Managing relationships one concept at a time

Vector image of two human figures with hands i...

Relationships (Image via Wikipedia)

I’m interested in Relationship Marketing (RM) and I’ve read quite a bit about it. I found many of the theories rather conflicting with my status quo, depending on what areas of life and business I tried to apply it. RM is essentially about getting closer to your customers, designing ways to have 2-way communication with them and ensuring a win-win association. What is intriguing is the attitude postulated for existing customers and new customers. It’s common to walk in to a bank and find that great rate is only available to new customers or that awesome phone contract deal is only for newbies. It can be frustrating for “old” customers not getting any love (my experience still gives me nightmares). RM is very much about existing customers, engaging and retaining them. Most businesses are preoccupied with acquiring new customers and I agree with the concept that it’s not always the best to ignore existing customers. Apparently, it costs more to acquire new customers than it does to keep the folks you have. I apply my thinking to (1) Business (2) Friends (3) Church.

Business. It’s not rocket science that existing customers need to be kept satisfied. But new customers are important if you want to grow market share. Nonetheless, when it comes to RM, some customers will continue to be transactional and so will not want a close relationship with their supplier. In business, RM will be about identifying the customers that want a relationship and keeping them close. Overall, the RM concept will work very well for most kinds of businesses.

Friends. Interestingly, this concept works when I tried to apply it to friendships. It would mean focusing more on nurturing already founded friendships. Older posts on new year resolutions and the friendship grid is in line with this thinking. It’s great to make new friends (although finding trust and commitment can be hard work) and sometimes this is done at the expense of old friends who know you well and love you. So in this case, I vote for Relationship Marketing concepts!

Church. And not-for-profits in general. It all falls down when I apply it to Church for instance. Existing members of the community are important and part of the body but a Church’s main mandate is to win new people, to go out there and touch others. In other charities, it’s about rising funds and making a difference on a grand scale. Therefore, we don’t want to spend endless amounts of time chatting amongst ourselves. We need to go out and “acquire” new customers.

All very interesting (or not). Thanks for reading about what I’m reading! Ciao.

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Comments

  1. Apparently, it costs more to acquire new customers than it does to keep the folks you have.
    +
    you have me …

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  2. Winning new business and making new friends is the fun part. It all falls away if you neglect to keep the homes fires burning, as it were (mixing metaphors !), and if all a business has is new (or friends are all new) then all that’s left are castles built on sand (mixing them real well).

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  3. I think it’s just as true for churches. Dissatisfied people can switch churches and religions. I think you have a better chance at evangelizing and bringing back new people if you have something to offer them. And for many people, that begins with a solid, existing community. Otherwise, you can end up with a revolving door of new people in and quickly out when they don’t find a place to call home. Just my two cents. 🙂

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    • You know, I agree big time. Many churches struggle with this and want to focus on preaching the gospel while its members feel ignored and isolated. Very hard to get this right because leaning too far to existing “customers” could result in a self-absorbed community. Tough one…and worth way more than 2 cents :). K

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  4. Nirmala says:

    We learn these stuff for CIMA! Cool post! 🙂

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  5. Oh boy, you’re gonna wish you didn’t tell me that! Now I have a go-to gal for all my MBA professor’s tough questions. Stay tuned :). K

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  6. I’m so glad that I don’t have to learn those marketing stuff :S

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