When I was newly married, a good friend bought me a book on relationships. This therapist stressed over and over again : relationships are only as strong as the party who values them least. If Joe puts 10 out of 10 value points into his relationship with Jane, while Jane only invests in 7 out of 10, the Joe/Jane relationship is only 7 points strong.
If brands want to develop perceived value, affinity and/or relationships with their target customers, wouldn't the same relationship rules and dynamics apply equally to courtship, dating and marketing?
If I were a single guy courting a girl who only had a 3-5 (out of 10) interest in me, I would do more than open the door for her when she walks into Starbucks, I would try to impress her. I would put on the right clothes, shave, shower and show up with flowers. Similarly, if a brand wants impress a customer, they have to do more than open the door for them by giving out coupons. Brands have to woo customers into more than transactions. Brands have to exercise the strategies of courtship and dating towards relationship building.
Sounds simple right? But most brands aren't doing this!
Here's what most brands do: they get lazy. Consider the situation below:
I am interested in a particular girl, but I don't have the time to open the door for her, so I purchase a door-stop, write my name and number on it, and position it under the door of my favorite hangout. Now the door is always open for her to enter!
And yet she rarely comes by, and when she does stop by, she never really considers the doorstop, despite the sign I hang on the door directing her to look at the doorstop. Despite years of interaction, a deep and lasting relationship is never developed.
Bringing this back to social media/relationship marketing, brands need to do more than to serve as doorstops to relevant experiences. They have to be the experiences. They have to woo their targets, creating meaningful and lasting relationships. There are very few customers that care more about brands than brands care about themselves (sports is a rare exception). Brands have to create relationship equity, driving value and interest in a brand/customer relationship.
Key Takeaway: If you want your customers to care about you, to value your brand, to have a relationship with your brand, then you have to do more than open the door. You have to woo them. You have to foster relationship equity.