Relationship Marketing: An Important Tool For Success In The Marketplace

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Hudson Nwakanma
Annette Singleton Jackson
Janee N. Burkhalter

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Abstract

This paper looks at relationship marketing as an important tool for success in marketing.  With product quality becoming a common standard in many industries, and no longer a major source of competitive advantage, many firms are scrambling to escape the mire of the ‘commodity mentality’ that has become part of most basic products in the market place today.   Several of these firms are turning to relationship (RM) marketing as a means of differentiating themselves.  This shift to RM is being fueled by fundamental cultural shifts, powerful databases, and a new focus on organizational structure; and is occurring more rapidly in some sectors and industries than others.  Through the relationships they build, marketers turn data into knowledge by using the information, insight, and understanding gained over time and applying this information to mutual benefits with their customers.  Many are realizing some of the advantages of relationship marketing which could be gained by both the marketer and the buyer.  For the marketer, profitability, brand loyalty, product differentiation, and gaining competitive advantage are some major benefits of relationship building.  For the buyer, the major benefits include: personalized attention from marketers, marketer’s efforts to anticipate buyers’ wants, and meaningful dialogues with the marketer. Trust, commitment, empathy, and responsiveness to customers needs are necessary ingredients for successful implementation of RM.  Database technology, print-on-demand technology, and internal marketing are some of the tools available to marketers interested in taking advantage of an effective RM program.  The jury is still out on how firms can successfully implement the RM program.  Some firms have however, made successful attempts in implementing RM.

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