I agree with Mitchell (2001, p.33) as cited in (Eghan, 2004), when he argued that “relationship marketing theory suggests that relationships add quality to marketing transactions”.
He continued to explore that “Traditional markets are extremely powerful but they have huge limitations. Real human exchange is much richer than market exchange. Whenever people deal with people in ‘relationships’ or communities (rather than markets) they not only exchange money for goods, they share ideas, opinions, information and insights. They have a say.
They also tend to form affections, bonds, ties of loyalty, and feelings of obligation and so on. They begin to share and exchange values as well as value. And the people whose values are most in tune with those around them tend to form the strongest, most supportive bonds with other people” (p.33)
Quora also defines traditional marketing as “any type of promotion, advertising or campaign that has been in use by companies for years, and that has a proven success rate. Methods of traditional marketing can include print advertisements, billboards, flyers or pamphlets, TV, newspaper, radio, etcetera.
Similar to the above assertions, I argue that any type of promotion, advertising or campaign practiced by a marketing or business organization for years becomes their traditional way of marketing. Corporate organizations especially the banking and financial institutions seem to have understood the concept of relationship marketing to the latter, hence the practice in their daily business operations.
The principle of relationship marketing which is discovered by marketing scholars in their study as a more enduring and reliable way of acquiring and retaining customers is indeed profitable to these financial institutions hence the very rea son they have adopted the practice in their banking operations over the years.
From critical observation, I can firmly argue that, the type of selling practiced by Small & Medium Enterprises (SME’s) demonstrates confidence in their ‘so called’ traditional way of marketing. It is a selling approach where customer identification particulars are not taken for future reference or contact.
Their belief is that once customers are served as and when they walk-in and are gone, it officially marks the end of that relationship. So sore isn’t it? I presume the reason why SME’s could be embracing this kind of marketing is because they do not see the usefulness of taking customer particulars nor known the rippling benefits of building quality relationships with customers.
Throwing more light on the characteristics of relationship marketing (Mitchell, 2001) further expressed that ‘real human exchange is much richer than market exchange’. It is an agreeable statement because selling on relationship basis makes the service provider gets to know what is on the heart of the customer.
The client also gets to know the standards of the service organization. By this, the service provider is better able to understand the needs of the customer and offers the right solution. On the other hand, just selling the product or service to the customer and ending sales right there does not provide long-lasting benefits to the two parties.
Relationship marketing according to the literature source goes beyond just parting away with money and goods. The scholarly opinion made it clear. It is discovered that there is an unusual rapport that grows between the like-minded and people with common goals such as a service provider and a customer. Why because one needs a product or service and the other provides the solution and so they have one thing in common. On this premise, it opens up conversation between the two to be able to share relevant ideas, opinions about the service and useful information that is profitable to both. They are able to develop immediate conversation because of needs and provision. As the relationship grows, they get more into each other, expound more on ideas and opinions and intimacy beyond service and delivery is highly fostered.
Comparatively, in love relationships, the longer lovers stay together, the stronger they develop affection for each other and so it is with relationship marketing. The more the service provider maintains communication with the newly acquired customer, the more the customer gets used to, develops interest in the conversation, maintains faith and is daily encouraged to continue to do business with the service provider. The understanding of each other in business permanently locks the two together and that develops faith and trust amongst the two. Relationship managers who understand the concept of ownership feel obliged to serve their customers and because of that, customers also feel committed to the relationship.
To solidify the relationship, the service provider delivers his or her best service skills and qualities by introducing and offering best service solutions that will provide value to the client. The client in turn must reciprocate the gesture by complying with the rules of the service contract and maximizing the use of the service to provide a business advantage.
The synopsis of relationship marketing implies that it has a long-lasting effect where it promises a high probability of acquiring clients and being able to maintain them over a considerable period which of course ensures cash profitability and referral sales. A business that builds friendship with its customers is very capable of making more sales than others who only transact business once but lacks a system that retains these hard-earned clients. In fact, customers who have benefited from bond relationships can go to the extent of buying a product or service just to maintain that friendship even when they do not really need the product or service.
Relationship marketing therefore exercises a clear edge over traditional marketing weighing the two philosophies on a scale of preference. In view of the fact that customer relationships management is still being practiced by the banks today gives a firm assurance that, the concept is good and is profitable to their businesses. SME’s can be advised therefore to emulate the growth strategies of these banks (of which CRM is part) if they really want to increase, multiply their sales and set targets to compete with these banks in terms of numbers in the near future.
The writer is a marketing specialist with a degree in international marketing
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