It’s Relationships That Matter
CO&P Integrated Marketing has withstood the good, the bad and the ugly of the economy. But the best marketing tip I can share is, “Maintain your relationships and your friendships.” I went through a period of reading books about best practices in business and tried to separate my personal passions from my interactions with clients and employees—those are grave mistakes. What I learned is that it is the people in your work life that make it worthwhile.
In the toughest of times, these are the realities of business: Friends align with friends. Clients work with people they like and believe in. And the theory that ‘everyone is replaceable’ is just not true—your people matter.
CO&P has the gift of working with clients they have worked with at other companies off and on for 20+ years. That is a key point-they may not be at the same company. So think about this…when is the last time you checked on that client who was laid off to see where he or she landed? When is the last time you helped them network for that new opportunity? We have learned that in these difficult times, talented folks always land elsewhere. They remember those that help them. It is human nature. You too may need their help one day.
On the topic of ‘friends align with friends,’ it’s true. You often hear the phrase, “The decision was political.” That may be the case…or it may just be that if a client is going to choose between one company over the other and the offerings are not that unique, the friend of the prospect will rise to the top. Why did they choose the friend over you? I can now see many reasons why but here are some easy examples: When bad news must be shared such as a project needs revision, a budget is being trimmed, the client has a bad day…the trust has been established for communication. I will never agree that you cannot befriend a client. I believe relationship marketing—establishing a working friendship–never goes out of style. Modern day tools like social media allow for more of that revealing information of you are, as a person but, there is no replacement for taking time to ‘do lunch.’ These ongoing relationships are worth your time and money.
On a similar topic, your people matter. When CO&P—like the rest of the marketing industry– had been hit hard by the economy, I learned who my true friends are and I am eternally grateful. A team of folks rallied behind us, helped us reinvent ourselves, sell business, develop products and more. Clearly not all people are replaceable—certainly not these people. As long as they are willing to work with CO&P, they are a part of my team. You know, I have clients who are always looking for the next talented hero to hire and solve the problems of the business. I have learned firsthand that quite often, your team who has been there all along can often be your heroes. It is a matter of trust and mutual respect. You just need to give them a platform to communicate—and make the time to hear them. Brilliance may be next door.
Today, CO&P is a thriving, energetic company prospering beyond expectation. And I attribute it to God’s plan for us and the blessing of great relationships. Those clients I consider my friends, and those employees and partners I call ‘family,’ make each day worth fighting for. I will never again stray from the good old fashioned understanding that Relationships Matter.