Monday morning, en route to catch a pre-dawn flight to Cincinnati, as I hovered between coffee induced alertness and the fog of sleep deprivation, it dawned on me that a great metaphor for old marketing versus new relationship economy communication is the death of the "Grand Gesture".
You know what I mean; the Grand Gesture is represented by the roses you send on Valentines Day or the present you buy on holidays or anniversaries to make up for all the times you did not hold your weight in a relationship. We have all been either on the giving or receiving end of such gestures and we know that they don't make up for consistent listening and support. The mark of a deep relationship is being there consistently - even when it is not convenient. It is often about putting the other person first.
The Grand Gesture is all about the "gesturer" and not at all about the receiver. The "gesturer" is thinking only about themselves, is being reactive and hoping it makes up for lack of attention or a big mistake. Well, the truth is, it never really does.
The company equivalent of the Grand Gesture can take many forms - a major press announcement or briefing, a product/feature launch, a special price break or an insufficient rebate when there has been a screw-up. Those are all well and good but if they are not backed up with taking out the trash at 2am, staying up late when I am sick and listening to me bitch late at night - well then those grand gestures don't add up to much. It is the small consistent gestures that are often inconvenient that make up the core of a trusted relationship.
Companies need to understand that punctuating bad behavior with the occasional grand gesture just is not going to cut it anymore. We demand more.
That's why I am really excited to participate in Satisfaction's upcoming Customer Service is the New Marketing" conference. The gang at Satisfaction understand that the future is about consistency and respect and "grand gestures" can't make up for consistently great customer service. They have assembled a great group of experts on community and customer service --folks who really live the mantra of putting the customer first.
I'll be leading a round table on the important first step - the cultural shift required to succeed in the relationship economy.
If you are interested in attending I've got a special 25% discount for
anyone I send along. So register here or enter the PANL discount code when registering. I look forward to seeing you there.
[check out Paulo's other photos on flickr]