You Can’t Automate Relationship Building

This month, my wife and I are celebrating our one year anniversary of closing on our first home. To be honest, we didn’t even realize it had been a year since closing but were reminded by a congratulatory card mailed to us from our mortgage agency. Now you might think this was a generous and kind gesture; one not even your closest family and friends would do. But think again.

Upon opening the card I realized it was rubber stamped, generic and part of the mortgage agency’s marketing campaign. The proof was found on the back of the card. There I found the marketing company’s name advertising their services to others. When I read more about the marketing company and the services they offer, it was clear that my mortgage company wasn’t even responsible for sending the card to me at all.

What a shame. Once again marketers ruin a good thing.

As a marketer, this disgusts me. We ruin everything. Email. Facebook. YouTube. Pretty much everything. Why does marketing have to be so evasive? Why does marketing have to be so aggressive and conniving?

I believe the best type of marketing is the kind that is genuine and provides value to an audience. When marketing is done correctly, you don’t even consider it marketing.

So when my wife and I received a fake congratulatory card, I felt the opposite of what the mortgage company intended me to feel. I felt like they thought I was stupid; like I would actually think they thought of us on this momentous occasion. Instead I felt scammed, insulted and ashamed to call myself a marketer. If I called the mortgage agency up right now, they would have no idea who we were and when we bought our house. Yet, they would have us believe that they were actually thinking of us enough a year after we bought our home to send a card.

The point of my rant is this…

There are no short cuts in building genuine relationships, online or off. You can’t automate or outsource relationship building. In my line of work I see companies trying to do this all the time. They hire agencies to build communities for their brand to spew advertising messages to day and night.

You can’t hire someone to develop your personal friendships and you can’t hire someone to build a relationship with your customers. Same is true for parents. You can’t hire a nanny to raise your kids for you and then expect them to respect you as their parents. It just doesn’t work that way.

Relationship building is hard work. It is extremely time consuming and challenging. It involves personal sacrifice and service to others. This is why social capital is one of the greatest assets you have and should guard and nurture it at all costs.

To companies thinking about automating relationships with their customers – think again. Your customers aren’t stupid; they know a rubber stamped marketing piece when they see one. Take the time to hand write a card and send it yourself. It will make a far greater impact.

Photo Credit: mpclemens

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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