Read “Can’t Buy Me Like” for Insights About The Relationship Era

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Can't Buy Me Like bookIs it really possible that more people love Satan than Dow Chemical? Well, according to the trusty Google search conducted by Bob Garfield and Doug Levy – yes. When you type in the words “I love Satan” you get 293,000 hits, and when you type in “I love Dow Chemical” you get just 3.

And so begins “Can’t Buy Me Like: How Authentic Customer Connections Drive Superior Results.”  The book is a tale of what it takes to woo customers these days.  The narrative is skillfully woven by Bob Garfield (@onthemedia), Host of NPR’s “On the Media” and Doug Levy (@douglevy1), the Founder of CEO of MEplusYOU, a leading strategic and creative agency that believes authentic relationships fuel astonishing brands.

I received a review copy of this book just this week and couldn’t wait to tell you about it as soon as I finished reading it. I think it contains vital mind-shifting information for every business; large and small.

Top Down Telling and Convincing is Dead 

According to the authors, we’re evolving into the relationship era. If you remember any marketing class you’ve ever had or marketing book you’ve ever read, you’ll recall this timeline:

  • Marketers define their history as beginning in the 17th century with the “Product Era” which stayed with us into the 1950’s.
  • Then there was the “Consumer Era” which started around 1965 and ran up until “five minutes ago” (according to Garfield and Levy). This was a time where large brands thrived by simply finding out what consumers wanted and then giving it to them.
  • “Cant’ Buy Me Like” is all about the next step in marketing – “The Relationship Era.” This book outlines exactly how this era has disrupted business as usual. This is a time where human needs, human values and human connections will define your success or failure. The currency of “Relationship Era Marketing” is not awareness; it’s belief.

Discover How Successful Companies Are Measured 

It’s not enough to say that things are changing. You already know that. What “Can’t Buy Me Like” does is get to the root of what triggered the change. It’s also about why you need to have a firm grasp of these events so that you can make the necessary changes and run your business better.

You may be tempted to write all of this off as a passing fad or some kind of social media-driven drivel. This would be a huge mistake. The concepts of “authenticity” and “customer connections” may have started out that way, but they have become the DNA of successful and profitable businesses.

The book goes into detail of companies that were simply going through the motions of top-down marketing campaigns. Example: McDonald’s — it created a mess by asking for authentic customer stories without building the required trust and engagement from their customers to pull it off. Or United Airlines — it destroyed 25 years and billions of dollars of Gershwin ads when over 12 million people viewed the “United Breaks Guitars” YouTube video from a dissatisfied customer.

The lessons in this book are clear and lasting.  You have to pay to play in today’s likeability arena. And paying means paying attention.  It means paying attention to the core values of your company and actually living those values beyond the posters and ads that you put out in the marketplace.

You’ll read about how companies that have put their values where their ad dollars are have come to reap the rewards:

  • Patagonia earned credibility with their “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign. That campaign explained their company’s commitment to their “Common Threads Initiative” and urged their customers to be conscious consumers.
  • Panera Bread doubled their per store sales by focusing on creating a welcoming environment. At the same time Panera spends just 1% of sales on advertising. (I know what they mean, I prefer Panera to Starbucks simply because there is free wifi and they don’t blast distracting music.)
  • P&F’s Secret Antiperspirant grew by simply rallying behind the idea of female fearlessness.

What Will “Can’t Buy Me Like” Do for Your Business?

If you get anything from this book, it’s that the days of “corporate speak” and top-down message control are over. The good news here is that this frees you up to really build a profitable business around your true commitments and the reasons that you started your business in the first place.

When I talk to my clients, I often have the impression that they think they have to be “professional” and they have to do things “the right way.” It finally dawned on me, after reading this book. Much of that mindset comes from the now obsolete ways of top-down marketing.

I’ve been telling everyone who will listen that your marketing has to be a true reflection of who you are and what you are committed to. When you try to put a face on your brand that is anything less than that, you will either go broke trying or fail.

If you’ve been looking for the right way to inject your true values and personality into your marketing, then you have to read “Can’t Buy Me Like.” You’ll walk away with a whole new outlook and future for the life of your business, and for the business of your life.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

4 Reactions
  1. It seems like the “relationship era” was a natural consequence of the social media explosion. We’re heavily invested in other people’s lives, and we care more than ever about sharing our lives with as many people as possible. It sometimes still boggles my mind that I can strike up a relationship with someone just by “friending” them or following their tweets. I guess it could not have been too far off that customers would show preference to the people with whom they had an existing relationship.

    • Hi Simeon – I think you are so right. In fact, I think that the more we use technology to “separate” ourselves from human interaction, the more we crave human interaction and relationship.

      Your other point about people making decisions on who to work with based on the level or relationship they have is also spot on. Today, there are just too many choices, it stands to reason that we’re going to choose the company or person we have a connection to —

  2. Sounds like a must-read!