Today’s brands face an apparent choice between two evils: continuing to slash their increasingly ineffective advertising, or putting blind faith in the supposedly mystical power of social media, where “likes” stand in for transactions and a mass audience is maddeningly elusive. There has to be a better way…
As Lennon and McCartney wrote a half century ago, money can’t buy you love. But in today’s world where people have become desensitized – even disillusioned – by ad campaigns and marketing slogans, that maxim is even truer: Money can’t even buy you like.
That’s because we’ve entered the “Relationship Era” where the only path for businesses seeking long-term success is to create authentic customer relationships. Not through hip social media promotions, viral videos, or blizzards of microtargeted online ads. Those tactics, which simply disguise old ways of thinking with new technology, simply don’t work long term.
So what does work in this bewildering new era? Where do “authentic customer relationships” come from? Honesty. Transparency. Shared values. A purpose beyond profit. Sure, you still need a high-quality product or service to offer, but that’s not enough. Now that people can easily discover everything that’s ever been said about your brand, you can’t manipulate, seduce, persuade, flatter, or entertain them into loyalty. You have to treat them like flesh-and-blood human beings, not abstract consumers or data points on a spreadsheet.
The good news is that some companies have already embraced the Relationship Era and are enjoying consistent growth and profits, while spending substantially less on marketing than their competitors:
- Patagonia, a clothing company with a passion for environmentalism, solidified its customer relationships by urging people NOT to buy one
of its jackets.
- Panera Bread doubled per-store sales by focusing on ways to create a welcoming environment, while spending just 1 percent of sales
- Secret, the women’s deodorant, grew market share by 8 percent by focusing on its commitment to fearlessness.
- Krispy Kreme built a near cult of loyal Facebook and Twitter fans, all but obliterating the need for paid advertising.
Blending powerful new research, fascinating examples, and practical advice, Garfield and Levy show how any company can thrive in the
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