Sad, short answer: Most are.
The questions are why and how?
First, what is Relationship Marketing (RM)? Simply put, RM is based on how you can sell or service a customer and then continue to stay in touch in a friendly and helpful fashion and sell or service them a second, third, etc. time when they need that product or service again. Think sales and service departments at car dealerships. They stay in touch with helpful hints on how to keep the resale value of your car at a higher level by timely servicing of important components you might not even know it had.
As one man said, “It all comes down to building rapport, credibility, trust.” If you are nodding your head, you understand the entire basis of marketing that will lead to repeat sales.
However, then came the great Social Media revolution and everybody went online and tried to figure that out, especially when the government chimed in with rules and regulations about how one can reach out to new customers online.
Following on the heals of that came all the newly stylized experts, downsized corporate middle-manager types whose resumes said they “were responsible for building a team that sold $1B in goods or services”, who were going to bring all that knowledge to the little people.
Problem was, while the information was good at one time, it was no longer working in the new business environment.
Still, the experts’ do’s and don’ts became dogma and next thing you know we had the basis for the new economy — that is, hundreds of thousands of small businesses — getting fussed at by experts for doing it all wrong, yet still desperately floundering around trying to find what will work.
When asked questions about those methods, these experts first resort to gentle put-downs such as, “You don’t have the same background as me [plug in credential highlights here; give pat on head to little person]; just do ABC of my affordable online course [plug in link here] and you’ll be just fine.”
The gentle put-downs quickly ramp up in ferocity if the questions do not stop until, finally, this preacher of the three pillars of social media relationship marketing (SMRM)– rapport, credibility, trust — simply lets their ego get in the way of their buidling any of that and destroys opportunities for a future sale.
In other words, the SMRM expert can’t get an amen and her congregation goes to find another church.
So, what is wrong with the new SMRM dogmas? It is this: They are all about the soft sell that is so soft nobody knows you are selling. They focus on the make-nice-be-helpful so people will like you, but they then turn around and scream at you when you finally offer something concrete.
They say, “I am insulted that you reached out and tried to — gasp! — immediately sell me something. You should have been helpful to me first over an undetermined amount of time that only I know in my head, but that you should guess at and be right about.”
Reply: “Ummmm…was being helpful. Simply letting you know how I can help you with Challenge A should you be experiencing Challenge A. I gave you my bona fides and an easy link to read more about it. Hey, if you don’t need it, then that’s okay.”
You see, SMRM experts do not understand that all first contacts are cold calls. How else can you be helpful to someone if you know nothing about what their individual challenges are? Nobody has time to research every single person they want as a customer. So they send out feelers.
Look, large corporations understand that. Commercials on television, radio, online banner ads, sports event sponsorships, coupons in the paper, in-store signage, and more, are ways to let the buying public know they are there.
What if these same corporations, let’s say Coca-Cola, had to wait to make a sale until after they had found out what challenges each of their potential customers had and then collate that data to make a determination of whether or not that consumer was a good prospect and only then pitch their products?
Coca-Cola would not exist, that’s what. So Coca-Cola corporation is in your face everywhere all the time. But, hey, according to SMRM experts Coca-Cola is being rude and they are doing it all wrong.