An investment in marketing is an investment in something extremely valuable: the relationship with the customer

One of the most difficult things in life – never mind business – is to put a value to an intangible. It is such a bummer then that the most valuable things also tend to be the most intangible. They tend to be “fluffy”.

  • The relationship with your wife or husband, also called marriage.

  • The relationship with your kids, also called parenting.

  • The relationship with your business partner, also called “playing golf on a Friday”.

  • The relationship with yourself, also called “self-esteem”.

Clearly there is a pattern here: where the word relationship features, you know you are dealing with something extremely valuable. And this is why you go so far to ensure that you are at your son’s soccer game or attend your daughter’s school concert. Even though you’d much rather just watch TV.

And there is another pattern. All these extremely valuable relationship building activities go by another name: marriage, parenting, playing golf…

So the equation looks like this:

Extremely valuable thing = relationship = fluffy = go by another name.

Interestingly, even the most hard core, rational, numbers driven, “show me the proof” business man understands this equation. They drop everything at a moment’s notice to be at their daughter’s school play.

So why then do so many business owners struggle to apply the same logic to that other fluffy thing of (almost) incalculable value: the relationship with their customer – also going by the name: “marketing”?

Sure, we live in an era where we obsess about turning marketing into data that can be measured for returns. But this will never take away from the fact that fundamentally marketing is about customer relationships which by its nature is a fluffy thing. Let’s not fool ourselves, a large part of marketing is – and will always be – fluffy.

Why are so many business owners reluctant to spend significant resources on marketing if they are so willing to do it with every other relationship in their life?

Marketers should be far less apologetic about the fluffiness of their trade. Business owners should be less hypocritical in pretending they don’t understand the value of investing in fluffy things.

The most valuable things in life, are intangible. Everybody knows it.