What is Relationship Marketing?
Relationship marketing focuses on using customer service and quality of service as benchmarks in a company’s marketing activities. Relationship marketing campaigns are developed by looking at the lifetime relationship with clients rather than the individual dealings in order to increase profit. In relationship marketing, the goal is to satisfy and retain clients in order to create long-term profitable relationships.
Relationship Marketing Background
Leveraging existing customer relationships in marketing began in the 1960s through direct-response marketing campaigns. However, the term “relationship marketing” wasn’t used until 1983 when Leonard Berry wrote the book, “Relationship Marketing.”
Benefits of Relationship Marketing
It’s obvious that there is a lot to be gained by marketing to your existing client base. Here are some of the positive results:
- Happier clients who trust you and your business
- Repeat and new business from existing clients means more profitable relationships
- Client-provided feedback and quality insight into your business
- A boost in word of mouth referrals and recommendations
- A willingness to pay more for your services
- Brand engagement and loyalty
Plus, studies have shown that it costs less to keep an existing customer than it does to acquire a new customer, both in terms of marketing and the new-relationship learning curve.
There are also benefits from relationship marketing to the client. Because their needs become a primary focus in your business, they get better service, quicker responses and have to do less work to make sure their needs are being met.
There aren’t a lot of downsides to focusing on the needs of your clients and leveraging the relationship in order to market your business, but of course, it’s not always successful. The biggest drawback is the possibility that you will invest significant time and money courting and attempting to retain a client who leaves. As with any business activities, there are no guarantees that your efforts will be successful.
Another drawback can be the challenge of making sure all employees, subcontractors and team members are on-board with your customer-focused approach and maintain that in all of their dealings with the client.
Relationship Marketing In Your Business
Successful relationship marketing requires consistent client outreach and exceptional customer service. Some activities you might consider in your relationship marketing campaigns include:
- Instituting a one-day response time on all calls/emails
- Sending relevant articles, tools and resources to your clients
- Asking clients for feedback (and using it to improve)
- Offering incentives for referrals
- Distributing regular newsletters and company updates
- Getting to know the client’s business so you can anticipate their needs
- Handling dissatisfaction quickly and thoroughly
Relationship marketing can apply to every business in every industry, and even if you don’t make it your sole marketing strategy, there is tremendous value in putting the focus on the client. It can make your business and your brand stronger.
How do you focus on relationship marketing in your business? What are some ways you keep your clients happy and coming back?
- Customer Relationship Marketing by CRM Today
- Customer Relationships Are Key to Your Marketing Strategy on About.com
- Securing Brand Loyalty Through Relationship Marketing on eMarketer.com
Image credit: thadz
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