Marketing Vs Owning Relationships

The reason most companies and people have a challenge with their marketing efforts is that they’re trying to market and not own a relationship. 2013-06-05 17.36.15

I found myself wandering through Boston’s Faneuil Hall the other day and happened upon the band, the Ballroom Thieves playing for a crowd. I love watching musicians in street situations, because I learn a lot about pure business from them. They need to get someone’s attention, wow them enough to motivate that person to put a hand into their pocket, and earn some money. It’s pure marketing and pure sales at its best. And when it’s done right, it’s relationship building.

Marketing Is an Action

Getting me to sign up for a mailing list is an action. Having your CDs prominently displayed with a simple pricing placard is an action. Making just a tiny bit of eye contact when my cash goes into your little box is an action. That’s what people do. It’s part of it. You have to do all that.

Relationships Are About Ownership

Last night, Rachel Gawell from The Ballroom Thieves reached out to me specifically on Twitter and asked if I’d be at their show coming up. I had somehow thought the show was on another night, so I would have missed it, even if I remembered. But because Rachel took the extra step of making a point of connecting with me, one on one, I’ll be seeing the Ballroom Thieves tonight.

But think about this: I’m just one schmoe in the crowd. Granted, I’m a schmoe with an audience, so let’s not discount that. But just scanning the rest of Rachel’s tweets, she’s doing the work. She’s connecting, reaching out, looking for ways to build up the other bands she supports, and help the venues she works in and beyond. She’s relationship-minded. And that’s how she uses the tools, to connect and keep relationship experiences flowing.

One Takes a Lot More Work

Marketing is all you need if you’re selling a product anyone else can buy elsewhere. I wouldn’t put a ton of work into trying to sell hot dogs, for instance. Unless, of course, I wanted a relationship, and I wanted to be the best hot dog guy in the universe, the one that comes to mind the minute you mention hot dogs the way Joe Sorge comes to mind the minute someone says burgers.

I don’t care what sized business you are. Rachel’s a musician in a three-person band. Ferg Devins represents MolsonCoors in Canada, a pretty big company, and he’s every bit about relationships. Joe’s restaurant group owns six or seven or more restaurants and he’s about relationships.

And thus, it’s a choice.

You can market, which you have to do anyway, or you can own some relationships. Not every relationship. Even some key ones.

Your results WILL vary, and that’s the point. No? runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Anton Koekemoer

    Good read Chris.

    The new marketer title = relationship manager

    • Chris Brogan

      Here’s hoping. : )

  • Max Silver

    Love it Chris…they have been working hard for a while at this, and market themselves really well. Check out their handmade vinyl’s, very personal touch to all of them, as is their entire merchandise setup as shows (check it out tonight). As well as awesome IndieGoGo campaigns, and a lot more. GREAT marketing by a band.

    • Chris Brogan

      Oh that’s pretty cool! : )

  • Dave Delaney

    Love this. Strangely, now I’m craving hot dogs.

    • Chris Brogan

      That’s because hot dogs are delicious!

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  • Maria Reyes-McDavis

    Every person in a marketing (or related) role should be required to read this if they want to keep their jobs. Ownership changes everything, it has to be systemic or its just another play. Love this train of thought.

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks! : ) I hope they do. : )

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  • Geordie Wardman

    Question Chris – How in the world did Rachel get your twitter address to personally tweet you? I’ve got all kinds of scenarios in my mind of how she could collect this information while playing music in the street, and also know that you were in the crowd.

    • Rachel Gawell

      Hey Geordie! Rachel here. In short, Chris signed our mailing list and included the note “email me!”
      had been tipped off by some friends that someone watching us had been
      super into my playing but had left before getting to talk to me. I
      always keep a lookout for anyone who likes me, since as a musician I
      can’t afford to lose contact with even a single solitary fan, so long as
      I have any control over it. Armed with only Chris’s name,
      note, and the suspicion that he was the one my friends had mentioned, I
      Googled his name and followed him on all possible social media channels.
      When he responded to my tweet and subsequently came to the show, I was
      finally able to make a connection in person. Good thing, too, since he’s
      a fantastically nice guy and valuable friend to a band like ours.

      • Geordie Wardman

        Very nice move on your part Rachel. I like it, and thanks for getting back to me! Good luck with your continued success and have fun making great music.

  • Lisa Danielpour

    Thanks so much, Chris, Love the way you position how core relationship building is to the future of any organization. I’m using this philosophy in planning the launch of my start up developing ios apps for kids. Always learn from your posts and e-newsletter.

  • namnum

    Got a chance to guest lecture yesterday (ethical marketing for a social entrpreneur class) and spent a lot of time on this topic. What I (hope I) accomplished yesterday in 4 hours you got across wonderfully in one post :)

    Forwarding this to my students, you rock Chris.

  • Dan Erickson

    I find it easier to market and build relationships for my books Online than in person. I feel like a used car salesmen when I try too hard in person. That said, I also have little time to do in-person events right now, but have had a book signing and a am speaking Sunday at a Unitarian Church. But I still feel uncomfortable to market myself during a talk about forgiveness. Any ideas?

  • Mitch Jackson

    After reading this blog post, my partner (and lovely wife) “got it”. Thanks!

  • louiesison

    I agree… Relationship is a choice.

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  • Matt Hixson

    Hey Chris – Nice post. The idea of relationship and true community have seemed to fade as these networks have grown to a size people feel they need to market and not build relationships. The one thing I would say is the part you mention about having an audience. This may be true but what is more important is does your audience trust you on music? A large audience by itself is nothing more than potential impressions. You are right about relationship – but relationships are built within a context. The real question is who takes action when you talk about music.

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  • Shawn Hank

    Hi, Chris. The concept of “ownership” you so nicely conveyed applies to every area of our lives, no? Beyond the business context, it applies to your personal relationships (kids, spouse, friends) and individual results as well (fitness, money, etc.)

    I bet there is a direct correlation to the level of personal fulfillment and satisfaction that Rachel has that would be pretty tough to achieve without having this level of ownership.

    Makes me think hard about what I am going to be doing in the very near future.


  • JLM

    Great post. Thoughtful and well played.


  • Arun Singh

    Thanks for this excellent post. You are right, humanizing your brand and getting involved with your clients is the only way to build trust and a long term relationship.

  • DianeGilabert

    So refreshing. The best part of the web is being part of a genuine community.

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  • Ferb Huynh

    Yep, everybody’s doing the same thing but the important is to build relationship with people.

  • James Clark

    Yes, I agree you that everyone is doing the same thing. But there is a little magic in the business of Marketing. Based on my experience, everyone is not thinking the same thing. I think that gives the edge to some marketers.

  • Jill Hammergren

    Great post. I agree, to be successful in marketing and in life, it’s all about relationships and the way you nurture them.

  • Alison Kinney

    It’s what makes you stand out from the crowd. Business is all about relationship building. What else makes you stand out? You would get lost in the marketing crowd per se otherwise…great article!

  • Wanda Davidson

    as Jacqueline explained I am stunned that some one can profit $9806 in 4 weeks on the internet. have you read this page w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

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  • Ramon De Leon

    Chris, I love how you made the contrast between the two. Just let people know the face behind the logo and your customers will help you get to where you want to be.

  • KriszR

    Chris, I love your last statement: “…own some relationships. Not every relationship. Even some key ones.” It reminds me of marketing to a certain kind (specific type) of audience and not to everybody. You can’t be all things to all people.

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  • Brandy Sacco

    That is a great thought about owning relationships…. Attract the type of customer that you want to work with and not just everyone or anyone!

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