The ways of the world: Free stuff, relationships, and a trip up the trust (branding) ladder

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trust
Trust: Why does it seem to come naturally at times, and at others, seems really difficult to achieve?
trust
Trust: Why does it seem to come naturally at times, and at others, seems really difficult to achieve?

Yesterday, a person with increasing prominence within the construction marketing community phoned me. Phone calls (outside of horrendous telemarketing calls by shills for so-called investment advisors) are rare these days; and rarer on a holiday Monday in Canada (the caller was from the US.)

I brushed the caller off with one of the coldest responses you could imagine.

After the call, I had mixed emotions. “The guy was playing me as a free gift-giving sucker,” I thought. Then, in the next mind-breath: “You idiot. He’s a person of influence and there is an opportunity for mutually beneficial project co-ordination. And, in any case, it doesn’t take much effort to be nice to people, regardless of who they are.”

Later last night, I sent the individual an apologetic email and suggested a specific initiative where we could both benefit.

He will be quite right (and reasonable) to discard my email. Heck, there are enough insensitive snobs in the world — who needs to work with another one?

Regardless, I truly respect this marketer, for his ability to ladder free stuff and soft-entry relationship building content to much more expensive services, along the way (and this is interesting) fuelling his marketing/relationship-building services with resources for which the future client needs to pay, and which are highly automated (in other words, he doesn’t need to spend much time as his clients pay for his marketing costs.)

You only get this marketer’s real-time in these circumstances: (a) at the outset, as he reaches out to centers-of-influence to spread the word about his strategy/content; (b) in brief snippets as you prepare to do business with him and (c) when you are a full-fledged (and priced) consulting client.

If you are selfish and purely rational economically, you’ll forgo the last stage and possibly the medium-paid stuff, and take all the free stuff you can get. But some people will pay for the works. If they work at it, and follow the guidelines he provides (and they have an otherwise viable business — I don’t see this stuff working so well for pure start-ups) — they may receive significant incremental value.

Along the way, I shared some of this successful marketer’s ideas with another individual, who also has proven to be wise in the world with online marketing methodologies. Unlike the first person, I’ve had the opportunity to meet the second individual several times, at Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) conferences, and the trust started to build early before we even contemplated ways to do business.

I created a marketing/webinar initiative, and he immediately agreed to participate and (without hesitation) suggested that I retain all the revenue from the event.

It proved profitable. So I owe him favors. Yet every time I give him something, he seems to be able to give me something more valuable in return — in this case, yesterday, a link to an online repository of really good free marketing resources where the operator practices a wonderfully soft-selling methodology.

Ahh, that’s it. Trust. Genuine relationship-building branding success. Marketer one — the guy I brushed off yesterday — seemed to be pushing too hard, and his self-serving agenda seemed too obvious, and he really wasn’t offering anything that could turn into money (business) for me. And, while we had been introduced by people I knew, we were working over the phone without the connection and community that arises from face-to-face interaction.

Marketer two has learned and successfully implemented the “give” — Maybe he knows I am a center-of-influence, maybe it is the mutual relationships on a personal and association level — but I never feel he has anything to push or sell on me (and personally I would have no need for his services, anyways.)

So I’m rational. I try to return the favor (principle of reciprocity). And what does he do: He gives me even more stuff — not time-consuming, stressful or relationship-draining activities; just more useful information.

Still, I was wrong to brush off the first marketer. He has good material, which he indeed shared through a confidential evaluation process. I have much to learn.

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