Moving Beyond Limited Marketing Thinking

Using Relational Marketing and Mutual Relationship Marketing to Achieve Better Customer Retention

What is the most important relationship element of a successful business?  – Customers. Without customers, there are no sales, no achieving objectives; eventually no employees either.

Whether short term or long term, all business is about relationships and exchanges of value, externally as well as internally. This of course should be one of the basic definitions of marketing.

Whether it is building relationships with customers, partners, employees, and/or vendors, everything successful about your business depends on the relationships formed

The basic business transaction is that between the seller and a buyer. The most basic purpose of all marketing is to develop, encourage and facilitate a value exchange process between provider (seller) and buyer to achieve objectives

It is important for you as well as your partners in the value adding chain, to consider mutual relationship building with your customers. You can do this from the first point of contact to the final interaction, with relationship marketing.

Marketing Strategies

As I have written about before, there are two basic versions of marketing – the traditional (older and more limited) Transactional Marketing and the relatively more recent Relational Marketing Strategy.

While Transactional marketing is focused on the provider (seller) achieving their own objectives as quickly as possible, Relational marketing, is focused on both buyer and provider (seller) achieving their objectives by working together.

Relational marketing sees the sale as the first step in the building of a relationship – creating an on-going customer.

Relational Marketing Strategy refers to the primary strategic goal (and attendant objectives) of building long-term and mutually beneficial arrangements where both the buyer and seller have an interest in maintaining a more satisfying exchange.  Thus, if the company can build a relationship with the customer – find out who he or she is, what needs are important, it will be able to gain a lot more than just the ad hoc approach of transactional marketing.

Relational marketing recognises the value of building and maintaining customer relationships as the path to long term success, while still being able to use traditional (as well as new) Marketing Mix methods.

Relational Marketing treats marketing as a process that not only seeks current sales but sets out to build them over time, rather than single partially connected events.

Mutual Relationship Marketing differs from Relationship Marketing

Mutual Relationship Marketing is a strategy where the company and aligned partners combine their efforts – Products (both goods and services) to form mutually beneficial relationships to acquire and maintain customers over longer period.  It is a strategic attempt to involve more exchange partners in building a long-term association characterised by purposeful co-operation and mutual dependence and the development of social, as well as structural bonds.

There have been many definitions of Relationship Marketing.  Most of them concentrating on the relationship to be formed with customers by a single provider.

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_marketing) says “Relationship marketing was first defined as a form of marketing developed from direct response marketing campaigns which emphasises customer retention and satisfaction, rather than a dominant focus on sales transactions”  This seems more like the definition of Relational Marketing.

The American Marketing Association Dictionary (http://www.marketingpower.com/_layouts/Dictionary.aspx) says Relationship marketing is “Marketing with the conscious aim to develop and manage long-term and/or trusting relationships with customers, distributors, suppliers, or other parties in the marketing environment.”  This shows a wider concept than just a focus on the customers of one company.

The following is a definition that takes an extended approach.

Mutual Relationship marketing is a strategy where the firm and partners provide combined products (goods and services) by forming mutually beneficial relationships to acquire and maintain customers– resulting better value outcomes for all parties. It focuses on the value enhancement of combining to provide a better overall product experience (both goods and services) to the same customers.

Mutual Relational Marketing better combines and manages the customer experience along the whole (or part) of the value adding chain Thus (for example) a combined offer that includes the manufacturer, retailer credit provider, installer and customer support.

A Mutual Relational Marketing approach recognises that a customer may value a combined approach to solving their purchase needs, rather than having to undertake a number of activities themselves to achieve the satisfaction of owning and using the product.

Goals of Mutual Relationship Marketing

A relationship marketing approach, within a Relational Marketing Strategy framework should have four basic goals:

Greater Customer Satisfaction – Relationship marketing relies upon increasing the total satisfaction of a customer. By providing quality goods and a holistic and personal selling strategy, each individual customer becomes relevant to the total customer base.

Access to More Customers – though natural sharing between customers

Customer Retention – Relationship marketing is also focused on retention. By providing exemplary customer service and exceeding the customer’s expectations, they will want to do business with you again and again. It is human nature to do business and have contact with others who make us feel comfortable and offer a pleasant experience.

Lower Costs in Customer Acquisition and Retention – Because the resources of more companies are mutually shared

Now certainly establishing Mutual Relationship Marketing with other providers may not be easy.  It is afterall a more formalised version of the the well known channels of distribution – vertical marketing – and will require goodwiil, good understanding, good management to make it work.  But the results and benefits may well be worth the effort.

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