Marketing is dead. Welcome to Relationing.

Five Steps in the Era of “Relationing”



Marketing has changed dramatically since 1960, when E. Jerome McCarthy coined the “4 Ps of Marketing” as the most common variables in building a successful marketing mix.


While price, promotion, product, and place was later expanded to the 7 Ps, to include packaging, positioning, and people, the ability to identify the profile of the prospect that is most likely to turn into a long-term customer has become far more scientific.

Ironically, the culmination of the vast data sources, algorithm models and behavioral science studies has uncovered one very simple concept: Customer loyalty is the magic ingredient in profit generation.


However, customer loyalty is not a new term.


Finding the right combination of provocations to drive loyalty has become an extremely sophisticated business practice. Today, experiential marketing is personalized and fine-tuned in ways that amaze even those who are creating the models. The level of personalization that is available through technology, combined with the human need to trust and build relationships is bringing us into a new era of marketing.


At AcornOak, a boutique consultancy that helps our clients to identify the unique and relevant attributes of their brand through the eyes of the marketplace, we have coined a term to redefine the relationship building that marketing has become.


Welcome to the future of marketing: “Relationing”


Ever since people have had something to sell, we’ve been marketing. Over the last 10 years, with technology advancing at an increasingly rapid pace and consumers' desires evolving and highly influenced by their environment, we’ve witnessed a dark marketing reality: greed.


Greed has become the driver of growth at the expense of the customer. Most marketing tactics today have one primary goal: sell more. Marketers are going to great lengths to make it happen but at the cost of losing sight of their customers’ real pain.


Today, to achieve profits, the entire brand and marketing game appeals to a false identity and sense of authenticity. Brands create stories hoping to make people believe that buying their products will result in feeling "authentic" and connected to their essence. It’s a powerful and misleading way to appeal to customers who feel distressed and overwhelmed by information and unlimited market choices.


Targeting customers involves aggressive marketing tactics and the vocabulary used reflects this mindset - tracking, retargeting, SWOT, competitive analysis, and offensive strategy - just to name a few. Customers are being transformed into prey because their demographic is the “right fit” for greedy marketers’ products or services.

Marketers have lost their way by using all the slimy tricks of propaganda married to the allure of casino gambling to play on base-level instincts. High emotions like fear, anger, and adrenaline are the dependable ways to manipulate for short-term profit.

Therefore, it is time for a new era with a new marketing foundation to restore balance in the way we engage with customers. Aptly stated by Jonathan Hook, a forward-thinking market researcher, and consultant, we must become a “human business.”


Marketing for a Relationship = “Relationing”


It's a game-changing, deeper approach to marketing.


Relationing has four objectives:

  1. Clearly define the purpose and attributes of your product

  2. Connect the brand to clients looking for it

  3. Find more clients who love the brand products and services

  4. Give people control as an opportunity to become brand advocates shaping the future of the brand.

Welcome to the 5Rs of Relationing


The 5 Rs of Relationing are: Reason, Relationship, Reach, Responsibility and Relatable.


Reason -

What are the reasons for someone to purchase your product? How are you Trustworthy and Credible? What is your key differentiation?

This requires a shift from your perception to your clients’ perception and having an honest look at the marketplace.


Relationship -

How can the brand build a relationship with its customers? What are your functional and emotional benefits and how do you create that relationship with them? Does the customer feel you appreciate their business? Are your customer service initiatives able to personalize a response to a customer inquiry or to personalize the resolution to a complaint?


Reach -

How do customers find you? Which third party channels do you want to distribute your products? Do you want to be on Amazon?

Distribution channels are wide and varied with your online presence making up a significant portion of the awareness curve.


Responsibility -

What are your strategies for product sustainability, recycling and are your suppliers respectful of human rights and eco-friendly? What distribution channels are you using that are carbon-friendly and what recycling programs do you have in place?


In our August blog post, we highlighted an HBR article, including case studies from Nespresso and Google Nest. The case studies demonstrated an ecosystem competition that joined forces, in the spirit of Entraide or mutual aid. By aligning their core products with an extended group of previously unrelated products or services, each entity not only innovated themselves but helped other firms innovate as well. A broader and more successful value proposition became a reality through an ecosystem that wanted to support each other.


Relatable -

How does the brand relate to people’s lives? What are the core values you share with your customers? Do you have a similar view of the world? What stories can you share to create a desire for them to be in relation to you?

It’s a logical or natural association between two or more things; relevance of one to another; connection.

Do not wait to adapt. The ‘5 Rs of Relationing’ are the key to marketing innovation - which is the only sustainable way forward.

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