What’s Transactional Marketing?

And why It Could Kill Your Business.

Business is a transaction. To do business means to transact.

Without the transaction, you have no business.

Your business is the transaction.

The transaction takes place between two or more parties. It is the link between one entity and another. A transaction is usually two-way. There is an exchange. I give you money for something you have.

That exchange or transaction is how we humans have operated in society since the dawn of time.

Everything we do before, during, and after the transaction, is marketing. 

Marketing is your business, regardless of what you do, you are a marketer.

Nowadays the exchange is mostly about money, but it wasn’t always that way.

In medieval England, people would barter with what they had. I have sheep; you have grain, want to swap a sheep for some grain?

This kind of exchange is entirely about value. All value is subjective.

If I asked you to cut off the tip of your finger for a bowl of rice, you would laugh, ‘no way!’ You don’t value that bowl of rice above your finger. But if you hadn’t eaten in four days and your life or the life of the people you love depended upon that bowl of rice, you may think a little differently about your choice.

The above is an extreme example, granted, but it illustrates how each of us places different levels of value on certain things depending upon the context.

What you or I measure as important will vary according to our beliefs, our values and our economic and social circumstances. These contribute to the way we see the world.

The way we see the world is called our worldview. None of us sees objectively, we all view the world through our own lens — beer goggles. Except for the alcohol (beer) are our beliefs, values and experiences.

What we believe to be true (whether it is or not) distorts how we interpret things around us. We ‘see’ differently.

As an entrepreneur, a business owner, remember you are only one side of the transaction.

Without your clients there would be no transaction.

No transaction means no business.

If, like most business owners you are trying to find more people to transact with [read – get more sales] then it pays to take the time to understand the people you are transacting business with accurately. Don’t you agree?

Once you understand how business works, you can see how critical it is to give your clients the attention they deserve.

Not only is the client the most important part of the transaction, your business literally couldn’t exist without them.

But we have a problem.

The transactional approach to business and marketing keeps most business folk focussed on the wrong thing — the transaction.

We measure success on metrics such as the number of sales transactions, the amount of profit per transaction.

We become obsessed with sales and profits.

What can we do to make these numbers bigger? It drives everything. I get that it’s a fundamental part of being in business; I don’t like it.

We need to measure our progress. I have no issue with this. But in trying to be meaningful, our core focus must shift.

How can we do good to others if we focus too hard on our own measures of the transaction?

We need to focus on the client first.

Nothing is more critical, more fundamental to your business, than understanding your clients.

This deep understanding and shift in focus is the secret to your success.

To more sales, more profit, more freedom.

Ask yourself the following questions, honestly.

  • Who is your ideal client?
  • What pains and problems trouble them?
  • How do they view the world? What do their ‘beer-goggles’ make the world look like for them?
  • How do you solve their problems?
  • What transformation or outcome do you deliver with what you do?
  • What value do you bring to the transaction?

Stop obsessing over you – your products, your business, obsess over your clients and your business will grow.

Those transactional metrics will get bigger.

Be intentional in your marketing. Do meaningful work. Matter to your clients. Be valuable to them.

It all starts with empathy and service.

Understanding and valuing them above yourself. Above your vanity. Above the transaction.

You are seeking to serve them and deliver outcomes that matter to them. Putting their needs above your own.

Discover what these things are.

If you are getting started with an idea, dig in and get ready to do the work to figure out who your ideal client is so you can design solutions to their problems.

If you have an existing business then great, talk to the people paying you money already to figure out what these things are.

Why are they paying you money? I promise they are not buying your products or services. They are buying the ‘outcome’, the ‘transformation’ your product or service delivers.

Can you articulate what that transformation is in a few words?

If not, then it’s a sign you need to go deeper. Further down the rabbit hole of understanding exactly who your ideal client is.

Switch your focus from transactional marketing to meaningful marketing. Put the client at the centre of everything you do.

Your business and the world will be a better place because of it.