Over the years I've been given the opportunity to take part in many cool initiatives and projects working with brands.
My writing, speaking and knowledge has taken me on trips all over this country and beyond, allowed me to play with tons of cool gear and make some great friends along the way.
I ran my own agency and have worked on numerous award winning campaigns for companies both big and small. As the author of a best-selling book on marketing, I believe I've earned the right to say I know a thing or two about how to be successful in media.
But, I've been noodling over something for several weeks now and trying to pull my thoughts together around it.
To put it bluntly, it bothers me that brand after brand I come in contact with seems to be very eager to show me a good time around a single project, but they never want to commit to anything long term.
They want to date, but they certainly don't want a relationship.
I held off on writing this post because I wanted to talk to others to see if it was just me over analyzing the world around me. Time and time again I got confirmation that I wasn't and that other people are seeing this happen all the time.
The general formula seems to be that a company will create an event/junket/program that involves online personalities. They bring us together or send us out something and for a set amount of time they get us talking, creating and sharing about them. It all comes to an end and then nothing. Silence....
I only do business with companies I'm interested in for one reason or another. I've turned down plenty of opportunities that just were not a fit for me. If I say yes, it is because I see something more there and want to start building a relationship.
But, I wonder if I'm the only one thinking this because most times I don't see any long term engagement in the future. I mean one night stands are fun, but after a while most people crave something a bit more meaningful. That is where I'm at right now.
Once we've gone through that dating period, I expect (and hope) that the company will continue to share news with me. Tell me about initiatives they have going on, new product announcements and anything else they have that I might be interested in. Since we've already become connected they've earned the right to do that. Their PR departments should love this because I'm saying we've moved beyond the pitch, I want to hear about everything they have going on.
There is also a level of loyalty I feel after taking part in something with any brand. If we had an ongoing relationship then I'd never consider working with their competitors, but again if we are only dating it makes things harder.
Amtrak stepping up and doing a long term sponsorship with me gave me faith that there are brands out there that understand the importance of long term relationships. Yes, a sponsorship is different than a relationship, but I mention it because it shows that they want something more than a quick hit.
Please, let me make it clear that this has nothing to do with dollars, but more about good old fashion relationships. I can think of numerous companies that I've tried to form ones with after big events and yet there are only two that have really made it happen. That seems like a lot of wasted marketing dollars without the return that is just waiting to be made.
I'm sure a lot of this has to do with the high turnover rate of individuals and agencies working with brands. As soon as you get to know someone, they may no longer be there. But, the smart company is going to make sure that multiple people know who the friends are so that this doesn't happen.
Brands, please think about this the next time you plan an event or campaign. We want to work with you and we'd love to do it on an ongoing basis. If you stop thinking only about the short term and begin planning for the long term, amazing things will happen.
Sure, you can wine and dine us and show us a great time. We love the flattery and it makes us feel good. But, then how about calling us back and returning our e-mails when we try to check in just to see how things are going. The world may have dubbed this all social media, but it could have just as easily been called relationship media.
Who is ready to commit?