In the age of brute force marketing, the goal was attention. “Capture eyeballs.” “Cut through the clutter.” The idea was that if you captured someone’s attention enough times with your clever advertising message, you would automatically earn their business.
As marketers got more sophisticated, they began to realize that simple attention was not enough. We heard about things like mindshare, purchase intent and loyalty.
These are all fine, but they can be fleeting. Purchase intent one week doesn’t automatically lead to purchase intent the next week, if a competitor offers a better sale price or promotion. And loyalty can evaporate quickly, if the next company offers better incentives.
Far more sturdy, far more lasting, is when a customer stops thinking of you or your company as “Them,” and begins to think of her and you together as “We.” When a customer invites you into the 1st person with her, as “We,” you have entered a realm that attention, 2-for-1 promotions and “Your 10th pizza free” programs can’t match.
This is what it means to be in a relationship with a customer: When you stop being “Them,” and you start being “We.”