These are strange days indeed. Frightening and interesting in equal measure. The frightening aspect will hopefully pass, and this writer does not wish to comment on that other than wishing the reader a safe passage. What is interesting, though, is observing how society and business are adapting and thinking about how we will exit this scenario and whether those adaptations born of necessity will survive.
What we are starting to see is a willingness from individuals and businesses to act for the greater good. From LVMH using its factories to produce hand sanitiser to Joe Wicks offering PE classes to children being home-schooled, there is, among the madness, a growing willingness to give back – and that is a good thing.
The notion of giving, not selling is something all businesses could learn from. Now, more than ever, they will need to reappraise what they do and conclude that they are in the relationship business and almost nothing else.
Customer relationship building as a discipline has been around for a long time, but in many organisations, it has been relegated to a data driven set of communiqués. Personalised, yet impersonal. Giving little and asking for much. And no, 10%-off vouchers really aren’t a ‘give’, they are a barely disguised ask for your money.
This week’s podcast featuring Paul Sloggett, Head of Member Engagement at the CIWM, and Thomas Moverley, Membership Director at the ISM, talked about the importance of giving to members and the strength of content, particularly print magazines in this context.
In an always ‘on’ digital world, where customers can get all they ask for wherever or whenever they want, there is incredible value in ‘giving’.
The magazine – for these membership organisations – is a living, breathing example of this. It provides complementary depth to digital snippets of news and in a time when much of the content we consume is commoditised ‘lean forward’, the printed magazine is ‘lean back’ luxury.
And when more of our reading time is done through a screen, there is value to be had in something to hold in the hand, keep and even collect. Both Paul and Thomas agreed that their respective magazines were perhaps one of the most valued benefits of membership in their organisations. They are the physical manifestation that sets the tone and personality of their brands.
It is also a critical medium to generate engagement and foster community. Forward thinking organisations realise the power of inviting members to contribute to and determine the editorial direction of their magazine. Telling member stories in depth to each other in print complements online discourse.
So, give before you ask. In fact, give, give, give before you ask. Treat customer relationships like any other. Build trust through conversation and drive conversation through content.
We are all in this together and giving to each other in these difficult times will surely change the nature of how we conduct ourselves in the future. Business needs to watch and learn.