketing? I’d love to see other people’s thoughts.