The relationship marketing strategy developed from the direct response marketing campaigns popular in the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s. These campaigns emphasized the importance of customer retention and continued customer satisfaction, rather than an emphasis on individual transactions, and per-case customer resolution.
What is Relationship Marketing?
Relationship marketing is a type of strategic marketing that targets it’s audience with more direct information on the specific products and services a customer may have interest in. It differs from other forms of marketing in that it seeks to retain customers by building relationships with them, rather than a direct or intrusive strategy, which focuses on acquisition of new clients by targeting majority demographics, based upon prospective client lists purchased from third party sources.
As traditional marketing took off in the 60′s and 70′s, companies found it more difficult to sell consumer products. The original model had developed into a system, which focused on selling relatively low-value products in mass quantities to a higher volume of consumers. Since the beginning of modern day marketing platforms, many methods have been developed in an attempt to broaden its scope. Relationship marketing grew out of this era, and is one example of an attempt to expand the reach and applicability of marketing.
Simply put, relationship marketing focuses on targeting the relationship of company to customer. If you have an existing customer base, it makes sense to learn what these customers like about your products and services and how you as a company can improve on this. If you build on the good relationships you already have with your customers, and create customer loyalty, this is more valuable than putting energy towards always attempting to gain new business.
Defensive Marketing vs. Offensive Marketing
Relationship marketing can be understood in simple football-like terms of offensive and defensive approaches. “Defensive” marketing and “offensive” marketing are terms that were coined by C. Fornell and B. Wernerfelt in 1987.
Defensive marketing describes attempts to reduce customer turnover, increase customer loyalty and retain the customer base already in place, by keeping them happy with your service, and interested in your products. In contrast, offensive marketing seeks to obtain new customers and increase purchase frequency. Defensive marketing focuses on reducing, or better managing customer dissatisfaction, while offensive marketing focuses on “liberating” dissatisfied customers from competitors and moving them into the offensive marketer’s customer base essentially getting customers to switch teams.
Customer & Consumer Relationships
Relationship marketing is a key collaborative strategy to retain customers. It is essentially an offshoot of customer and consumer relationship management. The theory is this; attracting new customers is more costly, yet less profitable than developing existing client loyalty. By developing and promoting your existing client base through research and an understanding, you will create a loyal client base for years to come, with less expense and higher returns. Building lasting relationships with the clients you already have is a recipe for long-term marketing success.