How to Build a Relationship-Driven Company Culture ~via @MarketingScope

How to Build a Relationship-Driven Company Culture ~via @MarketingScope

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What’s the one thing that’s lacking in business culture today that has the potential to bring in more revenue than anything else? I’ll give you one word: trust. It’s not something you can buy with advertising dollars. It has to be earned through the actions of the people in your company, from the executive office all the way to the mailroom. Unfortunately, many people seem to have forgotten the impact that this little 5-letter word (or lack of it) has in their personal and business relationships.

I’ll give you a recent example from LinkedIn — the generic LinkedIn request to connect, followed closely by a sales pitch. I’m sure you’ve received some of those, right? Who hasn’t? Now I’m not objecting to the connection request—after all, LinkedIn is for connecting. Maybe they’re new to the platform and don’t know how to personalize a connection request, maybe they made the mistake of using the mobile app which for some reason doesn’t allow for a personal note. That’s understandable. But connecting with someone just to pitch them (without building a relationship first and developing trust) is inexcusable.

I posted my “new reply” to those types of pitches on Facebook, and it goes like this:

“So you connected in order to simply pitch me… not even a hello, how are you, buy me a cocktail before propositioning me? You don’t even know me, sent me a generic connection request, then when I open the door for you, instead of shaking my hand and getting to know me… you come right out with a sales pitch.

Seriously??? Dude… time to get some relationship building game. Good luck on your next pitch… not interested. Make it a great weekend. “

The post received 42 comments and over 211 likes, and virtually every commenter was in solidarity with me—many having had the same experience.

I don’t know a single person who likes to get pitched via social (or any communication channel) before a relationship is established. Do you? Yet we see this all the time—especially from sales people more interested in meeting quota than doing the work of building rapport.

Rajesh Setty, co-founder and President at WittyParrot, illustrates this concept in his LinkedIn post entitled “The Forgotten Art of Asking Right.”

He hits the nail on the head with this post, using an ingenious, color-coded “Request Spectrum” illustration of the four zones of relationship maturity and where it may (or may not) be conducive to ask for something.

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Zone 1 is where you first meet, and the illustration shows the trust-building track along the relationship as you get to know the person, develop rapport, etc.

In my opinion, Raj’s spectrum should be required reading for any sales or marketing class, and it should be built into every organization’s employee guidebook.

Are there some people that will ignore it anyway? Sure. There are lots of folks out there who could win awards on pissing off their co-workers, alienating customers and driving away prospects. It’s a personality thing. However, if more companies ask the right questions on interviews, they could weed out those potential employees who will never “get it.” And by actively teaching this concept to current employees and making it integral to company culture, organizations could scale their relationship-building capabilities both inside and outside the company via both face-to-face meetings, and especially via digital and social channels.

However, I also think that companies must do a better job of building trust with their employees. It’s a two-way street. The key lies in revamping the employee-employer relationship. Employers have to understand that the “buyer’s market” they’re in right now will not always be the case, and even if it is, that attitude is no way to build brand loyalty that can go well beyond time on the job. If you want to build a winning team that stays with you, advocates for you and helps you get ahead as a company, you have to treat that team with respect. Treating employees like a commodity and/or a cost center eventually backfires because it leads to constant turnover, which is counterproductive in the long term.

Another way employers can build and nurture this type of culture is byempowering their employees and recognizing the fact that social connection is an integral part of all of our lives now. Remember that in today’s social world, every person has an extended circle of personal influence and an opportunity to build their own personal “brand.” By helping your employees build that brand rather than squelching individuality, you could build an army of very powerful advocates. Most people, when given the opportunity will advocate for their brands, when they feel good about where they work.

Start thinking of your employees as an investment instead. If you look out for them and help them when they need it, they’ll be there for you when you need them. It can be as simple as creating a nurturing workplace that encourages growth and innovation, versus a culture of fear fostered by so many companies today.

Maybe we can’t teach everyone how to #JustBeNice, but we can definitely do a better job of building trust with our employees and teaching them to do the same with co-workers, vendors and customers.

#JustBeNice   #RonR

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Most Brands Don’t Look People in the Eye Digitally on Facebook ~@Progressive

 

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ttps While I can name several big brands that are killing it on Twitter for relationship building and engagement, I don’t think I’ve actually seen one that’s getting Facebook right. Sure, they invest quite a bit in making their business pages look great—they might even have a powerful content strategy for posting and curating things their audience finds valuable, and an ad budget to boot! But the one thing that all brands could be doing better on Facebook has nothing to do with cranking out more content or spending more money on ads—it’s developing a one-on-one strategy.

We’re Lazy Marketers

 

 

 

In my new book, How to Look People in the Eye Digitally, I talk a bit about how lazy we’ve become as marketers. We want to get in front of a zillion people. We want to send them a bazillion messages. We feel pressured to publish lots of content. We want to do it all NOW. But we’ve lost touch with how to listen to people—how to watch them when they’re talking to us. People on social channels have become data points instead of human beings, and we spend way too much time trying to get something from them.

On Facebook we measure all those things we want to get from our audience whether it’s likes, shares comments or clicks, but we miss the most important part—the ability to look into the life of a person and see what they’re really about, and open up a one-on-one dialogue.

Granted, it’s a little easier on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, where everyone that’s connected can see the other person’s profile and browse their posts. But not everyone’s on Twitter or LinkedIn. If your audience primarily hangs out on Facebook, that’s where they want to converse with you. You need to find ways to get to know them there.

Time to Get Personal

I have a personal profile on Facebook, and I use it to get to know people. If you have a brand page, that’s great—but someone on your staff needs to also leverage their personal page to “friend” members of your audience. This is a must, because watching a person’s profile is the best way to find out what makes them tick, and to start up human-to-human conversations that build trust and loyalty.

Use it to reach out to people who have commented on a post or have sent a private message to you. Check out their “about” section, their photo albums, the places they’ve been—and delve into their timeline to see what they like to share. Get a sense of them as a person.

Whether you’re a CEO or a Customer Experience Manager, this exercise is invaluable. It reveals so much more about a person than you can glean from an email, message or phone call. Even from a purely informational perspective it’s a goldmine, but don’t stop there. Use what you learn to be more proactive at human business. Here are just a few ways you can leverage this knowledge:

  • Research for product launch: Pure listening helps build stronger buyer personas, which helps you design a better product or service.
  • Survey customers to get feedback: Personally reaching out to get honest feedback makes people feel valued. It’s priceless!
  • Give better customer service: People just want to be heard, and have their concerns validated by another human being. If they reach out to you on Facebook—answer them there—and give it a human face.
  • Nurture your best advocates: The first step in developing an advocacy program is to reach out to each person who supports you. Make it personal. Let them know you appreciate them as an individual.
  • Get to know new business friends: Connecting on Facebook with people you’ve just met in person or at an event is a great way to get to know them quickly and strengthen your professional relationship.

Once you’ve found out more about these people, take it to the next level. Keep track of them in Friend Lists. Like their posts. Comment on them. Share them. Ask questions or just say thanks. Once you’re friends, Facebook’s video cards featureis a great way to send a personalized message of appreciation with the punch of a visual component.

In fact, going this extra mile to get to know your customers, vendors and others on Facebook can be a unique differentiator for you, simply because most brands aren’t doing it. Whether you’re a start-up restaurant owner like guys in the video below, or the head of a seasoned company looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, think about how you can turn connection into something more. Looking for ice breakers makes you more humanly engaging, and people will respond.

These guys are definitely on the right track. Their passion is infectious, they’re warm and personable, and they’re excited about developing their “uniqueness.” If they can translate that into their social conversations and go the extra mile to get to know their followers on Facebook, it will go a long way towards building social advocacy—word of mouth on steroids.

Most brands aren’t doing this, so you’ll stand out if you put it into practice. This might mean dedicating some staff to the process, or earmarking a certain amount of time to it yourself. However, the rewards of deeper connection will soon become evident in better insight, more trust, improved brand perception in the marketplace and stronger relationships. #RonR

*This post was written in partnership with Progressive Insurance. I have been compensated, but the thoughts and ideas are my own. For additional small business tips, check out Progressive’s Small Business Big Dreams program.

 

 

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How to Build a Mobile Community

Building a mobile community is the same as building any community… engage, interact, add value and show support for the group and what is important to them. In today’s digital world it’s all too easy for us as brands and individuals to let our relationship-building muscles atrophy. We get caught up in a multitasking whirlwind of emails, social updates and text messages where it’s easy to let a connection or a conversation fall through the cracks. We’re super-connected, yet somehow disconnected at the same time. This puts us at risk of losing the very relationships that help us prosper as companies and people. … Read more

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Social Media is the New Quality Control

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If your product is fantastic, when identified and energized your Advocates will spread the word like wildfire. Social networks and traditional word-of-mouth will start buzzing with your product, and sales will reflect your Advocates’ delight.

But your advocates won’t try to get someone to buy your sub-par product, and they certainly won’t apologize for you or your product. Don’t try to make your Advocates do that work for you, because they won’t… and they shouldn’t have to.

The sale starts with your product, not your Advocates; your Advocates are simply the reward you get for ensuring your product is and does everything you promised it would (if not more!). Your strongest relationships are built on trust – trust that your brand is committed to producing quality products and services – and if you don’t deliver that top-notch product, that essential trust is quickly lost. Along with the sales.

You might be tempted to use social media to over-highlight the best parts of your product in the hopes that the disappointing parts won’t be noticed. But even the best social media relationships can’t perform magic… they won’t make up for a less-than-great product, and in all likelihood the strategy will backfire.

However, the good news is that when your product is strong and does carry through on your brand promises, advocates (both consumer and employee), through their social relationships, can skyrocket your product sales. Advocates engage, word gets out, and sales happen. As Seth Godin says, Consider the category of ‘without apology’ “People will go out of their way to buy and recommend products that don’t require an apology.” They will go out of their way for you. Because they want to… because your product is what it is supposed to be and has passed Social QC.

Don’t waste your time trying to hide your product flaws. Invest your time in striving for a flawless product, and give your Advocates something to get excited about! #RonR

 

 

Previously posted at TedRubin.com

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