Dear Marketer,

Valentine just passed, and together with many others, my wife and I celebrated that sacred bond that only loved ones can share: a warm and lasting relationship. But as we did, I also started thinking about that “other” relationship you tell me I should have.  The relationship with your brand and your company. 

As I reflected on the way that you treated me over the past 10 years, I could only conclude that in spite of all the signals, advisors and self-help books, you haven’t really changed your ways.  You’re too addicted to your organizational silos, your KPI’s, your industry habits. 

But I have.  I’m not dependent on you anymore.  I have alternatives which don’t give me the hassle.  So like the lady in The Break Up, which should have been your wake-up call, I am seriously considering a divorce. 

And just in case my reasons aren’t fully clear, I’ll sum them up one last time …

#1 You talk talk talk talk talk … and talk.

When I want to talk you never listen.  But when you have something to say, there’s no shutting you up.  You interrupt my movies, my music, my life.  Not for something valuable, but just to tell me about yet another nip/tuck you had.  And if I try to tune you out because I want a moment to myself, you just shout louder.

# 2 You don’t respect my space

When I befriended you on Facebook, I didn’t give you permission to stalk me. And after that  one purchase I made I also didn’t want you to call, mail and intrude my space.  Yesterday you even managed to get my computer to start promoting a new software to me!  My space is my own and you’re not part of it.

# 3 You take me for granted

There was a time when you swept me off my feet.  You turned my world upside down and sparks flew at every encounter.  But as time went by, the surprises became less and today I don’t think you even try.  But don’t be mistaken, I still want to be wooed.  Not every day, but occasionally.  And you’re simply not doing it.

#4 You never call

In fact, you make it even hard for me to call you.  Before you’ll even talk to me, I have to enter all sorts of codes to explain what I want from you.  And when after fifty rings you finally pick up, I’m put on hold, transferred and often rerouted to square one.  Not to mention that every minute, you charge me for the privilege.

#5 You have a wandering eye

You know, it’s not like I mind that you’re promiscuous.  You’ve got to make a living, and that’s fine.  But I do mind that every new love in your life always gets a better deal than I do.  Last month you even started giving away for free something I paid for 6 months ago.  And no, a discount voucher for my next purchase will not do the trick.

#6 Your conditional love is so hollow

So you reward me for my loyalty.  Great.  It really makes me feel all warm and cuddly to know that I’ve accumulated another 100 points towards that water heater I’ll be able to buy in 3 years.  And by the time I get there you probably change the system so I lose most of my benefits anyway.  You know, I’ve had it with your loyalty scams.

#7 You don’t know me

I don’t just mean that as a figure of speech.  You REALLY don’t know me.  I walk into your stores or onto your website and each time I come to the conclusion you forgot all about me.  Who I am, what I like, what I bought last.  And if I want your help, half the time I need to pull out our prenup to prove that my request warrants your attention.

#8 You only notice me when I threaten to leave

Last month, when I said I had enough and told you I didn’t want to buy from you any more, you suddenly took notice.  In fact, you called me twice and offered me all sorts of benefits to stay.  Things I didn’t even know you had. And while you almost had me fooled to come back to you, it was just too little too late.

# 9 You keep putting my stuff in different drawers

And now I think about it, there’s another thing that annoys the hell out of me.  Every time I’ve gotten used to one of your products or propositions, you start changing it.  You claim this is for my own good. But you never asked me about it.  If you had, you would have known that I actually “liked” things the way they were.  That I didn’t want to “change”.

# 10 And then there’s all the other stuff you do

Like treating me like I’m stupid enough to believe that eating your cookies is going to make my family happy.  Like using transparent ploys to turn me into a WOM-medium for your viral jokes.  Like making hollow promises which somehow don’t get fulfilled.  Like … 

So what do you say?

I don’t want to be the lover scorned.  If I’m really honest, I actually want our relationship to work.  And if you’ve read to this point, you probably still care.  So here’s my challenge.  I won’t leave, if you work with me.  If you help me re-invent marketing.  Make it matter again.  I’ll write more about it shortly, yet if you are truly ready to become a different type of brand, let me know. 

Let’s change reality together: one brand and customer at the time.

Image source:  Olivier GR 

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