Relationship Marketing

By Bryan Sidoni

I’ve never served in the armed forces but I’ve studied their customs as an interested observer and I often find myself applying military inspirations to businesses circumstances.

Around Memorial Day I was emailed a link to a riveting account of heroism, leadership and humility that, as I’m prone to do, got me thinking about how such extraordinary lessons relate to my world, or in this case, a frenzied and quickly shifting modern marketing age that can so often marginalize the people we work with, work for, or hope to work with as we pursue our business interests.

Blurring the lines of extraordinary military service and marketing, or any business for that matter, is a stretch. I know this. What’s less of a stretch is relating their values to similar pitfalls we can often find ourselves in when going through the motions too quickly and ignoring the basic tenets of courtesy and good sense in our pursuits of new business, revenue, quotas, competition, or any number of reasons we inadvertently allow the breakdown of our relationships, both in our own offices and with our business partnerships.

The author of that piece went on to offer the lessons he learned that I think we can all find in our everyday work lives. Here are a few I’d like to share.

1. Be cautious of labels.

The names and attributes we place on people to help us define our relationship to them can bind our potential. If we dispel our preconceived notions we can develop assets where they didn’t exist before.

In Marketing: Manager, Salesman, Secretary, Vice President, Intern…these mean different things to different people. Put the human before the label. It will break down walls and open up communications and operational efficiencies.  

2. Take time to know your people.

Our professional lives are busy and often blurred with names and faces of people that can be too convenient to forget, or worse, ignore. That’s no excuse for not knowing the people you work with. 

In Marketing: Make the effort to engage people you work with to learn about, and from them. No project of any value to your organization is done single-handedly. You shouldn’t be a stranger to those who help get things done, even if you can’t see it while it’s happening.

3. Just be courteous. JBC.

Some very good people in my life bestowed this jewel on me and I scold myself if I forget to practice it. Courtesy makes a difference, regardless of your rank or status.

In Marketing: Treat the gatekeeper the way you’d treat the decision maker. Treat the new associate the way you’d treat a senior exec. Or more succinctly, be nice to those you meet on the way up, they’re the same folks you’ll meet on the way down. You never know who could end up influencing the decisions and actions that impact you. 

4. Be humble.

Today’s cultural icons, athletes and entertainers have re-calibrated the meter to reflect self-aggrandizement and celebration as a virtue of success and leadership. What could be further from the truth? Real leaders lead by example and are too busy back at work to celebrate past heroics. There’s nobility in humility. 

In Marketing: Avoid the trap of getting caught reveling in, or resting on your laurels. Today’s big score is tomorrow’s renewed expectations. Know your role, perform your duty and feed your ego with the knowledge that a job well done is its own reward. Be more Bill Crawford, less Kanye West.  

5. No job is beneath you.

Ask yourself, is there a job in your field that’s beneath your dignity? Take an honest assessment. What you find in the answer could either be a window to discovering the relationships and obstacles that are holding you back, or the holistic perspective that’s enabling you to advance forward.

In Marketing: Be ubiquitous.You don’t have to be great at everything, but you should be willing to try to round out your skill set where possible, however menial or sophisticated you perceive the task to be. The more you know the more you’ll grow. Otherwise you may just be setting yourself up to settle for your limitations.   

That’s all I got for now. Thanks for reading.   

Read the Article on Army Master Sergeant William J. Crawford (Ret.) 

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