Relationship Action Plan

The Relationship Road Map


Build the List

Who are the top 100-1000 relationships that helped you get to where you are today and who will help you get to where you want to be tomorrow?  Consider employees, clients, referral partners, industry influencers, media, suppliers, mentors, the board of directors, advisors, and others.

Make a list of their names, spouses names, address, email, and phone number to make follow up easy.

Shorten the list until you are comfortable with the budget but don’t lessen the economic value per impression.

Determine Economic Value of the Relationship

Consider reinvesting 1% of the lifetime economic value of the relationship as the target investment amount.  In most cases, this works out to be 5% of the annual margin for a relationship. 


Every organization works on different margin targets and has different objectives, so the following formula should be considered a guideline when determining the value to reinvest into a relationship.  This is the framework we use at Ruhlin Group. 


We use the following formula when calculating the value as it considers both immediate value and total lifetime value.


Annual margin of the relationship X 5%

Annual margin of the relationship X anticipated years retained


The target we are shooting for is a 1% annual reinvestment of the lifetime value. 



$10,000 annual margin X 5% = 500
$10,000 annual margin x 5 years  =50,000
500/50,000 = 1%

In some cases, a client may have a shorter anticipated life cycle.  In such a case, we would lower the % reinvested annually to meet the 1% lifetime value target.  Let’s look at a relationship with a two-year anticipated life cycle. 

$10,000 annual margin X 2% = 200
$10,000 X 2 years = 20,000
200/20,000 = 1%

Likewise, in some cases, a client may have a longer anticipated life cycle.  In such a case, we would consider reinvesting more annually to meet the 1% lifetime value target.  The maximum life cycle we use is ten years.

$10,000 X 10% = 1,000
$10,000 X 10 = 100,000
1,000/100,000 = 1%

The Artifact of the Relationship

Using the economic value of the relationship to select the gifts.  Use the price of a nice dinner or a round of golf as the barometer ($100-1000).  Use the following 18 questions to evaluate the plan.

  1. Is it best in class?
  2. Is it unique?
  3. Is it practical and useful?
  4. Is it lasting or consumable?
  5. Is it personalized?
  6. Is the program easily duplicated?
  7. Does the gift include the inner circle?
  8. Is it a surprise or is it expected?
  9. Will it be used daily, and seen by others?
  10. Is it a gift or promotion?
  11. What is the next gift in the sequence?
  12. Is the investment in line with the value of the relationship?
  13. What is the theme of the gift?
  14. Do you have the resources to execute the program yourself, or do you need help with execution?
  15. Is the gift universal?
  16. Are your gifts timed for maximum impact?
  17. What is the frequency of the gifts?
  18. Is the gift something the recipient would (really, really) want?


Surprise and Delight

Using planned randomness to determine the gift frequency and schedule.

Don’t send gifts around popular holidays, and especially not between Thanksgiving and Christmas! Your gift will likely get lost in the noise and will not have the same impact as the same gift sent at a different time of year.

Pick random dates, or obscure holidays, and center your gift giving campaign around that. When a gift is unexpected, it automatically has more value.


Cost per impression calculation

If you send someone a lasting gift, they will be able to use it over and over again. Every time they see the gift, they will be reminded of their relationship with you. You can spend $1,500 on a sporting event, and a nice dinner and the gift will soon be forgotten, making it a high cost per impression. Conversely, you can spend $1,500 on a knife set and remain top of mind every time they prepare a meal. This will lower your cost per impression to mere cents over time.
Investment/How many times they interact with it = Cost Per Impression