Synthesis and relationship marketing

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The assumption made by the traditional marketing approach is that there is a point in time when a transaction occurs. This type of marketing is sometimes referred to as transaction marketing [4]. In the service sector there is also a point in time when, for example, a commission is made, but the relationship with the client can span several years. A marketing strategy geared solely to a single point in time would therefore be totally inadequate and inappropriate. It is not unusual for an architect to meet a potential client at say an exhibition or conference and two years later for a contract for a commission to be signed. The design and construction of the building could then take another year and a second commission for another building might result several years later. How do you formulate a simple, systematic and sustainable marketing strategy to cover such a long period?

From the mid-1980s, there has been a move away from traditional, transaction marketing approach towards a longer-term, enduring relationship with the client and the sectoral infrastructure. This has been called relationship marketing. The primary concern of relationship marketing is the linkage of quality, customer service and marketing (see Fig. 4.3). 'Traditional marketing has been about getting customers. Relationship marketing addresses the twin concerns—getting and keeping customers' (Christopher et al. [29]).

Martin et al. [29] emphasize three issues:

■ 'Relationship marketing strategies are concerned with a broader scope of external market relationships which include suppliers, business referral and 'influence sources'.' In this book Regis McKenna's term 'sectoral infrastructure' has been used to describe these external relationships.

■ 'Relationship marketing also focuses on the internal (staff) relationships critical to the success of (external) marketing plans. Internal marketing' aims to achieve continuous improvement in marketing performance.'

■ 'Improving marketing performance ultimately requires a resolution (or realignment) of the competing interests of customer, staff, and shareholders, by changing the way managers manage the activities of the business.'

Relationship marketing therefore represents:

Relationship Marketing Orientation
Fig. 4.3 The relationship marketing orientation: bringing together customer service, quality and marketing. Source: Martin et al. [29].

■ a move away from a single point in time to a more enduring relationship with the client and the sectoral infrastructure;

■ a recognition that internal marketing and management must relate to the external marketing plans

From the point of view of architects and engineers, relationship marketing has been a necessary big step away from traditional marketing and many of the points that are raised are helpful and valid. However, there is a considerable assumption that customer service and quality are the two deciding synthesis factors in any relationship with the market. For design professionals this is unlikely to be the case in many markets and other synthesis factors will be more important. Relationship marketing needs to take the next big step towards synthesis marketing with its wider definition of marketing valence.

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