Relationship Marketing Recipe

Relationship Marketing Recipe

In the spirit of becoming a social enterprise, we’re sharing the secret ingredients that make up really good Relationship Marketing strategies. There are three and you’ve probably heard them before…but not like this.

For the tldr crowd: it’s all about knowing your audience and your goals and putting them into motion. Bye and thanks for reading.

Now before the rest of you roll your eyes and scream “that’s not a secret!!!” to the heavens, we’re going to preemptively affirm that you’re right! 

Spilling the secret ingredients to Relationship Marketing isn’t earth-shattering news, but here’s what is new: The recipe for how to use them. 

Here’s our recipe for building excellent Relationship Marketing strategies:

  1. Weigh each ingredient equally. They are ALL important.
  2. Each ingredient is asking a question, You better have a good answer for each.
  3. Don’t even THINK about blending in tools or execution until you have these answers.

This isn’t one of those recipes where everything has to be precisely measured and mixed to make sure the dish comes out of the oven perfectly. It’s messy and guessy and much closer to art than science. But if you don’t follow the recipe, you’ll probably be disappointed by the results. Keep this in mind as you start cooking.

Secret Ingredient 1: Goals

Q: What are you trying to achieve? When your team gets derailed, what is the baseline purpose that you come back to?

Of the three ingredients, this one is the most obvious and the most inadvertently overlooked (probably because it’s so obvious).

But we’re not talking about regular old marketing strategies are we?

If you’re doing Relationship Marketing correctly, this is your one and only answer:

A: The goal of any Relationship Marketing strategy is to connect with individual people in a way that cultivates authentic, ongoing engagement.

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to get a person to click, buy, share, or sign up. Your ultimate goal is to connect with people and build a relationship with them. This makes it really easy to remove any component of a campaign that isn’t working toward this goal. Like so:

Does this email connect with our list in a way that cultivates authentic, ongoing engagement? Does it try to bring people closer to us? Or is it just a cleverly worded donation ask? If so, we better find some ways to connect so we don’t waste our time on ineffective emails.

Voila! So simple, yet it’s hiding in plain sight. Always go back to your WHY. You’ll find that your campaigns are beautifully aligned and working to build relationships with people.

Secret Ingredient 2: Audience

Q: Who are you talking to? What is their current relationship with your organization? What is the desired relationship?

We’re all marketing professionals here. We understand the importance of knowing your audience.

But, just like everything else about Relationship Marketing, we’re taking it a step further to consider not only who they are, but also their current connection to the organization AND where we want them to go next.

A: Identify the people you want to reach and consider their existing relationship with your organization before building a strategy that tries to bring them closer to you.

Creating campaigns that people actually respond to is easy when you are considerate of their perspective. Putting yourself in their shoes will help you design personalized and relevant messages that will resonate with your audience.

Again, this may be obvious, but we’re going to throw one last spicy twist to this ingredient.

Try as you might, you can’t manipulate or force people to be close to you. Just like any relationship, the other person is going to wise up to your games at some point, leaving you out in the cold with that sad box of chocolates.

Relationship Marketing is about creating authentic opportunities for people to choose to engage more. It’s their choice, always. Your marketing should make them want to choose you!

Secret Ingredient 3: Motion

Q: Are you done?

Huzzah, team! Your campaign is complete, you’ve grown your opt-in email list by 20%, social media engagement is through the roof, and you nailed your fundraising goal for that gala. High fives! Let’s go out for some celebratory sushi.

Is it over?

A: NO! Relationship Marketing is never done. 

By all means, go celebrate your victory, but come back on Monday ready to roll up your sleeves. A WEALTH of opportunities are ahead of you for this very successful campaign. Just start by asking questions:

  • What are you doing to retain those email subscribers? What’s your next message to them and how will it bring them even closer to you now that they have opted in?
  • Do those social media followers also donate? Attend events? Visit your website? If you’re a social enterprise, do they actually buy your product? How can you connect with them in a way that turns their virtual support into tangible support?
  • The gala raised a lot of money! How are you going to communicate the impact of what that will mean to donors? How do you continue to keep them engaged beyond this one annual event? 

We could go on and on.

The point we’re trying to make is that there is always something else to do. If you had designed your campaign as a part of a larger Relationship Marketing strategy, you’d have not only the answers but an execution plan in place.

We call this motion. It’s part of why we developed the Relationship Marketing Wheel to help visualize how organizations ATTRACT, CONNECT, ENGAGE, and INSPIRE others. It’s a wheel because it doesn’t stop moving. There is always something else you can do.

See The Wheel in action for yourself! 

This is basically the Brio approach in a nutshell. We come back to these three components with every single thing that we do for our clients and we have seen the results. But that’s a topic for a future #briowrites. 


With these Secret Ingredients and the recipe for how to use them, you can start cooking up Relationship Marketing strategies of your own!