American marketing guru speaks to Israeli NPOs

Yastrow believes businesses should focus on building a small number of long-standing collaborative relations.

When American marketing expert Steve Yastrow first met with representatives of the Bank of Jerusalem five years ago to purchase property in Israel, he found an organization that was broadcasting on his wavelength in its approach to customer service - or, as Yastrow says, forming customer relationships. "What I saw right away was that they were more interested in what kind of relationship they could create with me than what kind of services they could dispense to me," Yastrow told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. For the Bank of Jerusalem, Yastrow's satisfaction is quite an achievement. The author of two marketing books, the second of which was published just two weeks ago (We: The Ideal Customer Relationship), Yastrow is a leading authority on customer relations, and has developed an innovative theory on how businesses and their clients should interact. As the title of his book suggests, Yastrow believes businesses should not be thinking along the limited confines of "us" and "them" (the customers), but should focus on building a small number of long-standing collaborative relations in which companies and customers form a collective entity with common interests. Today, Yastrow's rapport with the Bank of Jerusalem seems to exemplify that concept. An initial inquiry into property has evolved to the point where Yastrow will deliver a talk on Wednesday to the Bank of Jerusalem's extensive nonprofit organization (NPOs) clientele, in order to give them much-valued tips on how to market themselves to potential donors. In Israel, NPOs make up a sizable part of the economy - 12 percent of the gross domestic product - and can't be ignored. That's why they could use some cutting-edge advice on how to approach donors, Matti Munk, manager of the non-profit department at the Bank of Jerusalem, told the Post Tuesday. NPOs that use the Bank of Jerusalem's services include hospitals, universities, museums, former Gush Katif residents and groups interested in settling the Negev. Yastrow told the Post his message for NPOs was the same as the one he delivers to companies. "NPOs and for-profit businesses face very similar issues," he said, adding, "Customers have many choices, whether for buying products or for which charitable organizations they're going to support. In order to earn the support of customers, you need to connect with them in a new way." "The traditional tools of marketing just don't work that well anymore, and the main reason is that people buy differently," Yastrow said. Well-informed and demanding customers no longer fall for claims of product superiority, he stressed, saying that "what really makes the most difference is whether they have a relationship."