Relationship Marketing

Relationship Marketing

These two words are all over our website and all we ever talk about when asked about our business. Let’s take some time to define Relationship Marketing and apply our methodology.

First let’s clarify the definition of traditional Marketing so we can see how Relationship Marketing is different.


You Need Relationship Marketing
We're talking to you, nonprofits and social enterprises.

TRADITIONAL MARKETING (via esteemed Seth Godin)

Marketing is about driving a target audience to take action. The goal is to get a person to click, to donate, to purchase or to share.


Relationship Marketing is about driving a target audience to take multiple actions in order to cultivate an ongoing connection. The goal is to build loyalty in a way that gets a person who regularly clicks, donates, purchases, and shares.

The difference is obvious. Relationship Marketing is a more holistic approach because it looks beyond the immediate desired action and generates multiple points of engagement in order to build loyalty.

To help apply Relationship Marketing to real situations, we have developed The Relationship Marketing Wheel. Traditional marketing is often depicted as a pipeline or funnel, implying that marketing ends at some point (like when your target takes the action). Relationship Marketing is a moving circle with no end.

The Wheel helps you to always consider the next desired action. Marketing efforts never actually stay in just one section of the circle, so the trick is to be actively thinking about how to deeply connect with the target audience in every single section.

If the goal is to ATTRACT people to a new membership program, the same effort that goes into determining how to ATTRACT should go toward determining how to CONNECT, ENGAGE and INSPIRE as well. Ideally, you should be activating all four sections of the circle.

See an example of The Wheel in action!

Some folks might see relationships as fuzzy and difficult to quantify or measure. The opposite is true!

The metrics of measuring Relationship Marketing ROI (return on investment) are not only tangible, but more multi-dimensional than traditional marketing. Success can be effectively tracked through each section of The Wheel even though the ultimate goal resides in one area or another.

Here are some examples (using our nonprofit zoo example from the PDF above):

ATTRACT Metrics:

  • Post engagements
  • Shares
  • New followers
  • Page views

CONNECT Metrics:  

  • Page views
  • Clicks
  • Heat-mapping

ENGAGE Metrics:
(Identified campaign goals)

  • Web form submissions

INSPIRE Metrics:

  • Email engagement
    (open, click thru)
  • Shares


By approaching the campaign with a Relationship Marketing strategy, you can track success  through multiple areas of engagement, beyond the ultimate goal. In this example, traditional marketing would have only focused on the ENGAGE section, counting sales as the only conversion. Relationship Marketing counts all other engagements as a success because they are all steps toward building a deeper, more meaningful connection with people.

Can you tell we’re passionate about this? If not, let’s make that clear.

Relationship Marketing is an approach that reflects our deeply held belief that the work is never done. If nothing else, this approach sheds light on the fact that there are endless ways to connect with people. Without considering the whole picture, those opportunities are missed…which is why we have developed a tool to put our Relationship Marketing methodology into your hands right now.

Download our FREE worksheet
and apply The Wheel yourself!