Corporate Eye

The Importance of Relationship Branding and Marketing in Building Loyalty

I love it when I’m contacted to speak at an event about relationship branding and marketing.  It’s one of my favorite subjects.  I suppose that’s why I wrote books about two successful relationship brands, Harry Potter and Playboy.

Today, I read about the results of the 2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study on eMarketer’s Web site, which was all about the importance of building brand loyalty through relationship marketing.  Naturally, I was intrigued and took a moment to check out the study results.  Check out the chart below from the study which show the attitudes of U.S. new media users towards companies and brands that they’re able to interact with via new media from September 2009:


Nearly three-quarters of respondents have a more positive impression of a company or brand after interacting with them via new media and nearly three-quarters feel stronger connections with those companies and brands.  That’s a big percentage.

There is no doubt that social media presents a significant opportunity to businesses and brands to engage consumers, interact with them and develop relationships with them, which can lead to brand loyalty, advocacy, and word-of-mouth marketing.  The days of competing on the basis of the 4 Ps are over.  In the 21st century, savvy consumers need more than a competitive price, and brands need more than traditional advertising to get noticed and be remembered by consumers who move faster than ever before.

However, the key to social media marketing success is a willingness to give up control of the online conversation so relationships can develop.  Brands have to speak with consumers, not at them.  Are you ready to do that for your brand?  Or is the more appropriate question, “are your executives willing to let you do that for your brand?”  That’s where the gap continues to exist.

Next time you’re heading into a meeting with the C-Suites, take along this chart and show them that consumers truly do value social media interaction.  At the very least, it’s a step in the right direction, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get an approval on your next social media marketing initiative.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.