There are two different types of interactions involved with marketing a business, resourcing and transacting. Knowing the difference between the two (and understanding when to use them) is key to the success of your business.
In order to show you why, I'll have to explain the essential differences between these two very different interactions.
Consider this scenario: You go into a store and find the item you are looking for, take it to the check-out counter, pay for it and leave. This interaction is an example of a transaction. You have made an overt exchange of perceived equal value. You gave the store money and they gave you the item. This is all very straightforward and unambiguous.
Now consider this one: You are looking for an address in an unfamiliar part of town and are a bit lost. You show the address to a stranger and he or she gives you directions. You follow the directions and arrive at your destination. This interaction is an example of resourcing. The person who provided the resource (directions) did so without expecting you to provide anything in return. Once again, this is all very straightforward and unambiguous.
Now finally, consider a third scenario, where the line between these two types of interactions was blurred.
While I was working on a website project recently a design tool gave me unexpected results, so I went online, found a website that offered answers on the design tool, typed in my problem, and hit ‘submit.' The reply I got back was from someone who claimed they could tell me what was wrong and then asked what I would be willing to pay to get the answer. (They even provided me with three amounts to select from.)
This is an example of a mixed transaction/resource interaction. There was no mention of payment until I received the promise of an answer. I expected to be provided with the answer I needed for free, as is often the case when using online forums. The person on the other side expected something in return for the answer, but did not mention it up front. This interaction was not straightforward, and it created a conflict because it was not clear to both sides from the beginning what type of interaction was taking place. My response to this last minute request for payment was irritation, and I abandoned the website.
This example of a mixed transaction/resource interaction is trivial and the consequences small, but that is not always the case. If you market yourself, your products, or your services via the internet, mixed transaction/resource interactions can severely disrupt or irreparably harm your business.
When people interact, the nature of the interaction defines the nature of the relationship. If I am involved in a resourcing interaction, I am sharing what I have, know, or are capable of doing because I care about the person I am sharing with, and I want them to have what I have. In a resourcing interaction, I help you today with the expectation that at sometime in the future, when I need it, you will help me. The essence of resourcing is that an exchange is implied rather than overt, the timeframe in which it is to occur is vague and unspecified, and the value of the resources exchanged may not be equal. Resourcing is the way we build community. Resourcing is about ‘you and me together.'
On the other hand, if I am involved in a transaction, I am bartering, selling, or marketing what I have, know, or are capable of doing because it is a way to exchange what I have for what I need. I will exchange my labor, goods, or knowledge for your money, goods, or services. The essence of transactions is that an exchange is overt, the timeframe is specific, and the value of the exchange is judged to be equal by both sides. If any of these conditions is violated within the context of a transaction, we feel cheated. Transactions are the way we engage in commerce. Transactions are about you and me as separate individuals.
I have drawn a hard and fast distinction between the two, but the boundaries often blur. Internet marketers often have to move seamlessly from resourcing to transactions, while remaining clear about which they are engaged in.
A good example is Facebook. Is Facebook about social community or is it about marketing? Well, both really. Virtually everyone engaged in business on the internet uses Facebook as part of their marketing plan, but in order for it to be effective, it must also be used socially. If you do not create a Facebook community based on genuine community building, it does not matter how many "friends" you have—your marketing efforts will fall on deaf ears.
I recently "attended" a webinar where the speakers made the mistake of initiating a mixed transaction/resourcing interaction. The solicitation offered to teach me something for free. The words "teach" and "free" are key resourcing words and I expected to learn something of value.
I have been involved in enough webinars and teleclasses to know that there would be an offer of a transaction at the end where I could choose to learn more for a price. That's good marketing if I have already really been taught something of value for free. In this case, that did not happen. The entire webinar was "high level, conceptual, and vague" until the end. The transaction offer was very clear, but I was not interested because I felt that, contrary to what the solicitation originally offered, I had learned nothing of value in the free webinar. I felt robbed of my time, lied to by the presenters, and resentful of their offer of a transaction. Their product may well be excellent, but I will never know. Any good will is gone, and I delete their follow-up emails without even looking at them.
The moral of the story? Make sure you know the difference between resourcing and transactions and know when to use each!