Why Relationship Advice Is Useless
Open any magazine and you will be confronted with a large section on relationships. Some of you may have books on the subject – old classics such as ‘The Rules’, ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ and more recent titles such as ‘He’s Just Not That In To You’. I see these books on the bookshelves of my friends and privately think that they’d have a better chance of building great relationships by burning these books and inviting people round to toast marshmallows over the flames rather than by following their advice.
The formulaic approach favoured in these dating manuals persists in advice on building relationships at work. Working closely with brand marketing teams, building a great relationship is important – what’s not so important is the advice on building a great relationship. The only two truths in a great relationship are effort and communication. Before you scuttle off to Google ‘how to communicate’, stop. Like people, brands have personalities – some are very conservative, some are more relaxed and some are completely off the wall. We can all categorise our friends like this, and I can guarantee that you don’t take exactly the same approach to each one of your friendships – so why take the same approach to brands?
Adapting To Different Needs
Brand teams have different needs and different values, and will communicate in different ways. A brand I’m working closely with at the moment has very different challenges to other brands that I deal with, and talking to the brand team has been crucial to understanding what makes them tick. This holistic approach, considering them as a whole rather than honing in on a few areas, is having a positive effect. It’s very easy for me to say ‘communicate’, but there are a multitude of ways to communicate. Templates for emails are great at ensuring that all the important information is conveyed, but really lack that personal touch that makes for a successful relationship. Don’t be afraid to show your personality! Maybe a meeting on a fortnightly basis works for one particular brand team, but another brand is happy with more informal contact via email. There are no rules, other than to listen, observe and respond accordingly. And like all relationships, things change over time, so I’m always on the pulse and ready to adapt. Stop agonising over how to develop a relationship and then you can start laying strong foundations.