It’s All About Relationships

Brad Friedman President, The Friedman Group, LLC

Posted on March 27th 2012

It’s All About Relationships

I’ve been reflecting on the history of marketing and my continuing struggle with the phrase Return On Investment (ROI) as it pertains to marketing. The world of marketing has changed. Over the past several years social media has changed the way every business is thinking about marketing. Social media hasn’t just affected marketing.

    • It’s how we get our news and weather reports.
    • It’s how our politicians speak to us.
    • It’s how we share our lives with family and friends. It’s become an important tool for us to manage our relationships.

Though budgets still don’t seem to be growing, businesses are spending more money on social media marketing and less money on the types of marketing they have always done. Bloggers, tweeters, pinners and status updaters have taken away the control businesses once had over their corporate messages.

Today’s businesses have been forced to be on the defensive when it comes to social media marketing. They can certainly control the first message, but after that, it’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen next. Smart businesses understand this and spend time and money developing a strategy and a Response Policy. Then, they hire people to use various tools so they can manage their presence and “Listen” to what’s being said about them and respond quickly and in a thoughtful manner as dictated by the Response Policy.

Timing has also been forever changed. There was a time when politicians, police chiefs and others timed their announcements so they could make the evening news. Today, news is spread 24/7/365 and if you’re waiting to tell people on the evening news nearly everyone will have already heard. In this social media world, the lack of a Response Policy can lead to a business shutting its doors. More often than not, you’ll have very little time to manage a situation and get your side of the story out, before it’s too late.

Still, no matter what thoughts I have about the state of marketing, I continue to return to the thought it’s all about relationships. Every product or service purchased today is the result of a relationship. It may be a relationship between the consumer and the business. Or, it may be between the consumer and the service provider. But it may also be a relationship between the consumer and her 100 friends on Yelp or her many millions of friends on Facebook.

If I am correct, are we going to see a shift in what marketers consider when they are trying to justify the ROI of a particular marketing plan? Are we going to see a continued increase in the creation and implementation of customer relationship management solutions? Or, are we going to see businesses continue to shy away from the one tool in their marketing shed that can help them stay in business. In his video Social Media Revolution 3 Eric Qualman writes, “The ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years.”

Brian Solis, in his book Engage! says:

Social media has forever changed the way businesses and customers communicate and also the way customers make their decisions. With networks like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, anyone can now find and connect with others who share similar interests and goals — creating communities that shape the perception of brands.

Our metrics have to change. Businesses have to consider their relationships with consumers in order to measure their success. They have to build the number of relationships they have and then successfully manage those relationships. They have to be able to gauge the quality of those relationships to really measure their success. Relying on large numbers of relationships is not going to be the end all. It will be the quality of those relationships that counts.

Max De Pree, the former CEO of Henry Miller, Inc., wrote The Art of Leadership and said:

We talk about the quality of product and service. What about the quality of our relationships and the quality of our communications and the quality of our promises to each other?

We have learned to communicate over the Internet, through email, texting, Skype, Face Time, Hang Outs and who knows what else. Yet, our world has become less personal and the quality of our relationships has become more important than ever. More than ever, it will be the strength and quality of our relationships with those who consume our products and services that will determine whether our business is able to keep its doors open.

Is your business using social media to build and develop relationships with your consumers? How are you measuring the success of these efforts?



Brad Friedman

President, The Friedman Group, LLC

Brad Friedman is a “Recovering Attorney” living in Denver, Colorado. In 2010, Mr. Friedman parlayed his passion for technology and his business, legal and marketing savvy into the creation of The Friedman Group, LLC. Brad has developed a group of highly skilled people to work with individuals and businesses to develop strategies that enhance their online presence and engage clients, prospects and referral sources through the power of inbound and social media marketing.

See Full Profile >


Lorin Watson
Posted on April 4th 2012 at 5:44PM

How can social media be applied in the government space most effectively? Also, how should ROI be measured by government institutions? I agree that relationships are key to the success of any organization, especially between government agencies and their constituents. But, the government isn't necessarily concerned with sales or propping up their bottom line. How else should social media ROI be measured?  

Marcel Wiedenbrugge
Posted on May 4th 2012 at 11:36AM

In my opinion company performance (still) depends on classical business metrics such as:

- Relative market share

- Customer retention

- Customer loyalty 

- Customer refererral

- Customer migrations (cross sell, up sell, churn, defection / attrition)

- Customer service (FTR, FCR, response ratios) 

- Sales vs. marketing cost vs profitability

- Product value

Obviously, these metrics are related to each other (so a holistic approach is required). 

Simply put, if your company performs better than your competitors, then you must do something better, which boils down to understanding what your customers and sales channels expect from you i.e. how well you consistently align customer expectations / market demand / terms & conditions to products, services and performance. Listen to your customers and understand what they like, do not like, what they like to see different about your products and services, etc.

With regard to social media. For new customers, simply ask your customers what made them to buy from you and which communication channels do they use to make their buying decision. Who are the opinion leaders in your line of business and which channels do they use to spread (your) message?

Each company needs to find out via which channels customers prefer to communicate with you in terms of information, news, new / existing products, etc. Depending on that, you will know which channels might be more or less important to you. Experiment a little bit with the social media mix and relate it to (profitable) sales (= measure the results).

Marcel Wiedenbrugge /