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Why paying for love doesn’t work

[Here’s a recent post I did for the SmartBlog on Social Media. You can follow the blog here or subscribe to the newsletter here.]

Paul McCartney was right: Money can’t buy you love. It just doesn’t work — at least not anymore in an era where we’re getting better at ignoring the marketers obsessed with interrupting us. Smart marketers, however, are finding that it’s much more profitable to put money into the quality of their products and the experiences they offer in order to earn the respect and recommendation of their customers.

Why it doesn’t work:

It’s not scalable. The problem with advertising is that you pay for each impression, regardless of how successful you are. Each investment in the happiness of your fans, however, makes earning new ones a little easier.

It’s not genuine. For enough, you might buy a little attention; but no amount of advertising can establish true love — the kind that makes fans line up for your new products, drag their friends in to see you, or defend you from the naysayers.

It was never for sale to begin with. Social media has opened a window to a process that has been going on for a long time — people have always and will continue to exclusively love companies that treat them with respect and offer extraordinary experiences.

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  1. Amy Alkon July 10, 2009 at 7:29 pm #

    Dan Ariely writes on a related topic — social exchange versus market exchange — in his excellent book, Predictably Irrational. For example, if you have sex with your wife (a social exchange), you’d better not treat it like a market exchange (leave $100 on the end table). Then again, depending on your wife, that may work out well for you.

  2. Lake of the Ozarks July 13, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    We frequently make the point to our staff by pointing out that anyone can get a guest the first time. Our marketing accomplishes this. Only when they become repeat guests do we know if we are doing our jobs, ie. providing great customer service.

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