Issue 88: The Art of Non-Transactionalism
From Serial Marketer: "The Cutting Edge of Marketing”

I had coffee last week with a friend of mine.
Actually, that's already a lie. She's not a close friend. She's a former client. I worked with her briefly a few years ago and had a terrific dinner with her that was so expensive, it made the account manager cringe; I literally had to coax my colleague into eating dinner and not starving herself just because she was anxious about submitting the receipt.
The client worked for a well-known automotive brand. Granted, pretty much any car company is well-known. There are few car company logos that wouldn't be among the most prominent on any agency's or tech company's logo slides.
I nominally stayed in touch with the client, who I'll call Betty, whether or not she worked for Ford. We had meant to catch up sometime in the past year or two but never did. Betty reached out to me several weeks ago to say she was coming to New York for an event, and we made plans to catch up. We grabbed coffee at my favorite spot in New York (Tous Les Jours on 32nd St in Koreatown, with terrific tea and pastries, and most importantly, you can always get a seat). She had since left the car company, which was just as well, as I wasn't pitching her anything and was curious about what she was up to.
One of the most memorable parts of the conversation was when we talked about how common transactionalism is in business. Betty said how so many people had told her to drop a line whenever she's in town or shared other such friendly invites. Yet once she left the car company, most of that didn't matter, and a lot of people stopped responding to her.
I didn't do anything heroic by meeting her. If anything, she put up with plenty by meeting me, as these days, it's hard for me not to be pitching something.
I also get where she is coming from, at least to some degree. I haven't worked on the brand side, but on the agency side, I was often seen as a buyer. Buyers, whoever they are, get wined and dined, and it is much easier to pitch the press, get speaking gigs, and get invites to marquis sporting events when you have any perceived influence over clients' budgets. When I left Publicis Groupe's MRY in 2016, I quickly got a sense of who was interested in me for my budget and who was interested in me for me.
There's a massive gray area here. Some people get busy. Some are just bad at responding to email or checking LinkedIn. Some people need a few reminders before they get back to you. I've seen those threads on LinkedIn in particular where I totally ghosted someone by accident, and I do that too often, especially if I forget to mark a message as unread when it comes.
But a lot of people really only care about what power, influence, and budget you have today that could directly help them. All that matters is the transaction or the potential transaction. You're a dollar sign, and if the sign's too low, you don't matter.

The flipside to this is that by being non-transactional, we can differentiate ourselves. We make it clear that the person comes first, and the title and company are tied for a distant second.

That doesn’t mean we have time to be social with everyone. In my Slack community alone, there are 900 members; I can’t meet with them all. If the member number held steady (it grows every month), that would mean meeting 75 people a month for a year. Assuming each meeting averaged an hour (with some travel time, that's a conservative estimate), that’s roughly two full 40-hour weeks just devoted to meeting each community member. If I used my Facebook or LinkedIn connections as a barometer instead, there goes my entire livelihood.

Still, I can play triage and make priorities based on factors like:
  • How good a friend the person is, as opposed to ‘work friends’ or another designation.
  • What their need is; if someone is going through a career change or has some major personal challenges, I want to find time for them.
  • If this is actually transactional and can directly benefit one or both of us. Much of my professional life involves mixing business with pleasure, and much of time that someone reaches out to me, there’s a potential hook that could make it worth my while to benefit my clients.
  • A rare opportunity, such as meeting someone briefly visiting from out of town who I haven’t seen in a while.
If none of these factors rank all that high and it doesn’t make sense to meet, there are still ways I can show an interest. Here are some ways I’m likely to respond when I can't meet or chat, especially if they don’t have a time-sensitive request:
  • “I’m juggling some major deadlines right now. Can we reconnect next month and see if the timing is better?”
  • “This isn’t a fit for me. Let me introduce you to X who can help you with this.”
  • “Finding time to talk or meet is so tough right now. Can you send me more info, and I’ll share any thoughts as soon as I can?”
  • “I’m slammed right now, but let me post something in Slack [or, if more public, the newsletter], and I can see who bites.” [I will sometimes offer to share things in other communities I’m part of; my own is not always the most relevant.]
  • “My schedule’s a mess right now. Are you around Wednesday after work? I’m co-hosting the monthly First Wednesday happy hour and would love to have you.” [I love having this event as my version of office hours.]
  • “Let me give you a quick call on my way home if you’re around so I can hear more.” [I’m in Manhattan and walk almost everywhere, so no, I’m not a distracted driver.]
There's one really simple way just to show an interest, and that's responding at all. Saying anything is (usually) so much better than saying nothing. 

Transactional meetings are usually necessary. If most of my time on the job isn’t spent doing activities that are revenue-generating in the short or mid-term for my clients or for me, it’s impossible to make a living. But then, if the only way to make a living is to devote every hour to the highest bidder, what are you living for?

As for Betty, she and I bonded in a way we couldn’t when she was my client, and I can’t wait to do business with her again. I’m pretty sure that one way or another, she’s on the verge of landing another career-defining role, and the door is now open to explore how we can collaborate when that happens.

To a fault, I think about long-term value way more than I should. Perhaps there should be a term for that: professional romanticism, where bonds between individuals create the inspiration that opens up new opportunities.

However you want to define it, it’s a privilege to get to connect with people on a human level. I selfishly believe that will help me to thrive and create more revenue for my clients and me. But it’s also the Golden Rule.

That’s what I’m trying to make sense of lately. What are you making of yourself?


PS: First Wednesday is back tonight; if you’re in New York, stop by the Royalton Park 6-9, and join the Meetup to stay current on all event updates.


There are few things I am less comfortable talking about than Britain's royal family. Or is it England's? Or the United Kingdom's? Please, no hating. When I talked to New York Times reporter Caity Weaver about this story, I kept looking up who was married to whom and if Harry or Andrew or Charles or Ringo had whichever kid. While writing this blurb, I literally didn't know how to spell Ms. Markle's first name (Meghan, apparently). But, I do know about Instagram, social data, marketing, and - most importantly - nefarious plots that evil geniuses could cook up for total world domination. I can't believe how detailed this story is. You'll also find some great input from Upstream's Alex Taub who probably has less appetite for imagining evil schemes than me but knows way more about social data.  

No, most people really aren't changing their Corona preferences. From my years at eMarketer and subsequent much longer stretch calling BS on most data that came across my desk, there's no way that the story about Corona interest plummeting due to coronavirus fears was substantive. Also, here's a dead giveaway: don't report on any research by or on behalf of a PR firm without reviewing all the original data. The Atlantic shows why this research is so spurious.  

When Twitter launched, some of the most prominent ways brands were mentioned were when consumers used it to complain about their worst customer experiences, and those typically involved either airlines or cable companies. Now, airlines are able to be more proactive, and (most) people don't want to be known as the person who's always kvetching about some trivial issue. Kambr Media's Lauryn Chamberlain looks at how airlines are using social now, and she was kind enough to include a few of my thoughts.  


Want to include your event below? Just reply with the details.

March 4
Serial Marketers has teamed up with First Wednesdays to bring back this long-standing tradition in NYC. Every month, we meet at the top-floor penthouse bar from 6-9. While Zack Rosenberg and Rachel Herskovitz post the event links on Facebook, if you want the recurring invite on your calendar, just let me know, and I'll add you to it. I'm also now sending updates via Meetup.

March 16, 2020
Austin, TX
Meet members of the community in Austin that Monday morning. Assuming the festival continues as scheduled, let's get together here.

Awards ceremony: March 27, 2020, in Venice, Italy
Voting ends today!
BOLD Awards recognizes top companies, projects and individuals powering breakthroughs around the world.

April 29-30
I loved this event so much in New York that I'm joining them in Chicago as both a speaker and media sponsor. I'll be speaking about how to build and run a successful B2B community, and of course I will be including examples from many others, with a bit of experience covering mistakes I've made that others can learn from.

May 5-7
The annual slate of thought-provoking programming returns. This is another can't miss event, even as the topics it covers expand way beyond social media as most of us know it.

May 13-14
"The premier global gathering in visual tech" is run by one of my favorite firms of any sort out there, LDV Capital. They specialize in bringing some of the best people together in all sorts of ways.


Reach out to me if you want introductions or any additional information, and let me know if you have other job postings you'd like to share. There have also been many job updates within Serial Marketers, so if you're part of that, be sure to check the #jobs channel for more. 

Senior Communications Associate
"Luminary Labs seeks a digital-savvy communications specialist to support public-facing initiatives, including open innovation programs, accelerators, and more, on behalf of our Fortune 500, government, and nonprofit clients. This is a unique opportunity to help our clients communicate complex problems, learn directly from senior leadership, and grow within a consulting firm as an in-house communications and marketing expert. This role reports to our Communications Manager."

Product Marketing Manager
LiveIntent writes, "The Product Marketing Manager (PMM) will play a key role in refining and communicating the value proposition of LiveIntent products to marketers and publishers." Apply below or see Kerel in Serial Marketers.  

Account Manager, Programmatic
Via David K. in Slack: The Account Manager is responsible for all phases of the Varick post-sale process. This entails supporting the Sales Team through the post-campaign life cycle post campaign analysis, wrap up reporting, and liasoning with traders to ensure campaign success. The Account Manager collaborates across all operational teams as well as communicates directly with clients to provide consultative support and best in class client service through strategic thinking.

VP Marketing
See details here. Reach out if you want me to refer you their way:

A strategic and creative marketing professional that has a wide breadth of experience in multiple marketing disciplines. This person:
*Will excel at building Axio's brand voice and image
*Can project manage and execute effective demand generation campaigns through events, social media, and online channels
*Has interest or curiosity about the cybersecurity space and the evolution of the industry.

Axio helps organizations understand cyber exposure, calculate risk, and make data-driven decisions that improve their security and risk posture.  

Director of Product Marketing
Via Dorothy in Slack: "I’m hiring a Director (head) of Product Marketing at Paxos in NYC. Paxos is a B2B fintech startup using blockchain tech, building infrastructure to make assets more accessible and to make them move faster in a new, open financial system. The company is full of mission-driven, smart, kind, humble, ambitious and collaborative people. Looking for a player/coach to build and run this brand new function." DM or email her in Slack, or apply directly. I can make an intro as needed.

Other job resources:
-Ad Ops Online: Job listings for ad operations, programmatic account management, sales operations, and more
-Built in NYC: Jobs at a range of levels and functions, as long as you're okay working in this quaint, backwater hamlet
-ExecThread: Senior roles spanning a range of verticals and cities; membership is free but fully vetted (this uses my referral ID to get you in faster, but I don't profit from it)
-Facebook Groups: NYC Ad Jobs & Networking
-TechNY Daily: While more technical, there are also some sales and marketing jobs at NY startups
-VentureLoop: Free startup job listings; their paid option is $15/month and might surface more leads (but it might not)

Do you run or enjoy other job listing sites? Let me know, and I'll share them.


David Berkowitz, publisher


100+ TECH RECOMMENDATIONS (updated regularly)

18 TYPES OF STARTUP MARKETERS (now in quiz form, thanks to Riddle)

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