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Why familiarity wins business

Why familiarity wins business

How familiar are you with your clients?

Do you remember their birthdays? Their children's names? Where they last vacationed?

There is such a thing as being too familiar - you know the type; when a person comes up to you and invades your personal space. However, in business, putting aside the touchy feely stuff, being familiar by remembering important details about your clients, their habits, and perhaps the way they take their coffee, can ensure that your client feels comfortable sharing things with you that perhaps they would not do to a "stranger".

First meetings are always key to ascertaining what level of playing field you will be on in the relationship going forward. That means, if they share important information like the fact that they are married and have three children or like to ski, then ensure you capture this data and use it in the future. In ski season, perhaps you send them a new pair of gloves or a scarf.  

Yesterday, I met with a company in Atlanta that was headed by an Australian man. Immediately, we had something in common and were able to conduct the rest of the meeting with a sense of familiarity. Going through the same issues of settling in a new country, gives a sense that we are both on the same page. This makes the whole process so much easier because there is a sense that we both know where we are coming from thus helping Marketing Eye win this piece of business.

Food for thought!

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comments ( 4 )
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  • George Ojaimi
    George Ojaimi
    15 Mar 2013

    Simply speaking, I think being familiar with your customers personal lives is brilliant for business, although, only to a certain extent. There are some things that might be a bit too personal.

    Talking about someone's kids I believe is one to go with. They are the pride and joy of parents, and giving them the opportunity to "brag" about them will incline them to deal with you rather than others.

    However, there may be a boundary when it comes to getting too involved. This could be through having a discussion about family issues. Depending on the level of involvement with your client, you might not want to be too opinionated here.

    If I'm to summarise my belief, just be a true friend with these clients but obviously, true friendships could vary depending on each client's personality.

    Either way, people love to be it, and the deal is done!

  • Tom
    01 Mar 2013

    No offense but knowing your clients or customers alone isn't enough these days and that's also taught at world's top business and technological institutions including USyd and other universities over here. Since I'm based in Australia, I will be taking Australian examples-where is the Australian manufacturing or retail sector today? It's not that those sectors weren't familiar with their clients as they were. The manufacturing sector is nearly over and the retail sector just managing to survive. Online retail came late to Australia and is 10 years behind to countries within North America, Europe and so on. It is just like transportation payment system which is 10 years behind in comparison to Europe, North America, etc. They fell due to lack of innovations and cooptition. Look at the world's leading firms-they all have innovations and cooptition. Cooptition means sharing of information, knowledge including familiarity with various stakeholders and not just with clients or customers. Customer-centric approach alone was long over in 1980s where innovative approach and cooptition took over. IBM, P&G, etc were early adopters while Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc have just furthered it. Where are the traditional entertainment & publishing sectors? Over as they have been changed by new business models. Why? Innovation and cooptition amongst firms in a value chain as all firms are part of a value chain and that includes Marketingeye as it's part of the inbound marketing society since outbound marketing is finished (the infographics for inbound vs outbound was given by Mashable 2 years back). Thus, familiarity needs to be with various stake-holders and not just with clients or customers.

  • Rohit Thomas
    Rohit Thomas
    01 Mar 2013

    It's very difficult to respond on Twitter because that's NOT an interactive/conversational social network. Twitter is a real-time news network & that's where most Australian organisations are making the mistake. The social media failures & statistics of Australian organisations are under the Fifth Quadrant Report which can be found under Craig Thomler's eGov AU blog-Craig Thomler is a leading Australian expert in technology within the business and government sectors.

    Coming back to the response to this blog, customers are important yet they are not the only ones needed for a firm to be successful. The customer-centric approach alone was long over in the 1980s where the innovative approach with cooptition took over. P&G, IBM, etc were the early adopters now furthered by Google, Amazon, Samsung, Apple, etc. If like, can look at P&G case studies, they don't just look at customers or clients, they also look at the rest of the stake-holders since P&G is part of the value chain and being part of the value-chain means whatever benefits P&G gets, the others also get since they collaborate and work with each other. Samsung & Apple would be the popular example-rivals yet Samsung is Apple's component supplier. Additionally, these days, it's all about low-cost innovations or blue ocean strategies coming out of countries like China, Brazil, India, etc where 2 of those examples are Embraer,Tata, etc and more of these can be found under ('Globality'). Globality or glocalisation or semi-globalisation is the next stage since globalisation is over and it's where anyone and everywhere compete from anywhere and everywhere. This video is also under Knowledge@Wharton where Wharton is the world's best business school.
    Now, returning to Australia, where are its retail or manufacturing sectors? The retail shifted to online late and is 10 years behind just like the transportation payment systems which are also 10 years behind. Somehow, the retail is just hanging on because Australia is sadly a late adopter of technology. GE last year (2012) surveyed or did a research where Australia was found not to be innovative and it's also sad to see that the innovative start-ups land in USA as they aren't encouraged including for funding. The manufacturing sector, on the other hand, is nearly over in Australia. Though Australia can regain it back. How? US manufacturing was over 30 years ago yet US regained it back 20 years ago and now is doing very well because it shifted to the high-end value which can be seen under 'Made in USA', 4th episode of America Revealed under PBS.ORG -

    So, familiarity or cooptition as well as innovation needs to be there with all stakeholders to win a business as a business is part of a value chain.