Marketing Management: A Relationship Approach
The World Is Flat. This was the title of an international bestselling book by Thomas L. Friedman, published in first edition in 2005. It analyses globalisation, primarily in the early twenty-first century, and the picture has changed dramatically. The title is a metaphor for viewing the world as a level playing field in terms of commerce, where all players and competitors have an equal opportunity. We are entering a new phase of globalisation, in which there will be no single geographic centre, no ultimate model for success, no sure-fire strategy for innovation and growth. Companies from every part of the world will be competing with each other – for customers, resources, talent and intellectual capital – in every corner of the world’s markets.
Products and services will flow from many locations to many destinations. Friedman mentions that many companies in, for example, the Ukraine, India and China provide human-based sub-supplies for multinational companies, from typists and call centres to accountants and computer programmers. In this way these companies in emerging and developing countries are becoming integral parts of complex global supply chains for large multinational companies such as Dell, SAP, IBM and Microsoft.
As this new scene unfolds, the new global leaders increasingly will be forced to defend the ground they thought they had won and secured long ago. And their expansion into new markets will be challenged as never before. Their established processes and traditional business philosophies will be turned upside down by challengers whose experiences in new emerging markets cause them to see the world very differently and to do business in completely new ways. Many executives of developed-country companies are not prepared to deal with the massive wave of competition from skilled and determined new rivals.
As the world is becoming a flat playing field, there is also an increasing need in different industry supply chains for creating relationships between the involved companies in the industry value chains. This has important implications for the way that we look at the marketing discipline in the individual firm. The consequence is that the development of marketing theory and practice is undergoing a paradigm shift from a transactional to a relationship orientation. As many companies are still relying on the traditional marketing approach, this book will bridge the gap between relationship marketing (RM) and traditional (transactional) marketing (TM).
In the traditional transactional approach, marketing management is about planning, coordinating and controlling marketing activities that are aimed at satisfying customer needs and desires – and receiving money from sales. In recent years, marketing has been undergoing considerable self-examination and internal debate. The overriding emphasis in the ‘traditional’ marketing approach is on acquiring as many customers as possible. Evidence is mounting, however, that traditional marketing is becoming too expensive and is less effective.
Many leading marketing academics and practitioners have concluded that a number of the long-standing practices and operating modes in marketing need to be evaluated, and we need to move towards a relationship approach that is based on repeated market transactions and mutual gain for buyers and sellers.
The ‘new paradigm’ is commonly referred to as relationship marketing (RM). Relationship marketing is not a new idea. Before the advent of mass production and mass media, relationship marketing was the norm; sellers usually had first-hand knowledge of buyers, and the successful ones used this knowledge to help keep customers for life.
Relationship marketing reflects a strategy and process that integrates customers, suppliers and other partners into the company’s design, development, manufacturing and sales processes.
Fundamentally, relationship marketing draws from traditional marketing principles. Marketing can be defined as the process of identifying and satisfying customers’ needs in a competitively superior manner in order to achieve the organisation’s objectives. Relationship marketing builds on this.
The customer is still fundamental to a marketing relationship. Marketing exists to meet efficiently the satisfaction of customer needs, as well as those of the marketing organisation. There is a considerable body of knowledge in social sciences that sheds light on the many facets of human relationships. We draw from these sources to further our understanding of consumer relationships.
Marketing exchange seeks to achieve satisfaction for the consumer and the marketing organisation (or company). In this latter group we include employees, shareholders and managers. Other stakeholders (such as competitors, financial and governmental institutions) are also important. As we shall see later, relationships can cover a wide range of organisations in the environment, for example:
● governmental institutions
● industry associations
● European Union (EU) institutions
● religious groups.
However, the main focus of this book is still on the relationships between the firm and its closest external bodies, primarily the customers.
In the transactional approach, participants focus exclusively on the economic benefits of the exchange. Even though in relational exchange the focus widens, economic benefits remain important to all of the partners in marketing relationships.
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