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Customer Relationships – An Old Time Concept Gets New Attention


A well done piece in the Jan 2 issue of Advertising Age titled, “The Dawn of the Relationship Era”, is worth a close look. Not just for marketers the message is on target for customer service, operations, IT and other departmental functions.

The articles premise is that in 2012, customer interaction is at a whole new level. The thought-provoking starts with,”you are being evaluated 24/7 in countless conversations that have zero to do with your ad slogan. On the contrary, they are about your brand’s essential self”.

Yikes! My brand has an essential self? 

The article goes on to map out companies that excelling at creating “sustainable relationships”, such as Apple, Toyota and Amazon, as well as those that have failed (Sears, Motorola and American Airlines).

Most interesting is companies like Apple and Amazon spend the little on advertising – because they don’t need it. Three retailers in the Sustainable quadrant – Amazon, Target and Costco – spend an average of 0.52 percent of sales on measured media. Sears, which has a “limited relationship”, on the other hand, spends 1.62 percent of sales and loses market share doing it.

What this boils down to is the actions and reality of a brand’s relationship speaks far more loudly than the elevated volume of advertising. This concept is not new. Back in the day of corner grocers, neighborhood hardware stores and ethnic bakeries – shop keepers knew they had to deliver quality/value/service (not necessarily in that order) every day in order to survive. Logos and slogans came later as band-aids to cover the painful lack of substance to a business’ relationship with its customers.

Today, in our neck of the woods, there’s a fine grocery store that has all kinds of fancy slogans, well-appointed fixturing and premium prices to match its premium product. But that’s not why I go there. I shop there because of Jerry. He’s the butcher. He knows his cuts of meat and knows his customers. Jerry has created sustainable relationships that go  beyond his employers marketing and better still, are based upon performance and interaction – not just words.

I only hope Jerry never retires.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 01/08/2012 4:49 pm

    Great article, thanks

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