Dirty Marketing: The Negative Impact of Mixing Marketing with Relationship Building in Business Communities

It felt like he had just dropped a dirty towel into our perfectly purified community, and it didn’t sit right with me or anyone else in the group.

As a forum moderator for a community of business owners, I facilitate peer groups for members to learn and grow from each other. For example, one section of the meeting is called “Needs and Leads.” In this section, the goal is for members to get quick wins from each other by asking for something they need and then giving a lead to the group based on an experience they had over the past month.

During one meeting I was a part of, a member who also worked for the organization that had hired me to run the groups used both his need and lead to pitch an upcoming event the organization was hosting for its members.

Using the needs and leads section to market an upcoming event felt dirty. This is why I said it felt like he dropped a dirty towel into our perfectly purified community.

Mixing Doesn’t Always Match:

A central tenet of Dance Floor Theory is that you should never mix marketing with relationship building. This is because when you are marketing to someone, you aren’t building the relationship and might be causing damage instead. Mixing marketing with relationship building can negatively affect the marketer and the relationship itself. This is especially damaging in a community where relationships are so important such as a Forum.

Being Valuded vs. Being Manipulative: 

When people mix marketing with relationship building, it can often come across as insincere or manipulative. People want to feel valued for who they are, not just as potential customers. If a relationship is built solely based on marketing, it can be challenging to establish trust and a genuine connection.

Prioritizing Relationship Building over Marketing:

The feeling in the air after he made these two comments about his upcoming event was one of being used or taken advantage of, which can lead to mistrust and resentment. The irony of the situation, however, is that had he not used this section of the meeting to market his event and instead focused on building the relationships, he probably would’ve been more effective at a later time outside the meeting with marketing the event. When people prioritize relationship building over marketing, marketing becomes much easier.

If you are a marketer, remember that mixing marketing with relationship building can damage the relationship and cause mistrust and resentment. Instead, prioritize building genuine customer relationships based on trust and mutual respect. This will make your marketing efforts more effective in the long run. In addition, if you are a community or peer group member, be extremely mindful of using group settings solely for marketing purposes. Instead, focus on building relationships with your peers, as this will create a strong foundation for future collaboration and growth.

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