Marketing: Conversion or Conversation? [How About Both!]

Have you ever noticed that your year is marked with periods that you’re crazy busy? Maybe leading up to your big event, annual appeal, or major conference… And then things calm down a bit until the next big push?

If your organization is like most others, chances are the messages your audience gets from you reflect this pattern. If you map it out, it actually looks like a series of peaks and valleys. And from your supporters’ end, the message probably sounds something like “Give. Give. Give…. Come. Come. Come.” Then mostly silence—until you start ramping up for the next big thing.

But like any relationship, if you keep asking without giving, you’re going to lose your connection with your audience. Too much conversion and not enough conversation kills the spark.

Instead of taking a break between messages TRY THIS

When you’re busy selling your next event or that big appeal, communications tend to be action-focused, transactional, and outcomes-driven. The key is to balance this “conversion marketing” with “relationship marketing”—or what the development side of the house would classify as “stewardship.”

Relationship marketing pulls your people closer to your organization by taking the time to surprise, amaze and delight them. Relationship marketing:

  • Builds awareness among your audience members about what you do and/or the cause you stand for
  • Demonstrates your organization’s value and the key role your audience plays in bringing it about
  • Engages your audience on a deeper level
  • Is responsive to your audience and shows you’re paying attention to them

What does relationship marketing look like in action? Think about a story that shows your impact, a progress update on a big project, a peek at how you do things, an information nugget related to your area of expertise, an opportunity to advocate for your cause, or anything at all that expresses gratitude — from a Valentine to a random thank you.

So, get out your calendar and look for spaces of silence in between your “selling” cycles. What can you do to fill those dips with content that will delight your community?

Need help developing your relationship content? Give us a call at 267-468-7949 or drop us a line at