This year marked my fourth consecutive year at MarketMix, and I have to say: it just keeps getting better! For readers who might not be aware, MarketMix is an annual event sponsored the Puget Sound chapter of the American Marketing Association (PSAMA). I arrived this year confident that I would leave at the end of the day with renewed eagerness to pursue what we as marketers all strive to accomplish—making a difference for our clients. And I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s amazing to see our community of local marketers sharing in, and yes, amplifying the enthusiasm year after year. For the second consecutive year, PSAMA representatives said that #MarketMix was the top-trending hashtag for Seattle that day. It was great to see fellow Projectliners joining the conversation online, including @projectline (thanks @CaptainChunk) and @SandraSullivan.
This year’s theme—“Thriving in a Conversation Economy”—was sprinkled throughout the keynote speeches and breakout sessions. But I thought that Ted Rubin, who gave the opening keynote, best articulated this idea. Rubin is the Chief Social Marketing Officer at Collective Bias and Social Media Strategist for MARS Advertising. Among other notable accomplishments, he’s known for popularizing the phrase “Return on Relationships” (ROR). And he had the audience riveted, not only by his approach (including the fancy socks and vest he was wearing, which he said are part of his personal brand!) but by what he had to say on this topic. He asserted that, although customer relationships have long been the currency of business, social media tools provide dynamic new ways for building and strengthening these relationships—if we use them well.
He pointed out that the words “like” and “friend” have unfortunately become commodities because of their automatic association with popular social media tools. He challenged participants to “take those words back” by focusing on building real engagement and interaction with people who have an affinity for the brands that we as marketers promote. He emphasized the importance of taking time to call at least one person a day, whether it’s a client or a prospective customer, or even a follower in social media who has expressed interest in learning more about the company we represent.
This stood out to me, so I put his suggestion into practice as soon as the conference was over. To be honest, it was refreshing not to be texting or tweeting for a change. And as I made the call, Rubin’s words resonated: building relationships is not about clicking on a button to make a statement; it’s about being open and honest, answering people by name, and attempting whenever possible to engage in meaningful dialogue.
According to Rubin, “ROR” comes from listening and making the conversation about the customer, knowing our audience, and asking the question: “How can I serve you?” If we make a genuine effort to connect with people, he suggests that we’ll gradually realize a “Return on Relationships” in the form of a solid group of motivated brand advocates. And what company couldn’t use a few more of those?
What do you think about the concept of “Return on Relationships”? How does your company put this into practice, and what kinds of benefits have you seen from this approach? If you attended MarketMix 2012, what key takeaways resonated with you? We’d love to continue the conversation. Leave a comment for us here, find us on Twitter—or even give us a call!