Building Customer Relationships: The North Star of Endemic Marketing

October 8, 2021

By Jay Kulkarni

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With all the changes marketing teams have faced over the past year and a half and the many privacy and data regulations on the horizon, many marketers are scrambling to pivot strategies without really grasping the big picture. Although sometimes it seems like it, marketing isn't just a numbers game.

The foundation of marketing is built upon people and relationships. These changes, however, are pushing us to return to our roots by placing people back at the epicenter of our initiatives.

With the ever-increasing role technology has played in marketing over the past few decades, it has been easy to lose sight of the human elements of marketing. AI-based data collection and utilization has made it more seamless for teams to aggregate and serve content, offers, and products to customers that are based on their web surfing and clicks.

While this strategy is designed to tailor to customers' interests and needs, somehow the pendulum has swung too far. Messaging has crossed over from relevant to eerie, resulting in the call for more transparency marketers are seeing from consumers today.

But don't today's consumers want personalized content and messaging? The short answer is: Yes, they do. A longer answer is: Modern consumers want personalization from marketing materials that relate to them on a deeper level.

The fact of the matter is that lack of regulations on data privacy has caused marketers to lose sight of the human side of the business, making data collection and utilization the Wild West in terms of what is right and wrong. This new endemic age is putting an end to the lawless data privacy landscape, encouraging marketing teams to put consumers first and focus on fostering relationships with people rather than catering to data points.

Relationships First, Data Second


Now more than ever, the crux of all marketing hinges on the consumer's relationship with the brand. With inboxes and feeds filled with various marketing messages, consumers are calling for personalized messaging that relates to them on a multitude of levels. From relatability and empathy to diversity and inclusion, endemic-era consumers demand messaging that speaks to them personally.

Marketers must heed the call and focus on how they can leverage initiatives to speak to their customers, proving that they don't just know them by data points — they know who they are, what they need, and why they need it.

Marketing teams can't just say, "Hey we know you because you clicked on this." They must show them they know them by creating personalization on a deeper level, proving that they know what they are interested in based on who they are as a person and not where they clicked last week.


Yes, data is crucial to modern marketing, however, the key to success is not about collecting first-party data, it's about how to leverage it to foster relationships with your brand to forge loyalty. In other words, it's all about the personal level of the experience consumers are having with your brand.

Focusing on relationships based on value exchanges over time, rather than transactional relationships, means ensuring customers receive welcomed messaging from your brand that resonates with them. This results in increased customer engagement and long-term loyalty, which in turn, creates a deeper understanding of your consumers.

It's All About Trust


The lack of regulations when it comes to digital property and personal data utilization has created a lack of trust and comfort for the consumer, and rightfully so. While it is common knowledge that modern marketing hinges on understanding and appealing to customers via aggregated data and preferences, how this is executed is not. As consumers have become more educated and new digital privacy regulations emerge, marketing teams must shift their focus from, "How do I convert people?" to "How do I help people?"

When you place your focus on helping, you create value and build trust that leads to conversions. Again, marketing is not necessarily a numbers game, it's about establishing consumer trust in your brand through valuable and transparent exchanges.

Many savvy marketers have shifted their focus to building trust, creating value, and establishing loyalty over the past decade as a direct result of consumer access to technology. Customers no longer want to be "sold to." They want to research and weigh their options in their own time across their preferred channels before they make a purchasing decision.

As marketers, it is our job to make valuable information available to clients when and where they want and need it, and the pandemic has only amplified this need. In other words, marketing teams must fully understand their consumers, from personal preferences to wants and needs, to create empathetic, valuable content that is designed to educate and appeal to them across multiple channels. Leveraging this type of value based micro-moment methodology within your omnichannel strategy will help bolster customer engagement and built customer loyalty through trust.

In Short


Fostering customer relationships is critical in this new endemic era. Although consumers are more inundated with information than they ever have been, they are also in the driver's seat when it comes to their digital footprint. At the end of the day, this means marketing teams must focus on building trust between customers and their brands through valuable and transparent interactions. The north star for this endemic era is fostering relationships in both the marketing world and beyond.


The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.


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