Ted Rubin, the most followed CMO on Twitter at @TedRubin and author of the upcoming book, Return on RelationshipTM, sits with Joe Hage to share how his principles can be applied to the medical device industry.
Ted Rubin: Hey, Joe!
Joe Hage: Ted. Before Ted Rubin here was named the top CMO on Twitter, he had a different title. He was just called “Joe’s friend.”
Ted Rubin: That’s true.
Joe Hage: I’ve known you for 13 years now.
Ted Rubin: And I’ve loved being Joe’s friend.
Joe Hage: And I love being Ted’s friend.
Beth Hage: Yeah, but you’re the “second Joe.” (Ted has another friend named “Joe.”)
Joe Hage: And that’s Beth, my wife behind the camera.
Beth Hage: Hello!
Joe Hage: Ted I wasn’t going to let you come to my house without having an interview with you. I mean, everyone else gets to interview you.
Ted Rubin: Well, this is more fun.
Joe Hage: This is more fun and the last time I interviewed you I erased it. By mistake.
Ted Rubin: You did. We made the video in the car outside your sister’s house.
Joe Hage: It was great content. But now here we are.
So here’s a question. You know I now have the largest medical group on all of LinkedIn.
Ted Rubin: I do know that. It is exciting.
Joe Hage: It is exciting. And you talk a lot about return on relationships. You coined the phrase. Not my whole audience is familiar with you and what you’ve done, so briefly tell us what is “RoR” or #RonR.
Ted Rubin: Well, it is “RoR.” #RonR is just a hashtag, if you are familiar with Twitter. Return on relationship is, simply put, the value of accrued by a person or brand for nurturing a relationship. It’s measured by loyalty, trust that converts to an emotional connection and adds up to something of value, is what I like to say.
I try to stay away from the terms “increase sales,” “increase revenues,” because I think value is a term that is much more comprehensive.
Joe Hage: I’m thinking that a lot of people… I know you do a lot of speaking and I’m sure one of the questions you get often is, “Return on relationships. Okay, I get the concept but really what you mean is return on investment. I mean, the relationship is a means to an end.
Ted Rubin: Well, it all depends on how you look at. Yes, it is a return on investment when it comes to the corporate world, the brand world, and the sales world.
Joe Hage: That’s live taping, folks!
Ted Rubin: We were discussing how RoR, return on relationship, in the end it’s actually ROI…from a corporate standpoint, from a brand standpoint, absolutely. Because the endgame of any company is to make money, or else it’s not going to be around.
From a personal perspective, what I try to do and tell others to do, is I try to go out and build relationships and do for people without any expectation of return. And I find that, if a brand can do that to the best of their ability, knowing that there will be a return.
You know, you’ve heard the expression, “What goes around, comes around” or “Pay it forward.”
These things really have reality. The way I look at it is if you look for something directly in return, you end up being disappointed a good amount of the time. What I try to do is, I feel if I do good for people, others will do good for me. And I have found that it really is that way.
Joe Hage: I think that makes a lot of sense for service and I think it makes a lot of sense for B2C. But B2B?
Ted Rubin: Ok. B2B? Ok, you’re talking about …
Joe Hage: Most of the people watching this will probably… say, medical device manufacturers, so I make an ECG machine or I make rubber gloves. How much of this return on relationship makes sense for me?
Ted Rubin: Well I think return on relationship makes huge amounts of sense for you. It’s all about making people understand that you care about them.
So if you just sell something to somebody, and let’s take the extreme: You sell it to them, buyer beware, you walk away, you’re done. Okay? We are all the way out on one extreme. That’s not going to work.
The people that show customers…
Joe Hage: Ok, we’re back, because I think Beth has shut off her phone now? Have you? Ok, we’re going to continue now.
Ted Rubin: Return on Relationship is very important in B2B. Return on relationship is… it’s making people understand that as you build relationships, as you engage and interact, as you do things for others, things will be done for you and you’ll gain loyal customers, you’ll gain trust.
To me, I would think in B2B, trust is much more important than it is in B2C.
People are going to buy products. People are going to buy Cheerios whether they trust General Mills or not. There might be a better relationship in certain ways your reputation is what you are.
Remember, a brand is what you do. It reputation is what people remember.
Ted Rubin: And, and …
Joe smiles at me because he knows I have one-liners and I like to use them because they are easily remembered. And they are things that people can share. And I will tell you as a small business, and in medical and anything, learn to have those things because then they get attributed to you.
And when people talk about them… I don’t know if they called them a ‘meme’ now if you’re familiar with that expression… I try to use them because it relates back to you, it builds your personal brand, but now… because Joe made me smile… that I knew that what he was saying…
Joe Hage: I know. Because I thought to myself: That is very Tweet-able.
Ted Rubin: Now think about reputation for a B2B company. How do most B2B companies get their business? A lot of them get it through recommendations, referrals, through engaging with the customers. The better you do for people and the stronger the relationship is, the more likely someone is to recommend you to someone else.
It’s not just about did you deliver the product for good price in a timely manner with good customer service. It goes beyond that. People will recommend that. But they will go much further to recommend if they like you.
People like to do business with people they like. It’s really very simple. And this is why relationship commerce is starting to become such a big thing, which is a step beyond social commerce. And that goes to… think about a retailer…
You’re much happier buying something at the store where people are nice to you and you can feel good about… and, you know, what I think a lot of small businesses and B2B companies can do is be more like the guy with the store in the community. The guy who takes care of you. The guy that you feel good about.
You know, I’ll give you a perfect example.
Right now, it’s very, very hard, right? Everything is going into not only big box stores but into digital. Best Buy: C’mon, how much longer do they have? A year? Two years? They are Amazon’s show room.
You go there. You do, feel, play, and then you go online and buy it for a better price.
So what is the only thing, whether it be a small B2B business or even a larger one has? Service. Relationships. That’s what’s going to make it happen.
Joe Hage: Good point.
Ted Rubin: I went with my daughter… I have a 15-year-old daughter… I’m a divorced dad, I’m desperate to have time with her “count.” It’s her birthday; I want to buy her something. I suggest jewelry. Her mom buys for a lot of jewelry.
I say, listen, I want you to have something that you really want. So I tell her I’ll go shopping with her because if I pick something, it’s just not going to be the right thing.
We walk into two jewelers and they treat us the way… they follow you around the store… they’re worried about everything you’re touching, they won’t give my daughter a chance to breathe, and we walk out.
We end up in the more expensive store and there is a salesperson there, what I call a real professional. She picked up on it right away: And this is what someone with a B2B business understands. They learn more because they are not selling to thousands and thousands of people.
So return on relationship is even more in Portland because you can get to know the people. She watched my daughter. She realized right away my daughter needed space. When my daughter wasn’t really paying attention, she came over and chatted with me a bit, just to see what something might be.
Then she paid attention. She watched my daughter’s eyes. She saw what she was looking at. She’d make a casual recommendation. Then the salesperson would garner some information from that recommendation, do a little learning, and then refine a recommendation the next time around.
And I have to tell you that when we left the store, I had an experience that I felt right here (touches heart). My daughter was happy and I have told friends about that experience, I have spoken about it at events, and I talked about the store itself: Libutti Jewelers in Huntington, New York. It’s a fabulous place to go. And a small business can do this.
But this is about relationships.
This woman knew there was a good chance that we were going to walk out of her store. But she treated us the same way, I could see, the way she treated regular customers at that store. Because she understood that if you do that all the time, not only do you have those people as potential customers, but even if I never bought anything there, I would still talked about how nice this woman was.
Joe Hage: I know that our time is short. I do want to redirect you.
I have a number of members who don’t have very big companies, who have maybe 20, maybe 100, maybe they are startups… and they buy into this notion. They would love to do that but they don’t have the resources to do it.
Or, I know this comes very naturally to you, it comes naturally to me… I love being online and doing that kind of thing… But some people are, like, uhh, I really don’t…?
Would you tell those people? Because I’ll tell you what I say is social media is binary: Either you do it or you don’t. Because there’s nothing worse than putting a Twitter account together and then seeing just five tweets. Or ignoring your Facebook page.
So what do you tell those people who are intrigued by what you’re saying but, you know…?
Ted Rubin: I agree with you 100%. Don’t start if you’re not going to make it valuable. Or start… but then take it down! So it’s not even there if there’s not going to be any engagement.
I tell people feel that it’s not for them or they don’t have the time, don’t do it. Not everything works for everybody. And if you do get involved with social media, don’t get overwhelmed by everyone’s saying you have to have a Twitter page, you have to have a Facebook page, YouTube account, Pinterest page, Tumblr account … I don’t buy into that either.
Joe Hage: Well, you specialize in…
Ted Rubin: I specialize in Twitter. I do have other places but Twitter is where I really spend most of my time. Because I have developed a passion for it, it fits in perfectly with the way I communicate and, again, there’s only so many hours in a day.
Joe Hage: It won’t surprise you that I’m on LinkedIn all time.
Ted Rubin: Right. So what I will say is depending on what your goals are, if you do have spare hours, if you are spending a lot of hours watching TV at night, I would say redirect that. And use that time for social. And build that presence. Because I guarantee you, it will be valuable.
Joe Hage: You and I definitely share a point of view on this. You say, don’t give your social media program to your intern for junior marketing person.
Ted Rubin: What I say is have that junior marketing person or that intern but make sure they are executing your strategy. Okay? Because these people are great at executing. Young people totally, totally get the platforms and the technologies better than, probably, we ever will, but they don’t have the experience in marketing or relationship building to be the person that’s running point.
I have plenty of interns working for me or younger people or junior marketing people, but I trained them in how I want them to operate. I’m the last word and my own personal Twitter account, I run myself. But business ones I will train other people to work them. You can do that. But you have to make sure that first of all, in the beginning, you do it yourself as otherwise… like anything else… If you have a printing press, you want to know how to do it, so if that guy walks out, you have to know how to do it.
And it’s the only way you’re ever going to really understand the medium. And when they come back to you, and they will, and tell you you’re tweeting too much, or you’re not doing it the right way, remind them that this is your brand and your company and you know what’s best for in that respect and you’ll take their advice, again, about how to do things technologically but that there are better ways as far as communicating.
Joe Hage: Last question I want to ask you. Now, I know that you are not in the medical device space.
And you are not as familiar, perhaps, as the people watching this video, about FDA and what you can and can’t say and things like that. And, we have a lot of capital constraints. Say, for example, you want to replace a cardiac stress system. That’s a $25,000 piece of equipment. We are in a hospital…
Is social media for everyone? Or are there some categories where it just doesn’t make as much sense?
Ted Rubin: Well, there are certainly some categories where it doesn’t make sense. But I would tell you that has nothing to do with regulation. Here’s what I would tell you about it.
You don’t have to talk about the regulatory nature of your product to build a social presence. Maybe you want to have a site that has something to do about wellness. Maybe you want something that has to do with physical exercise or things that are around your concept that is a value to your consumer and not directly related to the regulatory portion of your business.
For example, financial services companies, there’s a lot they can’t say. And I tell them, build something about lifestyle. About travel. About something that’s related to the financial services industry and in medical you could do the same thing or just offer up an aggregated site. You could do that on a blog, you could do that with social, you can provide great links into other peoples verified data, white papers, things that are of value.
And then, leave it as a communication vehicle for the regulated topics and then pop off some of that communication into an email or some other way where it can be more personal and can be monitored more.
Joe Hage: My friend, Ted Rubin. Return on Relationship.
Ted Rubin: Thank you very much.
Joe Hage: Thank you, Buddy.
Ted Rubin: Always a pleasure.