Gratitude-based Marketing


Since the mid-1900s, most of the world has been involved in what is commonly referred to as “The Industrial Revolution”. Essentially, this is the ability to make goods and services at an increasingly lower cost of production and to penetrate an increasing number of markets. And that’s fine.

In the 1980s, companies started to move away from an emphasis on production getting involved with marketing; the customer is king. This, too, is fine. But up to a point. And that point is viewing marketing as an extension of production. To be clear, The Industrial Revolution has so marked our way of thinking that our view of marketing is conditioned by those same processes. For example, when looking at many web-based businesses we tend to ask “What is your cost of customer acquisition?”, or “What is the Return on Investment on that campaign?”. And we all take this approach as valid. But is it?

In previous articles, as with clients, in the ROKC method  we always split the business processes into two categories, productive and consumptive, with an emphasis on how each and every process provides a Return On Key Component, ROKC. We stand by this approach but it is important to add a nuance to the consumptive part. Although consumptive processes need to maximize the ROKC for the company, the transaction is not complete unless the company’s product or service helps the client maximize their own ROKC. This means that by design the client is part of the consumptive process.

By not viewing the client as outside the company, the ROKC method stimulates leaders to move away from the old “zero-sum-game” mentality wherein both sides “take” from one another to a more inclusive form of reflection in which one party “give” and the other “receives”. To be precise, it is initially the company who gives and the customer who receives but in a second step it is the reverse, the customer gives and the company receives. This approach helps us move away from the production-centric frame of mind most commonly used to one focusing on the relationship the transaction creates between the parties.

Of course it is difficult – if not impossible – to control the way a customer receives your goods or services but it is possible to develop a marketing program in which the company focuses on instilling a sense of gratitude in their customers. For example, when building an app or website the user interface is built with the objective of insuring an excellent user experience. Many do this quite successfully and the user expects this. However, is this enough to create engagement? The answer is usually “No”. By building a user interface which leaves a customer feeling grateful for the experience many customers will seek to engage with the company. The customer will move from only providing feedback when things go wrong to doing so when things go right. The relationship become a virtuous cycle that can go far beyond that initial customer contact to their whole community bringing in more business.

Through gratitude marketing the ROI on your marketing operations are no longer calculated in terms of the number of sales transactions you have with a customer, it includes the new customers they bring in; their feedback on the product or service; faster product or service development; faster time to market; lower risk of failure; fewer customer service calls; fewer returns to process; and so on. Go on, give it try. It can’t hurt.