Listen up, marketers: I've got a bone to pick.

Most marketers organise their work around collecting. Collecting more eyeballs. More content. More shares. More strangers to pitch your product, your services, your blog.

And I get the appeal. It's tempting to be a collector—more visitors means more growth, which brings more money. More recognition. More upside, and not much downside.

Here's my problem: you've become so fixated on collecting that you entirely forget about connecting.

You're spending so much time and money (nearly 75% of budgets go to acquisition) seducing strangers that don't care about you, don't trust you, and aren't listening, that you end up neglecting the customers who are paying attention.

It's like a leaky bucket: pouring more visitors in at the top might keep the numbers looking good, but if customers keep falling out the bottom, it'll never fill.

Collecting is reliable and predictable, and that's comforting when your marketing dollars are on the line. You rationalise each choice with claims that you're "making more impact," or "growing your leverage"—and you inevitably end up doing fewer things that feel like they might fail.

But being a collector is expensive. Standing above the noise and getting strangers to gift you their attention is more costly than ever before. Building trust doesn't happen overnight, and people can smell a sales pitch from a mile away.

Yet for some reason, so many companies keep pouring more time and effort into getting in front of more strangers. And I think I understand why:

Being a collector lets you avoid doing things that feel risky.

Tactics like content marketing are mostly known quantities—type the right words in and visitors come out. Yes, it takes time and money, but if it ain't broke, why fix it?

Connecting, on the other hand, feels risky. Taking a stand by putting your customers first, helping them reach their goals, and giving them a more personal experience means taking the time to understand what they really need. Time that could be spent collecting more strangers. After all, if we're not focusing on more, aren't we settling for less?

According to Seth Godin, though:

It’s not “less.”If we care enough, the opposite of more is better.

That understanding—that spending less effort on more doesn't mean settling for less—is what separates the connectors from the collectors.

Being a connector means building deep, meaningful relationships with both current and potential customers, and putting long-term value and the desire to help customers be successful over short-term gains. Putting your customers first forces you to confront those comfortable tendencies towards collection, give them the proverbial middle finger, and try something different.

And the benefits are substantial. It turns out that being a connector is 5x cheaper than being a collector, and has 2x the impact. Stronger customer relationships lead to reduced churn, more affordable marketing, and improved products or services over time. Not to mention better outcomes for your customers.

Now I'm not suggesting you chuck all your acquisition plans in the bin and only focus on conversion and retention. No business can survive without a steady stream of new visitors. What I would love to see, though, is more companies joining the growing movement towards putting relationships above content.

Being connectors.

There's just too many of you out there focused on more when in reality, you could be having a greater impact by focusing on being better.

Over the next few weeks, I'm gonna bring you much more on how personalising your marketing and customer experience can help you increase your sales while spending less on finding new customers. You'll learn how to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time, how to get your users and customers to trust you more, and how to stop treating your customers like strangers and create more relevant (and higher-converting) emails and sales pages.

Basically, you'll learn how to be a connector instead of a collector.

Where will you plant your flag?

If you're ready to start getting personal and putting your customers first but you don't know where to start, say hi!