Building Authentic Relationships Builds Business

Book excerpt: Engaging customers and prospects on a relevant, personal level creates lifelong fans.

"Marketing is not a task. Marketing is not a department. Marketing is not a job. Marketing happens every time you engage (or not) with your past, present, and potential customers," writes Scott Stratten in UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. "UnMarketing also takes it one step further-it is any time anyone talks about your company. Word of mouth is not a project or a viral marketing ploy. The mouths are already moving. You need to decide if you want to be a part of the conversation.

"Which is why I call it UnMarketing-the ability to engage with your marketing. Whether you employ thousands or are a one-person show, you are always UnMarketing."

In this excerpt from UnMarketing, Stratten gives an example of UnMarketing at Dominos and the benefits of engaging customers-that is, building relationships to build business:

Dominos-Word of Mouth: Mouths Are Moving . . .

During a bad storm in April 2009, Amy Ravit Korin decided to order a few pizzas because cooking wasn't on her evening agenda.

She decided to place an order online with Dominos, getting through the entire process without talking to a single human being. You might then assume that this would make the order seamless and error-free-because she typed in exactly what she wanted. This was not the case. The order was not only wrong but it was late, taking more than an hour to arrive. So, being the social media lover and consultant that she is, she hopped onto Twitter to let her feelings about this experience be known.

Much to her surprise, a little while later she received a tweet back from Ramon De Leon who owns multiple locations of Dominos in the Chicago area. He acknowledged her tweet and promised to make it right. She was already waiting for a new pizza to replace the wrong one, so she figured short of a coupon that this would be the end of it. Little did she know what was about to happen. . . .

She woke up the next day to a video that was made for her by Ramon as well as ''Junior,'' the store manager of the specific location she had ordered from. This is perhaps the best 2 minute video any business owner could see. It has both of Domino's reps apologizing for what happened, not making up any excuses, and you can truly see the passion behind their words-that they really do want to make it right. Amy was quite taken aback when she saw this video. She doesn't have a million followers, she isn't Ashton Kutcher, she was simply one dissatisfied customer. Keyword here is ''was.'' After seeing the video she forwarded it to others and it caught on like wildfire. The video to date has been viewed more than 100,000 times around the world. Sadly, one of the reasons it has been viewed so many times is that it is so rare for companies to own their mistakes. When people complain to you, they are first looking for validation, not compensation. They want to know that they have been heard, they want to know that they matter, and they want to know that you care.

Ramon acknowledged her as quickly as possible on Twitter, which never would have happened in the first place if he hadn't understood that word of mouth happens with or without him. He took a negative and turned it into an exponential positive. If I told you that I had a room full of current potential customers all talking about your products and your competitors, would you not show up? Not listening and then acting on social media chatter is like not showing up at all. The only thing worse is to have a presence in social media and only talk and not listen. It would be like showing up in the room with earplugs on.

For you to hear what people are saying about your company is simple. Run a search on Twitter by using your company name. There are also tools you can use to make this search easier, such as setting up custom columns on TweetDeck. From a free Google alert set up for your keywords to using a service like Radian6, which is a tool to listen to, measure, and engage with your market across all social media sites. On top of that you can use these same tools to keep on top of what your competition is doing and what people are saying about them.

Ramon ended up making things right by showing up to an event that Amy was a part of, not only because he happened to be catering it, but so that he and Junior could drop off a personal pizza for her along with a dozen roses.

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About the Author: Scott Stratten is president of

Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc., from UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging, by Scott Stratten Copyright (c) 2010 by Scott Stratten