When it Comes to Consumer Relationships, Don’t be”That Guy”

As humans, we are involved in a multitude of relationships with many different people, each varying in strength based on current and past interactions. Just about all of us have had an experience with a specific person that started out as an organic friendship…one that was mutually beneficial and fun. Through friendly conversations and interactions the relationship grew as both sides cared and respected each other. Then, due to a new job or some other life event, the relationship gravitated from an ongoing, shared conversation about commonalities to one leaning heavily to one side. Conversations that used to be fun and engaging are now a stream of content exclusively for self-promotion. Now we have to deal with “that guy” on social media and in our inbox and voicemail.

The first few times you let it slide based on your past experiences. You just ‘try to be nice’, but ultimately the friendship erodes quickly when the value of the relationship is so heavily one-sided.

Hey advertisers, guess what? We’re that guy.

We pop up out of nowhere on our consumers’ news feeds, on the sides of their websites and at the beginning of their videos asking for something, namely, a share of their wallets. We stalk them around from place to place because they stopped in for a quick visit. We’ve lost sight of what real relationships with our consumers look like. Instead of having fun interactions with them that we both enjoy, we’ve made the conversation all about us promoting ourselves to them…whether they like it or not.

At first, our consumers might have thought it was okay for us to only come around when we wanted them to buy something. They might have felt some semblance of loyalty to us because of how our relationship used to be. Then, as more and more of us started to do it more and more often, they began to feel used and unappreciated. So they stopped answering our calls, reading our emails and started blocking our content (30% of millennials have an ad blocker and another 15% say they wish they did).

How can we become “the guy”.

  1. Stop only showing up when you want something. One of the main traits exhibited by that guy is that he’s never around unless he needs something from you. You could go months without even seeing a social media post from him when all of the sudden he is there with a ‘tap on the shoulder’ or an ‘outstretched hand’. To avoid being like him, start popping in just to say “hi” every once in awhile and be interested in hearing from your consumers instead of just selling to them.
  2. Build a meaningful relationship with them. That guy may think he is providing value in your relationship. He provides lots of insightful information and entertaining content. But are we providing consumers with enough value (content) to overcome interrupting and manipulating them whenever and wherever they go? We need to learn about what they like for the sake of knowing them (like friends do), not for the sake of using it to target them.
  3. Be helpful. When is the last time that guy did something for you? It’s probably hard to think of a time, or if it is, you probably felt like he had ulterior motives. Go out of your way to show your consumers that you care about them and not just their wallets.

Loyalty is a two-way street.

Relationships throughout all contexts of life are give and take. If all we do is take from our consumers (their time, their attention, and their money), we become that guy we ourselves dread seeing. If we invest in our relationships with our consumers like we do our friendships, and start giving back to them in meaningful ways, they’ll be a little more likely to read our posts, watch our videos, share our stories, and think of us first when they’re making a purchase decision.