The news has been filled with stories about recent marketing campaigns from Starbucks and McDonalds. Starbucks gave us the short lived #RaceForward campaign and McDonalds took some hits from the whole "pay with love" idea.
As a marketer I understand the origin of these ideas. In a world of abundant choices it's logical to assume that the public will choose those companies, services, etc. that have some sort of greater meaning to them.
But what these companies, and many others, are doing is forgetting the difference between a promise and a relationship.
What people want from an organization is a promise. They want to know what they are being offered and feel confident they will receive it.
Relationships are different. Relationships happen between people, not between an organization and a person.
For example, what most people want from McDonalds is food of a certain standard. They want it fast and they want it to be affordable. That's the promise they want fulfilled.
What people ARE NOT looking for is a business to try and impose kindness as a form of currency, or "initiate" a conversation.
That's something that can only happen person to person. McDonalds, for example, could have quietly empowered all their employees to be able to give away food to a favorite customer. Now we are moving toward achieving both an organizational promise (fast food) and building a relationship between the employee and a customer.
The big thing I want you to consider here is that the promise matters more then the relationship. The Ritz Carlton hotel chain promises a certain level of service, cleaning standards, etc. If they don't deliver on the promise then we never get to the relationship.
The theatre, the dance company, the solo artist, are all making a set of promises. We have to define the promise and they devote 100% to delivering it.
The relationship part is the icing on the cake, not the cake. The promise is the core. It's the core of the organization, the core of the artistic vision, the core of the marketing.
Deliver the promise. The relationship will take care of itself.