Is your strategy selfish?

Sometimes strategy is about new ways of thinking about things or new directions. But sometimes it's about recognizing fundamental problems and mistakes that prevent good things from happening. Here's a blog from our archives...

One-way marketing is an unfortunate result of selfish thinking – and it's rampant. Is your company guilty of it?


I used to have a brother in law who never called unless he wanted something. Money. Legal help. A favor. It was always something. After a while, I began answering the phone, "Oh Hi, Bruce (his real name), what do you want?"

Most of the marketing I personally experience is one way. They never write to me unless they want something from me.

My last business bank was like that.  I've never had a visit in my office from them asking how I'm doing, how business is, and could they help in any way? They didn't offer suggestions or advice. But then it's only been 25 years. Perhaps I should be patient.

Another bank I deal with is the same way. The only mail I get contains offers. They want something from me. Interest on loans. Fees on transactions. Monthly service charges. They never offer me information about managing my finances or better account options. Choices about educating my children. Ways to invest more thoughtfully. Nothing... except offers to buy. Nor do they offer me more convenient hours. I have to get there by the time they close – usually 4:00. It doesn't matter to them that I usually work until at least 6:00. They don't know or don't care that time has shifted for most of America. Oh, they did start saying my name when they hand me my deposit receipt. That's a nice touch.

And yet in both cases – explain this to me – I know exactly who their ideal target customer is. Me. I meet or exceed every criteria. Yet they couldn't seem to care less.

Most companies – and most of the non-profits I watch – just ask and ask and take and take.

How healthy a relationship can that produce? Is it ignorance of the importance of connecting with your customer – of asking them what they need and want – and working to provide it?

Have you ever heard someone say, "There isn't any loyalty anymore."  Gee, no kidding. Could it be that loyalty was developed out of a give and take relationship – and that today it's near all take?

Don't marketers get it? Don't they know any better... or do they simply not care?

The most blatant example is unquestionably the telemarketing industry. We know exactly what they want the moment they call. There is no pretense of caring about us. They want something from us. And how do most of us respond? We tell them to get lost or just hang up.

Maybe that's why response rates are so low and slipping. Perhaps innately we know when the people we give our business to are only interested in their half of the relationship.

And perhaps their take-take-take approach is why politicians (normally unwilling to offend anyone) are willing to regulate and restrict telemarketers.

Maybe this one-way marketing is part of the reason why so many customers today have so little loyalty – and why shopping for price has become so pervasive.

Maybe that's our way of saying, "Hey, you don't care about me. I don't care about you."

Is your company or non-profit guilty of one-way marketing – where all you do is ask – giving nothing or as little as possible in return? Annual appeals. Marketing offers. Promotions. Hurry in... Introducing... New...

Maybe its time to think about how to help, serve, inform, or add to the life of your customers – as well as sell them.

Carl Francis

From our archives