Can You Learn from a Relationship Expert?

What CPG Marketers Can Learn from Dr. Phil

It seems like the idea of relationship marketing has been around for a long time, now. A very long time, indeed, if we include the relationships we (and generations before us) have had with our local merchants such as the hairstylist or accountant. And now that we’re in the digital age, we’ve all heard the idea that technology promises marketers the ability to create and manage relationships that approach this level of personal touch and trust, and to do so at a massive scale and in cost-efficient ways.

Yet, I’ve always been curious about how far we can take the metaphor of marketing as a relationship. What limits does it have? How deep can the relationship really go? So, in my never-ending quest to exhaust the application of this metaphor, I’ve decided to take my search to another level and consult the personal relationship master, Dr. Phil McGraw, to see what advice of his we might be able to apply to marketing in the 21st century. Here’s a few ideas Dr. Phil had to offer:

“Have a Solid Friendship”

“If you want a good friend, be a good friend,” says Dr. Phil. What kind of friend are we? Do we listen or just “wait to talk” as marketers? What are the actions we take in the relationship we’re trying to foster?

“Meet Each Other’ Needs”

There are two aspects to this challenge: to understand the consumers’ needs and to understand our own (which some marketers mistakenly assume they already know). Like any relationship, these needs may change over time, so we need to have the mechanisms in place to observe, understand and articulate the changes as the relationship matures.

“Set Specific Goals”

“Wake up each morning and say, ‘What can I do today to advance the ball?’” Dr. Phil advises. Where do we want our consumer relationships to go and how will we know if we’ve gotten there? Like any good marketing, relationship marketing must be goal-driven.

“Get Back to Basics”

“The idea is to have some concept of what …a partnership is supposed to be and start doing those things.” Dr. Phil is describing a vision statement. What are the fundamental characteristics of the relationship we want to have? These need to be documented and adhered to.

“Take Responsibility”

When something goes wrong in a relationship – something we should expect and plan for, by the way – how will we handle it? Simply ignoring the event would never fly in a personal relationship, so why do marketers sometimes take this tact? What will we do to respond when the relationship veers off course?

As always, thanks for the advice, Dr. Phil. You’ve taught us that the metaphor still works!

Quotes courtesy of www.drphil.com

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