Relationship-Based Content Vs. Transactional Content

When should your content be about the relationship and when should it be about the sale?

July 2, 2024


What we're gonna talk about today is the difference between transactional content and relationship-building content.

They are very distinct. There are two different uses for this content, but really when you look at it, what's the difference between those two and why should we invest in both of them?

Noressa Kennedy Hinkler

Yeah, I think that we live in a world that is very transactional. And especially depending on your industry, if you're in retail or various different industries that are very transactional, what you're trying to get is the numbers and ultimately that's what the executive suite cares about. When they look at the analytics behind things, what is marketing driving and how are we getting those numbers? But ultimately behind the numbers are how are you creating repeat customers?

How are you creating engaging content that your target audience actually wants to follow you? And because so much is driven from social media nowadays, you have to create a reason for them to want to follow you. They're not gonna follow you because you have a cup that they like and so one time follow and then engage with your content. You have to continue creating engaging content that they care about. So I think that's really behind like,

When you think of transactional versus relational, it's what is going to drive the number and the transaction, but behind that is the relationship. How are you going to create a relationship that's then going to drive the numbers? And often we skip that step.


I love that. And that makes a lot of sense. So when you're looking at, you know, opportunities for relationship content, what are some examples that you've seen from your career where, you know, what does that look like? Like what, what are some examples of powerful campaigns that can be run where people can really build relationships and ultimately hopefully have an impact on the business?

Noressa Kennedy Hinkler

You know, I've got two that come to mind initially, and they're both from a previous position where I spent seven years in the travel nursing industry with an absolutely wonderful company. And I got to do so much there because we had the ability to affect people with our marketing and they really understood what that meant. And so during the height of covid, really, when covid was just getting started, we were dealing with nurses and nurses during COVID.

I mean, they've had the run of it and they truly deserve so much respect for everything that they have gone through with COVID. But at the beginning of what was becoming from COVID, there were instances where we had nurses that were commenting that they were on travel assignments and they couldn't get to a grocery store because grocery stores were closing early, or they were being mistreated in public, or things were closing down. They didn't have toilet paper. They couldn't find basic necessities.

And so we created a cares campaign and really went to social and said, Hey, what do you need? Like, if there's something that you need, let us try to get it for you. And I, I sent so many Amazon packages of toilet paper, but also hand sanitizer and, and macaroni and cheese. There was a single mom that just couldn't make it to the grocery store. And, and that one gutted me.

And, and there were several that kind of just pulled emotion where I was like, this is not only using a marketing campaign, this is changing, not necessarily changing a full aspect of life, but this is changing somebody's day for sure and making an impact on their life.

So that was really the side of things where we ended up getting that post went viral. And we got so much traffic from that, that it was really one of those moments where I said, looking at it and thinking in terms of what's going to drive engagement through relationship, ultimately being what drove the highest traffic to our website that we had seen in a while. And that was a really big game changer for driving the relationship and then seeing the transactional approach benefit off of that.

The second one is we had a moment where we said, okay, there was a passing joke in a leadership meeting on if you've got $100,000 for marketing, what are you gonna do? And you always go through leaders that don't really understand the full aspect of marketing. So they're gonna joke and say something like, oh my gosh, if we're putting $100,000 in marketing, you may as well just buy cars.

Well, I get a call on a Sunday afternoon and my VP at the time said, hey, you remember when we made the joke about just using the marketing budget to buy cars? I was like, yes. And he goes, well, the CEO actually wants to do that. So I need you to put together a campaign and we're gonna be giving away cars and they're gonna launch it next week. So you've got to put everything together pretty quickly.

I had a little bit of a freak out moment and I was like, all right, how are we gonna do this that we don't sound like used car salesman and nothing against that, but that's not the approach that we wanted for a healthcare industry.

And so we really thought about it. And at this time, it was just the VP and myself really building this out. And it ended up transpiring into a gives back campaign where we were really, it was the closest I've ever been to an Oprah moment, but it was surprising publishers clearing house style, surprising a nurse with a car and showing up and changing their life in a moment saying, hey, you've just won something that is really gonna make an impact on how you get to work. But really just make you feel good because you deserve it.

The emotion that was behind those stories was far more of an experience than I ever could have gotten through anything that I've done along my career. And I'm so grateful for that experience, but it ended up running three years. And there was a moment in time where I went out in public and saw someone and she was like, hey, you guys are the ones giving away cars.

And this was somebody outside of the industry, a complete stranger. And you really learn the impact. You think that what you're doing is just impacting your target audience. But when you have that moment where you realize this has gone much wider than that, it's a full scope marketing has such an impact on not only your brand, but the people that you're impacting. And you're developing that customer base and followers who really care about what you're doing because you're doing the right thing.


I absolutely love everything you just said, and I'm learning so much and taking notes and thinking through so many things. A couple of things that really stand out to me.

Number one, when you're using these examples, I love the approach. I know all the time in marketing, we talk about adding value, and you've almost taken that to the next level. You've created moments where you're really saying, can I change a life? Or can I, like you said, can I change a day? Can I make their day? And I think that is a new standard to really hold ourselves to, to say, if I'm making content that really is gonna make an impact, how do I actually improve and make someone's day?

And if that's your bar, I think you can create amazing content. And I love your examples. I mean, obviously giving away a car is going to make more than someone's day. It's going to make their year and their life and things like that. One thing I want to double click on and get your, you know, your feedback on both of those examples were personalized content experiences.

And I'm curious what your thoughts are when it comes to relationship-based content versus transactional. It looks like you were able to make an impact audience wide by segmenting out specific people and creating a relationship with them. Do you feel like relationship building content should all be personalized? Do they go hand in hand? How do you view that in general?

Noressa Kennedy Hinkler

I think they do. I think there are times where you're not always going to be able to make things hyper-personalized, and that's OK. But you've got to figure out what your buyer persona is. And if you know who your buyer persona is and who you're talking to, then it doesn't have to be personalized to the point that you're talking directly to a person with their name on it and making it very special.

You can always have the moment where you know your buyer persona and you're just relating to things that are important to them. And if you're hitting the mark the majority of the time with just something that is relatable, that relatable content is what's going to create the long-term engagement.


I love it. When you're looking for relatable content and relationship-based content, how are you coming up with opportunities? I mean, you use really relevant examples and things like that, but how do you source ideas? What's your process for brainstorming? Obviously you had a process for saying, I'm going to give away a car.

How do I do this in the right way without looking, you know, in a certain way? What are some tips when you go through the ideation process to say, how's, how's my content going to make an impact?

Noressa Kennedy Hinkler

So I'm a big believer in focus groups and going back to your target audience and asking them. And you're not always gonna have the budget or the means to bring in people and do a focus group, but social media has made it so great for us to have the ability to just click into what conversations our target audience is having. And so I think being willing to look up and just watch how people are talking.

If you know you're by your persona then go look for those types of people on the internet, on social and see what's important to them, see what they're talking about. And I think equally important, look at the comments that are on your existing content. How are people engaging and what are the questions that they're asking? And I think it's really easy for me to show these examples of how I've had really healthy budgets in marketing to be able to do these really cool things.

But I also have the nonprofit and I have the current startup experience. So you're not always going to have those budgets. When you don't have those budgets, you talk to the people that you're trying to talk to. You engage with the content by responding to the comments, the messages that are coming through and listening. And really, when you don't have the budget, you listen more. And when you listen more, you understand and then you're able to put out the content that's truly going to make a difference.


I love it. And I can guarantee that quote you just said is for sure going to be the cover of what we share on social media. I love that. I think that's so important. If you don't have a budget, you have to listen even harder and really find the creative moments and really engage with your audience. I think that's so powerful. So when it comes to this content.

The opposite side, transactional, right?

We talked this whole time about relationship-based content. When does it make sense to actually use transactional? Like you said, we gotta hit numbers, right? We gotta do some certain things. How do you define when, where, and how which content should be developed and utilized? How do you kind of separate those two?

Noressa Kennedy Hinkler

Yeah, I think transactional is always, as a marketer, it's really important to understand the data and the science behind what you're doing. And ultimately numbers are going to drive majority of what you're doing. And so it's easy to kind of see a blurred line in between those, because from a content perspective, it's fun to be creative and to think about the words behind what you're doing.

But you still have to remember that the executives are going to care about that data. So what transactionally, data-wise, analytics-wise, what are you delivering? And so I often think of the 20-80 rule. If you were running your own socials or if you were doing a company social, you want the majority of the content to be things that are very relevant and then that 20% to be about jobs or things that are very specific to you.

And I think that rule still applies very well. Like you want the majority of your content to be what's going to engage your target audience. And then don't be afraid to slide in the stuff that says, like, hey, don't forget we've got products that can benefit you. But I think it's easy to make that mold in between as well.

So if you've got that little bit of content that is purely transactional, and then you've got the content that's the in-between on what's important to you, and here's how we've kind of developed something that will benefit you and fix that for you. And then the truly engaging content. And I think that's a three-part series that ultimately is gonna still drive that transactional approach, because your data is still gonna be that decision maker, but the content's gonna be more of that long game.


I love that. I love that. Yeah, there's the 95-5 rule, right? 95% of your audience is not in market and 5% is. And I like how you actually segment it to say, well, if that's the case, 80%, 95%, that's probably the percentage of your content you need to make as well. And then you have that other percentage for the people that are engaged. Slip that in, the people are like, oh yeah, I am in market. Great, create a pathway for them and then keep engaging.

Noressa Kennedy Hinkler

Yeah, there are a lot of companies that I follow and social and I've never bought anything from them. I don't necessarily have a need for it, but they've engaged in content and I engage with it and when I know a connection that could benefit from it, I send it straight to them. And that's really what you're trying to do is create content that somebody would want to send to somebody else.


Plus, if you're ever in the market, you, I mean, there's one company you're going to consider. And so it's so nice to do that. And I think that sometimes we have to be patient for that. And we can't force people to become in market. We can't, you know, force that. But we can build relationships in the meantime, which I think is really powerful. I love that.

Well, Noressa, we are out of time. It goes by so quick. I promised it would go by quick and it really does. If anyone wants to continue the conversation and connect online, there's so much to talk about, so much that we've learned today. How can they reach out and connect with you and further the conversation?

Noressa Kennedy Hinkler

I welcome any connection requests on LinkedIn. I love to have these conversations and I truly geek out over all things marketing communications. So I absolutely loved this talk today and thank you very much.


Love it. Again, thanks for your time today, Noressa, and have a great rest of your day.

Noressa Kennedy Hinkler

You too.

Subscribe to the Masset.AI blog

Articles you'll actually want to read.

Thank you! You're subscribed.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.