Foreplay starts in the morning.
I have a buddy who told me about a disagreement he had with his girlfriend.
The two of them weren’t getting along and hadn’t been nice to each other throughout the day. But after dinner was done and the dishes were put away, he started to feel amorous. Hoping the day would end better than it started, he went out of his way to apologize and be solicitous.
It didn’t sound like his change of heart was very sincere and his girlfriend didn’t fall for it. And even though he turned on the charm and tried being affectionate, his girlfriend called his bluff. She stopped his advances cold.
When he questioned her lack of interest she answered tersely:
I know what you’re thinking.
If you’re male, you’re probably thinking: “Ouch. Cold, dude.”
And if you’re a woman you’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “You go girl.”
But regardless of your gender, you’re probably also wondering why this anecdote is in a blog that purports to be about building brand value.
Salacious click bait? Au contraire my little cynic. It’s a valuable marketing lesson for you.
You see, my buddy’s verbal red light is not only an insight into his relationship, but a great way to think about your customer relationships. Because many companies believe it’s important to interact with their customers only when those customers show up to buy something.
Wal-Mart greeters don’t say hello until you walk into the store. The Whole Foods app uses geo-locating to offer you discounts and specials once you stroll their aisles. And the Nordstrom sales associate walks out from behind the cash register after you’ve made your purchase.
But great brands also know that the best way to build and maintain their customer relationships is to delight their clients when they’re not in the process of buying something. Metaphorically speaking, they know that foreplay – even the sale process type – starts in the morning.
This blog post you’re reading is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. I have been writing these marketing messages since 2007 and I send them out every single week at no charge to my readers. My simple goal is to be useful, valuable, and enjoyable. That way, I hope to build a relationship with you and the rest of my 86,000 readers. Of course I don’t expect that any direct business will come out of these essays on any given day. But over the decade that I’ve been sending these posts and building my list, the relationships this blog have facilitated have created all sorts of great opportunities for me.
Thanks to the foreplay this blog has created, I was offered my first opportunity to talk about branding on national TV. Since that time, I’ve been on TV more than 250 times.
Thanks to the people I’ve met through this blog, I have been invited to speak at conferences around the world, I’ve been offered opportunities to present my advertising agency to lots of great clients, and I was offered a book deal for All About Them.
Perhaps most telling, almost all the inbound email inquiries I get from people interested in hiring me or learning more about what I can do from them show up as replies to the week’s blog post. That means that people know they can find me through the blog. It also means this blog keeps me top of mind with my tribe until they are ready to respond to my virtual foreplay.
And unlike my buddy’s unfortunate evening, many of the interactions my foreplay facilitates conclude with very happy endings. Thinking about how to delight your customers when they’re not buying something can do the same thing for you, too.