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April 27, 2011
Get Hooked Up! Marketing = Relationships
One of the many things I learned while my daughter spent the past four years in college is that marketing hasn’t changed over the years. I would be handed a paper to look over and then have to Google half of the terms used. Channel marketing?  I think we used to call that distribution channels. SWOT? Oh, you mean competitive analysis. But when my kid smugly informed me that the latest and greatest thing is “relationship marketing” I had to put down the search engine and laugh out loud.

Marketing has always been about relationships. Sure, in The Dark Ages we didn’t have so-called friends on Facebook who liked us by pressing a button or followers on Twitter who are able to form a deep, personal relationship while limited to 140 characters. But everything from a consumer‘s connection to a product or company to the drinks shared with the radio ad salesperson once a year was about relationships.

I remember a case study from Consumer Behavior 101 that compared the psychographics of Crest users to Colgate customers. The Crest folks were health conscious and responded well to messages such as “Four out of five dentists recommend …” In contrast, the Colgate purchasers were…are you sitting down?…HEDONISTS! Who knew? If that’s not a relationship, I would like to know what is! Personally, I am still waiting for the advent of chocolate flavored toothpaste before I call my dental product choice a relationship. On further reflection, buying that product would go beyond brand loyalty to the status of “significant other.”

My first gig in the industry was part time at a large printing company in Philadelphia while I was finishing my undergraduate degree. Just as I was graduating and feeling secure in the knowledge that I could stay in that position full time, the economy went south and they lost a couple of major clients. When the art director called me into his office I looked around for the chopping block but was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of our meeting. He told me that indeed I was about to be laid off but he knew of a small agency that was looking for a production artist and he was recommending me for the position – because he liked me. This was incredibly generous of him, since a few months earlier I had unfortunate episode with the department’s photostat machine. I blew it up. By accident, of course.

I interviewed for the new job that very day and got it on the spot. I didn’t even have a portfolio to show, but the art director told me later that two factors were involved in my hiring. One was the glowing recommendation from my former boss and the other was because he liked me. We remained friends long after we both left the company, which was amazing since not only did I blow up his stat machine, too, but I also misspelled “Christmas” in a huge national print campaign. (Ah, Letraset!)

My entire career was much more about relationships than resumes. Typically, my existing customers would recommend me to their friends, and my client base grew with very little self-promotion. But I also picked up accounts just by being out there doing things. While taking graduate courses at night two of my fellow students became clients; one of which was an international account.

The above-mentioned daughter is graduating next month with a shiny new marketing degree, but no job. She is answering ads and sending out resumes but not having much luck. I told her that she needs to get out there, do things, and meet people. She learned that the local social media club occasionally gets together for drinks in town. Perfect! If there’s one thing a college student knows how to do…well, let’s not go there.

If you are interested in forming new relationships and learning new things, here is a short list of some of the upcoming events in May, both online and off:

Throughout May (all online)                                                                       

This event should be called, “Everything You Ever Want to Know About Social Media But Didn’t Know Who to Ask.” Some of the biggest names in the industry including Mari Smith, Guy Kawasaki, and Brian Solis will be presenting in 24 webinars spread over the month of May.

SEARCH MARKETING - May 13 (online)   10:30am ET–3:30pm ET                                                                         
A FREE event during which you will learn how to integrate search and social and how to focus your SEO efforts,  as well as being able to mingle with leading experts and other participants.

May 9-15 – New York City                                                                                                                             

This is the granddaddy of them all, and if you are in or around New York City you should go. There are a lot of free events and it’s simply a great way to interact face-to-face with some of the best creatives around.

unGeekedElite Retreats
May 12-15 Chicago                                                                                                         

Several social media, marketing, and branding three-day retreats are scheduled throughout the year in various locations. The event includes panel discussions with noted experts; participants are encouraged to be involved and get inspired.

May 19 – New York City                                                                                                                             

Another venerable institution in the ad agency world, this all day event and conference culminates in the award ceremony.

There are so many opportunities to get involved, learn, and meet people. Check your local market for events to attend in your area, or check out the oh-so-many web based gatherings. And if you do go, learn, and meet, have fun!  Then write to me and let me know about your experiences.

After all, we should have a relationship!

Rhonda Wenner, Managing Editor

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Rhonda Wenner is a Very Old Advertising Person who has been there, done that, and seen quite a bit.
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