Transactional engagments vs. Relationship building

I think short-sightedness comes naturally to almost all of us. That's because, one, the future's hard to fathom and two, now's got enough problems to keep us all occupied. Yet there's one engagement where it becomes a necessity to mind the future. And that's a consumer engagement.

Every consumer brings with him potential for value to us, in the future. The present 's important in terms of ensuring a successful sale. Our mindfulness of the future is what gets us repeat sales. It easy to picture future sales, if the product category in question is one where the frequency of purchase is high, with short bursts of time separating a sale from another. But what if the marketer can see almost only one transaction that he engages in, with consumers? Should relationships then be abandoned because there wouldn't be any more purchases to follow?

The answer is No. Marketers must be able to see value accrual from a consumer, not just from a sales transaction point of view, but also from other forms of value that can be derived. Take for example a higher education institution. In all probability, the student may study just a single a program at the institution. Does that mean the engagement should be seen only as transactional? Of course, not. A graduate still can contribute to value to the institution. Maybe its a grant that he supports at the institution once he tastes success at business. Maybe he will come back to recruit subsequent graduates to join his business firm. Maybe its a good word that he puts in that convinces a student to sign up to a course at the institution. The modes of value that accrue from graduated students are varied. And so everyone institution must build relationships with their student consumers and not treat them as transactional engagements.

Every consumer engagement brings with it a potential for future value. Smart marketers are ones who recognise this, and so focus on going beyond transactions to building relationships.


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