business

Relationship Marketing

Relationship Marketing is targeted at building stronger and long lasting relationships with clients and other companies. The business is done with a strategic orientation, where the relationship is improved with existing customers rather than finding new customers. It is meant to cater to the needs of individual customers. Its major part involves studying the need of the customer and how it changes in different circumstances.

Relationship marketing applies techniques like marketing, sales, customer care and communication. The relationship is not only enhanced but its life period is increased by these strategies. And as the customer realizes the value of relationship, they are drawn closer. This marketing not only focuses on building relationship and attracting customers to their products and services but also how to retain them.

A raw form of Marketing came into existence in the 1960s. But, organizations were still facing difficulty in selling products, so a system was developed to sell low cost goods to larger group of customer. Leonard Berry and Jag Sheth originated this marketing, in 1982. It was started in B2B markets and industries, which involved long term contracts for many years. Over the period of time, various marketing strategies were improved and relationship marketing was one of them.

Relationship marketing is applicable where the customers have many options in the market for the same product or service and the customer is entitled to make a selection decision. In such a kind of market, businesses try to maintain their clients by providing comparatively better products and good service and hence, achieving customer loyalty. And once it is achieved it becomes difficult for competitors to do well in the market. The customer turnover wasn’t paid attention on as the main attention was on customer satisfaction. This kind of marketing was initially named as defensive marketing. Offensive marketing is the marketing strategy where not only new customers are attracted, but also the sales are stepped up by increasing the purchase frequency. This kind of marketing concentrates on freeing dissatisfied customers and acquiring new customers.

According to a research, the cost of retaining an old customer is only ten percent of the cost of getting a new customer, which makes sense to not to run around to get new customers in relationship marketing. And according to another research done by cross-sectional analysis, says that, a five percent improvement in customer retention is responsible for twenty-five to eighty-five percent of the profit. Usually high cost is incurred when getting new customers, so if sufficient number of existing customers is retained, there will be no need of acquiring new customers.

Once the customer trust is gained his chances of switching to other company becomes relatively less, he buys goods in bulk, he buys other supplementary goods and he starts neglecting average price variation. This maintains the unit sales volume and there is an increase in dollar-sales volume. The existing customers will be like a living advertisement. If he is satisfied with the company he will recommend it to his friends and acquaintances.

Since the existing customers are familiar with the process, it will take less time and money to educate them about the procedures putting fewer burdens on employees also and making them feel more satisfied with their jobs. The customers are divided into groups based on their loyalty. This procedure is known as relationship ladder of customer loyalty. The groups in ascending order are prospects, customer, client, supporter, advocate and partner.

Due to the advancement in computers and Internet, software has been developed to facilitate customer relationship management. With the help of this software the tastes, activities, preferences, and complaints of customers are tracked. Almost all the companies have this software in their marketing strategy, which benefits the customer as well as the company.

Thus the main aim of relationship marketing is to construct and maintain relationship with committed clients who are meant to bring profit to the company. The other benefits achieved are confidence building and social benefits.

Marketing and Sales: What is the difference?

Marketing and sales are one of the most important components of a business’s survival in the market. While both are dependent on each other many people confuse marketing with sales and vice-versa which is a big mistake. Marketing involves designing a product according to the needs of the market and customers, promoting the product through advertising etc. and setting up a competitive price for the product. Marketing is a platform which drives sales. While on the other hand the sales process is what you do to successfully sell a product and fetch a contract. Sales and marketing together is a part of selling and one cannot do without the other. They can also be called activities. The success of a business is critical to the success of these two important activities.

Marketing is the backbone of a company’s future and launching pad for the sales. While the marketing process encompasses the design of the product, advertising etc. the sales process is the execution of all the efforts which involves direct interaction with client either by in-person meeting or cold calls or by networking. But there is always an ongoing rivalry between the two, one claiming dominance over the other. The marketing people say they have an upper hand because they think it is they who designs the products, lays down the strategy and also develops tools essential for sales. They say sales are the outcome of marketing and thus should follow its directions. The sales people might not agree to this view and may be completely opposite in their opinion. They think that it is the sales people who actually sells a product and bring money to the business.

But many experts believe that marketing should play a pivotal role among the two. A successful marketing campaign makes sales easy and makes people believe that it is actually the sales people who are the dominant leaders. The most important role of marketing department is to create opportunities for the sales department. Marketing drives sales and sales drives companies’ success. Marketing is like a life support for sales, one who is constantly backing up the sales department and enabling them to successfully deliver the end product. There shouldn’t be a race to gain supremacy over another department but a race to win the market and customers working together.

Many businesses combine sales and marketing together but in reality they have different targets. While the sales department is interested in fulfilling the requirements of what the customer asked for, the marketing department is actually busy studying what the market demands. The goal of the marketing department is to foresee how the market will shape up in future. They should envision their product catering to the needs of the market for next few years and be ready to make design changes in their product accordingly.

It is very important that a company integrates their sales and marketing department in a well fashioned manner. It is the correct integration of these two important entities that fuels the growth of a company. The sale people should not be merely treated as the cash collectors. Each department has its own role and should go hand in hand in selling the product of the company and should be the foremost important criteria.