customer relationships

11 February 2010

Relationship? Relationship?! Sorry, Corporations, Consumers Just Aren’t That Into You

by Freddy Tran Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Business Relationship Counselor…

Dear John Corporation:

Let me begin by saying that our times together have been good for me. I mean it! I definitely see the value in being with you… to a certain extent. So what I’m about to say might seem cold and heartless, but please don’t take it the wrong way. I think you’re great! I really do, otherwise we would never have gotten together in the first place. But the truth is — well, how can I say this any other way but…

I don’t want a relationship with you.

As much as I need you occasionally — and “occasionally” is the key term here — I don’t need to get any closer or spend any more time with you than what’s necessary to, um, get the job done. That means I don’t want to follow you on Twitter, like you on Facebook, or get your emails in my box on a regular basis — make that EVER. I “like” you but in a strictly non-media sense, which means don’t email me about what’s new with you or what you can do for me. Really.

I mean, face it, John, you’re a corporation. What makes you think I want a relationship with that? I can barely keep up with my real friends and family, and they’re human. I don’t care what the Supreme Court says — you’re not human to me, no matter who you hire to be your face in the media.

Plus, I know you’ve been seeing other consumers and, I confess, I’ve been seeing other corporations — shocking, huh? — so it’s not like we had an exclusive here. So let’s just cut this “relationship” crap, OK? Let’s just keep things the way they are: distant and impersonal.

Now I know all those social media “gurus” tell you that consumers want relationships with brands, that it’s all about “one-to-one” marketing these days. But, seriously, like, what do they know? I mean, I don’t remember them asking me what I want! I think they’re just making this stuff up so they can get retweeted. In fact, I bet most of them were writing for horoscopes or fortune cookies before social media came along. Seriously, how many of these gurus actually have relationships with corporations? — and I’m not talking about the ones who hire them as consultants. Are they swapping emails with Palmolive? Getting it on with Elmer’s Glue on Twitter? Posting sweet nothings on the Facebook pages of their favorite gas station minimart?

The cold hard truth, John, is that to most of us consumers, most of you companies are just something we use. Harsh but true. We’ll pay you for your time and goods, of course, and I know that makes you feel like an escort or a mistress or a Senator from Connecticut, but that’s the way it is. We don’t want a relationship with you. Period. We don’t even want to just be “friends,” whatever that means in the Facebook age.

So please stop stalking me. Really. STOP. No following, no friending, no fanning, no f’ing anything.

Just back off.

And if you keep it up, I’ll have to get a restraining order.

So I hope we have an understanding here. And of course, I’ll see you next week for our usual, OK?

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Jane Consumer

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches graduate-level marketing communication courses at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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