How to Market in the Relationship Era

“The Relationship Era, we are happy to report, favors brands and individuals comfortable in their own skin.”
~ Bob Garfield & Doug Levy

You’ve heard it for several years now. “The old way of doing things is dead. There is a brave new world of marketing out there.” Sold… Now what?

It’s that “now what’ conundrum that has too many businesses pursuing the wrong question: “What should I do next?” This is the great tragedy of Relationship Era marketing; a notion that channels and tactics are the answer to your marketing problem. That Facebook + video will get people to like your brand and bring you more business (substitute any channel and tactic). But if that’s not question, then what is?

Can't Buy Me Like by Bob Garfield and Doug Levy

Bob Garfield and Doug Levy believe they have the answer in their new book: Can’t Buy Me Like. The question is not, “What should you do?” …instead it’s “What should you have?” And their answer is “authentic customer connections.”

It turns out that relationships are the answer to marketing in the Relationship Era. That’s great money-saving news for your brand, because you only have to be you, to have relationships with customers. Is it is as simple as that. It really is.

Then, why does it seem so difficult?

Entrepreneurs tend to think in terms of products and services as their identity, thinking that what you sell is who you are. Not true, what you sell is what you sell, but what you are as a brand is much more interesting. Your product/service is just the intersection of the relationship between you and the customer.

So all you have to do is be the real you. Yet this seems a difficult challenge for most entrepreneurs. Who is the real you, and how do you reveal that in a brand? This is where you find the real value of Can’t Buy Me Like. Authors Garfield and Levy lay out a simple path to self-revelation, making you a brand worthy of a relationship.

Why How What

Three questions to brand clarity:


Isolating your brand purpose by posing one central question: Why does the brand exist?
The answer is expressed as a purpose statement derived from your personal values and mission, not a contrived slogan to be shared in your marketing message. This core purpose will be at the heart of everything you do. Garfield and Levy say that your purpose does not have to be unique, or even one that changes the world. Your purpose is not your differentiation, it is why you exist. It can be as simple as

“We exist to empower people to do more investment real estate deals,” or “we exist to make small businesses more efficient.”


This is your brand expression. “How” is your codification of how your business will take a stand in the marketplace.

”We will combine our knowledge of both real estate and investing to simplify the process and make investment real estate deals easy.”


“What”  is what your company does, a description of your products and services. Hooray! This is where we get to talk about our product!

“We have a system that allows our clients to focus on the property they want to buy at the price they want to pay. We take care of everything else.”

Relationship Marketing

Yes, there is more. Through introspection you still have to reveal your brand persona and let your brand personality show. Garfield and Levy provide a system for that as well as brand communication. But, first start with the three questions above and focus on who you are.

That’s your opportunity to entry in the Relationship Era of marketing. Have you done this? Do people buy from you as a business, or know you as a brand?

The author’s website is here: Can’t Buy Me Like
You can buy the book here: Can’t By Me Like

You may also be interested in:
Has the ‘Relationship Era’ of Marketing Changed Business Models?
Marketers Studio Interview with Bob Garfield and Doug Levy
Brand Book Bites from Can’t Buy Me Like

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