Background and Definition
In the context of integration and globalization, distances in geography, space and time as well as cultural practices of countries are gradually shrinking. Enterprises’ business environments are not confined within their country but reach out regionally and worldwide. The opportunities, challenges and competition among businesses therefore rise significantly.
Besides, today the world becomes flatter, information is shared easier and open. Forms of products and services as well as the their quality, marketing strategy and the delivery method are easily copied.
But there is one thing that cannot be copied. It is RELATIONSHIP.
Enterprises can learn from each other how to build and maintain relationship but the relationship cannot be imitated.
Thus, relationship and networking are increasingly effective nowadays in business environment.
Also, recent studies show that behavior of customers during making purchase decisions rely more on more on emotional factors and are impacted by lot parties. Internet provides consumers with much information of the product and service and makes them smarter. Thus, business opportunities are shared quite equally among enterprises but only the one who can effectively attract clients, build relationship with them, continuously engage them with updated and innovative information and product/service will win.
In such changing business environment, enterprise’s marketing is also developed and updated to better serve for business strategy and operation. Besides traditional marketing models and in recent years there are more new marketing models that focus on building relationships. Relationship marketing focuses on mutual relationship with not only clients but also parties that involve in the whole life-cycle of a products or services. Relationship marketing is the factors that create differences to the enterprise and help them stand out of competitors.
Relationship marketing is about building long-term relationships with clients rather than trying to close a one-off deal with clients. Relationship marketing tries to boost customer loyalty by providing exemplary products and services.
There are lot definitions of relationship marketing from marketing experts and activists and below are some among thousands:
“A supplier builds and maintains trustful long term relationships with a group of clients (partners) in order to carry out repeat transactions to everyone’s satisfaction. This process leads to the creation of a marketing network that becomes one of the supplier’s prior assets” (BAEYENS)
“Relationship marketing is to identify and establish, maintain and enhance and, when necessary, terminate relationships with customers and other stakeholders, at a profit so that the objectives of all parties are met; this is done by mutual exchange and the fulfillment of promises.” (Gronroos 1994)
“Relationship marketing is a strategy designed to foster customer loyalty, interaction and long-term engagement. It is designed to develop strong connections with customers by providing them with information directly suited to their needs and interests and by promoting open communication. I view relationship marketing as a brand’s ability to create an emotional connection with the consumer” (Steve Olenski 2013)
“Thinking in terms of having customers, not merely acquiring customers” (Berry 1983)
“Relationship marketing is about forming long-term relationships with customers. Not only obtaining a one-time sale, relationship marketing tries to build up customer loyalty by providing consistent satisfaction on products and services. This is different than most normal advertising practices that focus on a single transaction; watch ad A and buy product B. Relationship marketing, by contrast, is usually not linked to a single product or offer. It involves a company refining the way they do business in order to maximize the value of that relationship for the customer”. (http://www.marketing-schools.org/types-of-marketing/relationship-marketing.html)
Generally, relationship marketing is a marketing method that serves for the purpose of building and managing relationships and long-term trust with customers, with suppliers as well as with all other agents in the market. The goal of the relationship marketing is to bring long-term value for customers to earn their consistent satisfaction that is the measure of the success of the business. This approach also aims to build stronger relationships with existing customers, to strengthen their faith in the quality of products and to encourage reuse of enterprise’s products.
Relationship marketing mainly involves the improvement of internal operations. Many customers leave a company not because they didn’t like the product, but because they were frustrated with the customer service. If a business streamlines its internal operations to satisfy all service needs of their customers, customers will be happier even in the face of product problems.
TECHNOLOGY also plays an important role in relationship marketing. The Internet has made it easier for companies to track, store, analyze and then utilize vast amounts of information about customers. Customers are offered personalized ads, special deals, and expedited service as a token of appreciation for their loyalty. Social media sites allow business to engage their customers in an informal and ongoing way. In the past, it would have been impossible to keep useful records about every single client, but technology makes it easy for companies to automate their marketing efforts.
BRANDING is the final component of relationship marketing. A company can form a long-term relationship with a client if that client feels like the brand they purchase reflects who they are or who they want to be. Customers are less inclined to switch to a different brand if they think that switch makes a statement about their identity.