Yesterday a friend said to me, “Why does everything have to be about marketing today? What happened to focusing on relationships?” She made this comment in reference to a high school reunion we are planning on attending in July (year excluded:) ).
Being the daughter of a Madison Avenue sales executive, I have always cringed at anything that sounds too “salesy” or marketing-hyped. And yet I have learned that social media networks can give a leader or entrepreneur access and dialogue to their constituents in ways that has the POTENTIAL to create real dialogue, connectedness and relationship.
I propose if one is truly connected with their relationships – in life or business – then there should be a minimal need to “market or over-market.” We have lost sight of the original intent of marketing. Fundamentally it is about finding out what a customer needs, filling that need, and then letting them know that you have what they need. Often we confuse wants with needs. To meet our agenda for revenue, we try to force-fit our product or service and lead the customer to believe they need something they don’t actually need or want.
Integrity is compromised. The customer may question – “are they really out to serve my best interests or to make a buck?” A great litmus test is – have you ever told a customer that you don’t have what they need or directed them to a colleague or a competitor? This is the sage leader at work, exercising wisdom and strength when the short-term pressures are great in the current climate. This choice places the long-term relationship view over the short-term pressures.
Yet reality hits – with increased competition and fewer spending dollars how do you get heard and noticed above the crowd? How do you leverage social media for business purposes – to stay connected and informed with your constituents versus using them in ways that others may view as violating to their sense of “right” relationships? I say it starts and ends with intent of purpose, being transparent and clear about a genuine desire to SERVE vs. get. When relationships become all about marketing then there are problems in the relationship. When marketing is about developing relationships of service both parties can benefit enormously. The key is keeping reciprocity in mind: ensuring that those who have a need have access to you and you can hear them as well. What do you think?
Copyright 2009 Sage Leadership Strategies, LLC www.sagelead.com