If you do much searching around online for marketing or creative services, you will by now have noticed that ‘relationship based’ marketing services are increasingly common. The words sound good together. They may even give you a momentary warm fuzzy feeling, but what do they really mean?
Obviously, since I’ve made relationship based creative services a main part of what I’m offering, I think there is real value in the idea. Unfortunately, it’s easy to feel cynical in the context of how it’s often employed. I’ve worked in the past with firms that advertise ‘relationship based’ services that in practice, seemed lacking. It was impossible to get regular responses and contact from account managers, it was difficult to problem solve and work as a team, and it was stressful to know how any project was coming along at any given time. The more I talked to friends and business owners, the more I heard a similar story. So what’s going on?
Maybe as a way to exorcise some of those demons, I decided to try to build a better mousetrap. Or at least a friendlier mousetrap. Or a better analogy for a thing to build.
A Better Way Forward
When I promote relationship based marketing services, I try to think of every part of my business as serving a human being. When I set up a meeting, I’m taking valuable time from someone I care about. I hate seeing a marketing piece shoehorned into someone’s branding. It doesn’t interest me to create unnecessary content, because I think it trades short-term productivity for lasting brand quality.
Even from a purely mercenary perspective, it doesn’t make sense to force a project that doesn’t serve someone’s needs. At best you’ll be trading a possible referral and future work for one project that will probably be disliked and risk losing your customer. Gross.
So in an effort to be not gross, I decided to make one of my core values the idea that I want to build relationships first. Even if that means recommending you forego my services for the time being. I’d rather work regularly for a few people I’m really invested in than spread myself so thin that my standard of work suffers. And I’m sure no one sets out do subpar work. I believe even my worst prior experiences were well intentioned. Hopefully putting all this in writing and working in relationships will allow me to be accountable to this vision. I also hope if you’re reading this, it will inspire you to do the same.