I recently circulated a Facebook Post where I announced that my corporate title at Collective Bias was soon to change from CSMO (Chief Social Marketing Officer) to CHO. But I didn’t explain further, and it got everyone guessing what CHO stood for.

It was a great exercise. People guessed all KINDS of things, such as:

  • Chief Happiness Officer
  • Captain Human Optimism
  • Chief Hosiery Officer (huh?)
  • Chief Highsocks Officer (you had to be there)
  • Chief Happy Hour Officer
  • Chief Handshake Officer
  •  Chief Human-Relations Officer
  • Chief Heart Officer
  • Chief Humor Officer
  • Chair Head of Organization
  • even Captain Happenin’

Now while some of them came close, no one guessed it, and by around 30 comments they were begging me to tell them what CHO stood for. So I had to give in and tell them; Chief Hugs Officer.  Now why would I move from social marketing officer to hugs officer?  Well, think about it—part of your job as a marketer is to love your customers and make them feel appreciated, right? And what better way to make someone feel appreciated than to give them a hug—even if it’s a virtual one!

Brands do well when they invest in their customer relationships. We’ve all seen examples of it. Successful brands do it in a variety of ways, from delivering excellent customer service to developing customer appreciation outreach programs and finding ways to give more one-on-one personal attention. They strive to foster more and better relationships. They understand the importance of finding new and better ways to do this because without those efforts—without nurturing that human connection—they’re just another company with something to sell. What makes a company attractive is how the customer FEELS when they interact with the company, not just when they consume or use what that company has to offer. Their experience with you is what they share with their friends. Make it a great one, and you’ll get more business. Take every opportunity to make consumer outreach with your brand remarkable. You will not hit the mark every time, but if this is part of your brand DNA, the benefits will be extraordinary.

So what do you think would happen if all CMOs were suddenly transformed into CHOs? It shifts your mindset a bit, doesn’t it? When the word “hug” takes the place of “marketing,” it immediately puts thoughts of relationship in mind: “My job is now to make our customers , employees, bloggers, and anyone else we deal with, feel good—to let them know how much we love them; not as a by-product of marketing, but as the prime ingredient.”

Can you see why giving “customer hugs” should be the prime directive of everyone in your company? It’s not enough just to give lip service to customer relationships. There’s already enough of that going around, and it produces lukewarm results. For brands to do it right they need to make it part of their culture. It should be more than a campaign—more than a concerted effort—it needs to come first.

So think about that. Hugs first, marketing second. Change your title, put a sign on your desk—do whatever you have to do to shift that mindset, and a whole new world can open up for your company. Metaphorically “HUG” your customers, prospects, employees and vendors. Try it—and you’ll begin to see the real benefits of Return on Relationship.


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