ATRALA is a relational Framework for Client Relationships in Marketing, Faithful Delivery in Operations, and Maximized Engagement in People management. Building on the foundational awareness that a person's relationship to any enterprise is progressive, ATRALA lays out a spectrum of cooperative stages as a guide to engaging participants from a variety of audiences in a Enterprise Experience (a service, product, initiative, program, activity, etc).
Related articles can be accessed by visiting Category:ATRALA.
What We Need Now: Relational Integrity in Marketing and Delivery
Massive cultural shifts have rewritten human expectations across the board. Our constant-drip, media-saturated society daily produces millions of messages, mounds of information, and thousands of brand impressions. The endless parade of products, opportunities, options, and warnings have lead to increased audience resistance and a famine of attention. People have had enough junk pushed at them at virtually everyone agrees the pace of increasing complexity has overtaken them. They want to simplify their connections to those that present real, growing value. They want an experience that enhances life by adding value that grows with use and sharing. They want something saturated with virtue that contributes to the greater cause.
In the same way, many businesses have undergone an "Authenticity awakening" as the Rise of Complexity spreads discontinuous rapid change through fragmentation, mixing, and flattening. In such a world, each human's core identity and authentic connections are all that feels real. This has lead many entrepreneurs and business leaders to seek ways to form deeper, more meaningful, and more reliable relationships with participants that exchange hype for quality and hustle for cooperative value exchange.
The ATRALA Matrix is a framework for collaboration that builds deeper relationships between enterprises, people, and communities in the process of creating valuable business experiences for Multiple Audiences (internal, market, collaborators, and supply chain) . Built on Centered-set Thinking, ATRALA engages audience members, invites them into participation, and draws them deeper into the experience and mission of the business. In contrast to Bounded-set Thinking where the core strategy is to increase the likelihood customers will "cross the line" and make a purchase, success in ATRALA is measured by how deeply the consumer travels into the mission, identity, and community of the business experience in a spectrum of relationship that extends far beyond the bottom line.
ATRALA In Contrast With Conventional Marketing
Since the 1960's, marketing thinking has been dominated by the Four P's of Marketing. This approach begins from the position: "we have something to sell, so how do we get people to buy it?" A Marketing Mix is then constructed in 4 board categories: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. In the worst case, this approach can be experienced as adversarial, coercive, or manipulating. Since enterprise-customer relationships are framed by transaction, people can easily feel "used" in the marketing process. This tends towards consumer alienation since uni-directional communication rubs against people's resistance to channels that push information.
More recently, consumer-centered models of marketing have been suggested. Playing on the earlier model, The Four C's of Marketing adjust the mix according to Commodity, Cost, Channel, Communication (or Consumer, Cost, Convenience, and Communication). With more emphasis on listening, the Four C's model is generally experienced as less manipulative, though some consumers still feel the enterprise is listening in order to sell. While friendlier, this model lacks a compelling reason or context for collaboration with the costomer to grow value together. Without some larger purpose than the value of the offering, people are often left looking for something more: a relationship where they are actually known, a product experience that does not ring hollow, and a larger purpose that contributes to personal and corporate meaning.
We developed the ATRALA model to describe marketing in more relational and conversational terms. While it provides context for many of the issues addresses the Four P's and Four C's models, it invites consumers and stakeholders to join the Participatory Strategic Culture of the enterprise to build Value and Virtue cooperatively. Instead of seeing the business and its offering as separate from the consumer-base and their lives, it sees enterprise as part of the fabric of an integral whole -- with implications for both business and consumer opportunity and responsibility. ATRALA is best categorized with Permission, Relational, and Authentic Marketing models, which are especially useful transactions where mutual growth and transformation of both consumer and producer are desired.
Because of this relational focus, ATRALA forms a foundation for deepening enterprise-participant relationships in audiences beyond the market. Any business experience that creates mutual value can benefit from a structured process based on ATRALA.
Rather than a rigid method or list of activities, ATRALA is a general framework for thinking through the process of building enterprise-participant relationships. It seeks to follow natural rhythms or pathways of human connectedness. ATRALA mirrors the developmental stages of many types of relationships like friendship, entering a community, or dating.
The stages of ATRALA map out a flexible sequence of progressive connectedness: Awareness, Trial, Relevance, Affinity, Loyalty, and Advocacy.
A - Awareness
Potential participants in your audience become aware of the Enterprise Experience you are offering (a service, product, initiative, program, activity, etc). The audience must be impressed with the value (benefit) and virtue (meaning) claim of the experience within the window of their attention. At this point, these potential participants have committed nothing to the relationship other than the time and energy to feed their curiosity. Given the noisiness of most peoples' lives, value should be added to the relationship even in this initial stage, even if just aesthetic or conceptual. In the later case, the increasing emphasis on Integral Living means many potential participants will perceive value if the enterprise demonstrates the connective and clarifying power of the experience they offer. In many cases, this aesthetic and conceptual value requires a high degree of open narrative that allows broad attachment of impressions to brand symbols. As the perception of value and virtue builds and is attached to the brand identity, audience members become participants and transition to the Trail stage.
T - Trial
Participants enter into a low-commitment relationship within the enterprise experience of which they are now aware. The trial represents an invitation from the enterprise to judge whether the claimed value and virtue is present in the experience as promised, and to assign this judgment to the brand. The subtext of this judgment is whether or not the Direction and Identity of the enterprise can be trusted. On the surface, the relational conversation is about the trial experience and whether it creates an impression that overcomes the perceived risk of a deeper relationship (lost money, time, well-being, status, etc.). Under the surface, the conversation is about what kind of partner the enterprise might be in co-creating benefits and meaning based on how well they represent the Universal Core Values of openness, clarity, and consistency (or knowledge, efficiency, delivery for audiences still emphasizing the core values of Republic-Industrial Age). If the surface conversation is not satisfactory, participants will exit the relationship with a new resistance to the brand and, in some cases, similar categories of experience. When the surface conversation is satisfactory, but the subtext is weak, participants will generally maintain a transactional connection to the enterprise, taking what value they can without further exposure to risk or cost. In cases where both the surface and subtext conversations are strong, the participants will indicate trust by allowing the enterprise to speak more directly to its relevance, leading to the next stage.
R - Relevance
Participants grant permission for the enterprise to speak to how the experience might add value and virtue to their lives adequately, but not exclusively. While open to deepening the relationship if the experiences merits, these participants have not committed to the enterprise or any user-community attached to it. If nothing erodes trust in the fragile new relationship, participants will begin to more actively explore the suitability, durability, accessibility, and extendability (scope) of the experience. Often, they will expose the experience to opinion-consultants in their circle of influence and will appreciate help from the enterprise to do so more easily. This is the first opportunity for co-created, co-beneficial value and virtue, since the enterprise usually has permission to enter the Awareness stage with these opinion-consultants as long as they do so in a non-aggressive posture. At this tenuous point, the listening posture of the enterprise becomes essential, giving permission for testing and exploration and gently aligning the participants perceived or declared terms of engagement with the direction and identity embedded in the experience. When the participant responds to this alignment and connects more deeply to the underlying direction and identity of the enterprise, they will transition to the Affinity stage.
A - Affinity
Participants have formed a meaningful attachment to the value and virtue of the experience and the underlying direction and identity of the enterprise. At this stage the attachment is tangible but, since it is on the level of personal preference, it is not yet durable. While the context for trust exists, the participants are look for demonstrations of the consistency promised when they were drawn in by the openness and clarity of the experience. This requires time and layers of value that grow with engagement and use. If the enterprise or the experience falters in its consistency, whether the fault lies with the enterprise or the participants, the participants generally expect the enterprise to "chase" them and make things right. As consistency is proven, trust grows along with openness to and expectation of a more mutually-valuable experience and deeper relationship. Generally, when the participants no longer perceive risk to their own direction and identity, they are ready for the Loyalty-Advocacy stages.
L - Loyalty
Participants now incorporate the value and virtue of the experience within their personal narrative and see the direction and identity of the enterprise as parallel with their own. They perceive a level of exclusivity in the relationship on the level of mutual investment, meaning a loss of experience and relationship would be a personal loss. In terms of expectations, the participants expect some ownership of the brand, even if just an outlet for feed back and optimization. A common strategic and cultural vocabulary has been established that forms the context for collaboration and the mutually-beneficial promotion both participant and enterprise interests within the experience (as compared with Advocacy, see below).
A - Advocacy
(Can be simultaneous with Loyalty.) Participants own the value and virtue of the experience so closely that they see the direction and identity of the enterprise as convergent with their own (compare with Loyalty above). Ownership of the brand is so high, participants see it as collaborative property to some extent, and expect permission to advance the brand according to the meaning and benefit they have assigned to it. Value and virtue grows along these lines of collaboration, and as long as attentiveness remains in the relationship, participants will engage the relationship and promote the experience naturally. At this point, participants in some way embody the experience and direction-identity of the enterprise and are willing to commit to do work that adds value outside the context of the experience itself.
While ATRALA is presented as a linear sequence above, it can also be cyclical or, more realistically, spiral. In the case of a cyclical sequences, participants may move through the matrix seasonally or when they are prompted by messages and symbols that represent components of the experience. In the case where relationships take a spiral geometry, participant make progress through the stages but may cycle back for reinforcement or as the reality of the experience requires testing and trust-building.
- Web-based Delivery Models: ATRALA is useful for planning relational progression with multiple audiences in on-line enterprise environments including social network sites, service support sites, marketing sites, collaboration sites, and hybrids of any of these types.