Relationship Life-cycle Management -
Just like a product progresses through a sequence of stages, a new relationship advances through a process of stages which is characterized by several manifestations and dimensions associated with the human nature. For the purpose of clarity, I will term this sequence as “Relationship Life Cycle” which bears resemblance as in the case of a product; Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline stages.
It’s a process of managing the entire life-cycle of a relationship from introductory stage through the mid-levels that leads to either an emotional decline or a stronger attachment. Like any product life-cycle, efforts in the growth and maturity stages are quite lower than efforts in the introductory stage. At introductory stage, there is a struggle for acceptance, there is a need to convince the buyer, there is a need to sell and package oneself to build confidence that will lead to loyalty to the product. In most relationship –by most I mean a large number of people in relationship, married or unmarried, have you ever noticed that call rate, chats and excitement declines overtime and the fire isn’t as flammable as it used to be when He or She first said hello? This write-up will clearly use the concept of Product life-cycle to explain this noticeable phenomenon.
Few characteristic of a product is that it commands a value, comes in a package (branding) and its Content meets a need. As humans Our value are determined by the worth of what we can offer, how we brand what we offer and how much need we can satisfy will determine how much we are valued by people around us and in our relationship too. The market place for this product is our heart.
INTRODUCTION: This stage is characterized by product awareness; the product here is the individuals in the relationship. Here, both parties sells themselves to each other from the physical features of the product which with branding and packaging, the product could either be luring at a glance but highly deceptive when compared with its content. At this stage, there is quite a lot to talk about to convince a purchase and it takes an insightful customer to understand that content should be considered. By buying, you have accepted to be vulnerable to the excesses of that purchase; sadly there are little regulatory agencies that check the authenticity of these products before they are bought these days hence the difficulty encountered to make a purchase.
Measuring the progress of a relationship is done using some indices which is measured against the outlined stages. Like any new product in the market, marketing strategist over a period of time conduct a survey to check the product acceptance, sales volume and these figures measured against input to carefully analysis the progress of their efforts. The failure of most relationships mainly boils down to the inability on the part of the parties or producers to carefully analyze progress instead accepting an outcome in naivety. Relationship should be subjected to an approach of evaluating success and where input have not yielded the desired outcome within that stage, like a product, a withdrawal is highly advised.
GROWTH: The product here seeks to build brand preference and increase their relevance in the hearts of each individual in the relationship. By doing this, the product after being introduced into the market thrives to grow in the market – which is the heart as such, strategies including campaign; Advertisement to increase loyalty is done.
Product differentiation is a strategy used to woo themselves indirectly by selling themselves differently from their previous relationship and telling themselves why is important for the other party to buy their own product. Study overtime have shown that individuals (product) make use of media platforms, resume, achievements, vision, goals, dates, calls, and all the other Mushy things to sell themselves. Ladies and Gentlemen, this stage is as important as the previous, the product does not have to be too flashy to appeal to you; moderation is highly needed, you don’t have to go over the boundary to please a prospect at your expense – just be you.
MATURITY STAGE: Here, after a successful campaign to woo each other, and having found a way into their individual markets there is a noticeable decline in the Adverts (Calls, Messages, and dwindling excitements, gifts buying, surprises).
Note: Each stage is very important and it is advisable for individuals to know which stage they are for the sole purpose of evaluating success either by how far they have come or by projections.
DECLINE STAGE: This stage ends the product life-cycle and for most people they find it very difficult to continue and can’t seem to understand how they got to this stage and where they got it wrong. Strategists around the world have always avoided this stage hence the need for constant evaluation and from time to time, visit the attributes of the introductory stage to spark the fire again and again.
It is important to note that unlike the product life-cycle, most relationship doesn’t make it through the maturity stage and its ends quickly after the introductory stage and sometimes, there isn’t any sexual activity before it ends. Meaning, it could either go from Introduction to decline stage.
Most importantly is that, some products have understood this market so much that they do not decline. Not because they are not in the decline stage, but they have found a way of retaining a great market share and engage in a constant Awareness, reassurance of their commitment to compromise, serve and communicate and stay loyal. Here it means that the couples avoid decline by rekindling the fire every day, ensuring that the introductory excitements stays stronger than expected. That is why you see most couples (products) celebrating 45 Years of being in the market (heart) and still remain playful and excited like the first day. The secret is called ‘Spark’. Spark means identifying that there is a tendency of decline and adjusting by compromising.
The area beyond spark is a break point and when a relationship goes beyond that stretch, it is difficult but not impossible to go back to previous excitements that is why you have separation, divorce and a total breakup. It is the duty of both parties, to note this point and make necessary adjustments – Prayer is KEY here, change of environment is allowed, a little dirt *wink* is advised.
We have market leaders and market followers; the leaders understand the importance of the spark factor but the followers learn by constantly looking up to the leaders for counselling. Just as some products in the market are followers, as couples in a relationship, we should find carefully that leader to learn from if we don’t want to fall beyond the spark level.
I will end by saying – “critics may decide to criticize my product approach to humans, but before you criticize, what stage is your relationship in”?
Have a blessed day.
Nwazuosa Nkem Kennedy