Why Relationship Marketing Trumps Content Marketing

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The dream of every business is to have a loyal customer base which consistently buys its products and enthusiastically tells everyone they know to buy them, too. The world of advertising gives us lots of ways to get our message out there, but only relationship marketing lets us create true two-way communication with our customers. If you’re simply depending on your website or blog to endear customers, you’re missing out on what social media can do for your customer base.

Relationship Marketing Allows for Tailored Advertising

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Image via Flickr by Hello Turkey Toe

It’s a big world out there and a message perceived as funny to one group comes across as tacky to another. Content marketing allows you to put out a single message to everyone in hopes that the majority will either embrace it or at least not be put off by it. Relationship marketing lets you get to know people, both your customers and potential customers, so you can offer them messages to effectively meet their needs in a pleasing way.

Relationship Marketing is a Two-Way Street

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Image via Flickr by Oran Viriyincy

Did you get less than enthusiastic results from your last marketing campaign? Even worse, did your campaign blow up in your face? All the focus groups in the world are no protection against campaigns ending like the failed Taco Bell chihuahua commercials. As it turns out, even enormously popular ads can actually lower sales. Some examples? The Energizer Bunny, California Raisins, Alka Seltzer meatballs, and Dove’s campaign for real beauty. How can you avoid these pitfalls? Relationship marketing lets you identify what’s wrong with your messages immediately and fix the problem before it translates into poor sales.

Relationship Marketing Builds Deeper Customer Bonds

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Image via Flickr by kewl

The days of throwing your advertisements in customers’ faces and garnering lots of sales has passed. DVRs have killed TV ad values, satellite radio is annihilating radio ads, and the Internet is gobbling up the rest. Content marketing is better than traditional ads, but it’s still static.

Today’s consumers want dynamic messaging they can respond to. When these messages touch them, they want to share. Ever seen a funny commercial you’d like to show your friend? Yeah, with relationship marketing you can do just that. Give them a good message and they’ll like and share for eons.

Relationship Marketing is Public Relations on Steroids

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Image via Flickr by tinou bao

Remember the poster child of successful public relations, the Tylenol incident? That was way back in 1982, but it’s still being used in college textbooks to illustrate exactly how to deal with a public relations crisis. What if Johnson & Johnson had social media then? If the company managed to endear the public and attain reputation-saving sympathy with a few TV cameras in their war room, what could they have done with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest?

Let’s look at the antithesis of Tylenol’s success: Toyota’s PR nightmare of 2010. With some effective relationship marketing, Toyota could have emerged as a victim of circumstances instead of the villain they ended up looking like.

Is relationship marketing the end-all of the advertising world? No, there’s still plenty of room for effective content marketing and other Internet, mobile, and traditional marketing efforts. But companies who learn to incorporate relationship marketing into their overall strategies are going to eat less forward-thinking companies for breakfast with a side of buttered toast.

What do you think?

Timothy Carter

Timothy Carter

Director of Business Development at AudienceBloom
Timothy Carter is the Director of Business Development for the Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency AudienceBloom. When Timothy isn't telling the world about the great work his company does, he's planning his next trip to Hawaii while drinking some Kona coffee.
Timothy Carter
Timothy Carter
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  • Veasna Onn

    Good post and I agree with you Timothy but you don’t provide any examples or proof of any company utilizing this method. I’m all about relationship building and in this case, maybe a new trend in relationship “marketing” but some examples would have definitley been a home-run for you. If there was a method or strategy to relationship marketing you can share with your readers, it would definitely help because right now it seems like this method requires the marketer to respond to every single comment being made. We all know that’s not possible. All-in-all, great insight.

  • Per Pettersson

    But are not content marketing a big part of relationship marketing? I’m thinking of all articles such as this with the action to comment, and engage? And using the content in social to make people aware of this content, read and comment?

    In my opinion, relationship marketing is a part of content marketing. And vice versa.

  • http://www.copyblogger.com Brian Clark

    And how do you get the relationship in the first place? Content marketing.

    There’s no trumping, just process.

    • http://Timothy-Carter.com/blog Timothy Carter

      I love it that the king of content himself makes the obvious valid point. ūüôā Creation of content is important without a doubt. Content can open the door to a chance at a relationship, but it takes more than great content to build the relationships. Thanks Brian for taking the time to read and respond to my post.

      • Jannis Blume

        Brian is somewhat right: You need CONTENT in the first place to create CONTEXT which is the base for ENGAGEMENT to build the RELATIONSHIP upon. So I would consider Relationship Marketing as a sub discipline to Content Marketing.

  • http://recruitment2013.ind.in/ Haresh

    Yes relational ship marketing to mucu useful and Timothy Carter have written all things that is to much useful for who are weak in marketing and specially in relationship marketing. I am agree with you about this kind of marketing it provides so much new environment of small business . And always business start with small things and after that they extends.

  • http://cluelessincollege.com Brad

    Good food for thought Timothy. I agree with @Brian Clark though. Relationship marketing may trump content marketing in terms of reach and PR value but you need a captive audience to start. Therefore, I would think it’s not that one would trump the other but that they act more as a 1, 2 punch. Start with knockout content marketing and then maintain the reader/customer relationships with responsive relationship marketing. On a side note, a strong relationship marketing strategy helps boost your SEO strategy as well. Gotta love snowball effects!

  • http://www.philyarrow.co.uk Phil Yarrow

    Good article Timothy. Sage Brain couldn’t of complemented your article better.

  • http://www.searchlocalhq.com Florett Rivera

    It’s vital, especially as an online business owner, to have a solid content marketing plan in place. You need to plan out where and what days you’ll be posting what content. It’s helps to streamline production and makes the process much easier. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  • http://www.muthurikinyamu.blogspot.com Muthuri Kinyamu

    Thanks for the article; I think it’s safer to compare Transactional marketing to Relationship marketing. Content marketing is somewhat part of the relationship marketing. For brands to remain relevant to consumers, marketers will have to think like publishers and technology companies. Like Red Bull, Coca-Cola, and Nike. Content is king and conversion is queen. The content lures the consumer thus a chance to build the relationship through PR, Experiential marketing, CSR and of course digital media which leads to the conversion. Just a thought….what do you have to say?

  • Rick

    I try not to think in terms of one trumping the other. That gets into an either / or kind of thing. I think these 2 kinds of marketing are complementary. For me, it’s all about working toward reaching out to people to attract, engage, help, teach, and hopefully, connect or interact. That’s just me.

  • http://www.capturetrackconvert.com D. Bruce Johnston

    Great points and I’m an advocate of relationship marketing and have to agree with Brian that you need the content first. That said, maybe a couple of concepts missing or implied that may add clarity are: engagement and nurturing. Add those to the mix and you begin to create a relationship.

  • Da√Īetta Evans

    Successful CM strategies start by understanding your customer. Knowing what to say and on what channel is a vital part of getting the customer to interact with the brand so you can build a relationship. This sounds like a what comes first the chicken or the egg situation. Great article.

  • http://www.shrmarketing.com Stan Robinson

    Relationship marketing and content marketing are synergistic. The messaging you mentioned is most effective when it is part of a content marketing strategy. Good content is most likely to get shared and invite interaction via relationship marketing. The information you glean from listening to conversations in social media will also help to fuel your content marketing strategy.

  • http://socialmediasass.com Karla Campos

    I agree that relationship marketing is very important, many companies don’t get that people want that one on one treatment. I have sat in meetings with executives from admissions from different schools and many still don’t get it. Many want to run their social media channels the way they run their traditional marketing not understanding how social media works. Many are just focused on sales and their numbers instead of focusing on people and building those relationships that lead to referrals and purchases. I understand the value of traditional marketing and content marketing as well, not trying to put those methods down since I use a combination. Good points in this article : )

  • http://blog.openviewpartners.com/how-customer-relationship-marketing-can-help-seo Luis

    Relationship marketing encompasses a fundamental understanding of your target buyers and customers which then gives the marketer the ability to target content through the appropriate channels along the customer journey. Like many of the comments suggest, content marketing is the key to driving engagement but doesn’t equal a relationship. Understand what the end goal of a relationship marketing strategy is first and then decide how best to apply your content in order to get the results you want. For those who shy away from relationship marketing because they think it doesn’t lead to a revenue even,t think again. It can be way more cost effective to invest in nurturing leads and current customers than to find and grow net-new leads.