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Last week I introduced a batch of new students to marketing and we discussed the notion that marketing is:

Building satisfying relationships




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Everything else is just fluff and tactics to accomplish this 1 goal.building satisfying relationships

Of course, students were amazed that this was all there was to marketing and students from Finance and Accounting had a particularly difficult time with the notion that relationships matter when they aren’t expressed on your financial statements.

Maybe your organization questions why scarce resources are spent on such an ephemeral task as building satisfying relationships. So let’s take a look at why relationships matter.


First, let’s be clear that we’re talking about relationships with all types of stakeholders:

  • Stockholders
  • Suppliers
  • Vendors
  • Customers
  • Employees — internal customers
  • Society

Now, let’s talk about building satisfying relationships with each stakeholder.


Take a look at your organization’s most recent income statement. I’ll wait while you dig it out. Ready?

Now, show me where on that statement I can find the value of your stock price? Can’t find it? That’s because, unless you floated an initial public offering lately, you’re not likely to find any income from your own stock on your income statement.

So, why do you run the company as if these are the only stakeholders?


Ever hear the expression

you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?

Now, do you get why suppliers matter?

Plus, suppliers have a vested interest in your success so they’re your best supporter — coming up with money-saving ideas and innovative products.


Another great partner whose success is tied to yours.


Duh, isn’t that obvious. You NEED customers — it’s their endorsement you see flow to the bottom line of that income statement we viewed earlier. Customer is the reason for an organization’s existence and it’s a major source of operating capital.

Realize it’s 5 times cheaper to keep an existing customer than replace them and you’ll see how valuable these relationships are to your business.


We call employees internal customers to represent their importance in your firm’s success.


We’re all citizens of this planet and your business impacts everyone whether they’re customers or not.

Building satisfying relationships in the digital age

Building satisfying relationships in the digital age is much the same as it’s always been — the tools are just different And, it’s no secret — I built these tips from those shared on INC.

Be trustworthy

Openly share information and keep your promises. Be truthful in all your business dealings. Use sustainable business practices to tread lightly on our environment, pay living wages, support local businesses and causes, and in general act as a good corporate citizen.

Recognize that digital marketing is about “them” not “you”

I always advocate the 90/10 mix of talking about them versus talking about yourself. Focus on your stakeholders and you’ll build satisfying relationships. For instance, I have a client who blogs about the social good done by perspective clients. You could also help spread the word about what vendors and suppliers are doing.

Monitor your brand

Don’t settle for simple sentiment analysis; understand problems and challenges stakeholders face.

Monitor mentions of your brand and RESPOND quickly when stakeholders post a question or concern. And, take responsibility. Don’t shift blame and don’t argue. Own the problem and FIX IT.

And, be proactive. If you notice some concerns developing — step in and provide solutions. Don’t wait for 1 customer complaint to become a million. Bad news travels fast — commonly 5X faster than good. So complaints are bound to escalate and 1 bad apple CAN spoil the whole bunch. Treat each stakeholder as if they were the most important to your firm.

Provide value to stakeholders

Create and curate content that provides value to your stakeholders. Don’t just talk about yourself in your digital communications, give stakeholders a reason to engage with your brand by helping them.

Not only should your digital marketing help stakeholders, it should show how much you value them. For instance, thank folks who amplify your content by “Liking” and sharing it. Thank them for their loyalty and support — don’t just accept it.

Recognize the contributions of employees, suppliers, and vendors, but also recognize them as people first. Treat them with respect and reward them with your attention and praise. Give stakeholder’s a voice in your business.

Need help?

Whether you need a complete content marketing strategy, some help with Adwords, or some consulting to optimize your existing social media marketing, we can fill your digital marketing funnel. We can help you do your own social media marketing better or do it for you with our community managers, strategists, and account executives. You can request a FREE introductory meeting or sign up for my email newsletter to learn more about social media marketing.