How Relationships Improve Sales (post from Chris Brogan)

How Relationships Improve SalesJanuary 2, 2010 · Comments

glynne soaps I was in the shower yesterday morning and found myself thinking, “we’re almost out of Glynne soaps.” Now, what’s weird about this is that Glynne soaps sent me review products last summer, and it was good, but let’s think about it. It’s soap. I can buy soap very easily at my grocery store, where I go all the time. Why should I have Glynne Soaps in my mind? Why should I buy them?


Relationships Help Sell

It doesn’t hurt that the product is really good, but what made them come to mind was all the times we’ve chatted on Twitter, and/or seeing their social media conversations unfurl on Facebook and other platforms. They’re friendly. They’re part of the story. They’re here.

It’s not enough, obviously. Being around and chatting with me on Twitter doesn’t help if your product stinks. But here’s where it helped: when I realized that I was almost out of soap, they were top of mind. 

How Do You Stay There?

I think this is the meat of most marketing. How do you stay top of mind with your customer? Let’s stick with soap. I’ll presume you use it daily (or mostly daily), but it’s not something that you think about.

In the old days, advertisers kept a brand top of mind by repeatedly pushing ads into our vision. Axe spends tons and tons convincing me that their products will make women go wild if I use them. Dove tells you that you’ll be very beautiful if you use them. Soap, of all products, is well known for working hard on staying top of mind. Remember the “soap” in “soap operas?”

To stay top of mind in the modern space, I think you have to be there. You have to be one of us. At least part of it is that. I can’t see Ford throwing away their campaigns and just count on Scott Monty to build relationships (though he’s definitely wearing the Ford colors in a powerful way). But it has to be both. 

The Difference Might Be the “Both”

If you’re Glynne Soaps, you can’t pay for full spread magazine ads and soap operas. You can spend time on social platforms meeting people, talking to them about their stuff (and not just soap). Maybe you don’t pick up the ad campaign for a while, but that would be at an inflection point.

If you’re big, you do both. Ads alone don’t cut it. If you’re Pepsi, you maybe do the campaign, but you also put the humans in the game (like Bonin Bough and team).

It depends on the product, I believe. There are “commodity” transactions where I don’t care. But the other thing is, we all have different opinions on what we care about or don’t. For instance, I don’t really care who changes the oil in my car, but because of my conversations with Sullivan Tire on Twitter, that’s where I’ll probably go because they’re top of mind. 

What Can We Do?

I think it’s a choice. I think that if you’re a bigger brand, you have more to think about. If you’re a smaller brand, this almost feels like a “must” at this point, trying out social media conversation channels. You might not get the mix right. You might have to experiment until you find what gets people to respond and take action in a relationship-minded way. But without starting to experiment, you won’t find it.

Will soap companies that make relationships on Twitter clean up? I’ve got a hunch they’ll do better than not. But is it all just a matter of working us up into a good lather? I don’t think so.

Start by observing other brands in other verticals and how they’re getting it done. Then experiment. Try making relationships before trying to sell. And be ready to apologize. You will likely make mistakes. But I think there’s some gold in this, done right.

Want some people to observe? On Twitter, check out:


And maybe you. Are you a smaller brand building relationships one at a time? Brag it up in the Twitter feed.

About Gayle

Gayle is a Social Media Enthusiast and Consultant with Biz Buzz Social Media Marketing; co-owner of Glynne's Soaps; a dalmatian rescuer; genealogist and member of the Daughters of the Revolution (DAR) and of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC); a Cubs Fanatic; hopeful bagpiper; purveyor of positive; and a curious seeker of life.
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