Marketing: Building the Customer Relationship

Marketing is a process, in which a company researches customer needs, decides on products and prices which will meet those needs, and finally advertises and sells those products to the customers. (Glossary of Business Terms, 2001) A major goal of marketing is to form relationships which are profitable to both the customer and the company providing the products. In order to do this, companies must have a thorough knowledge of their customers’ habits, their wants, and their needs. Once these statistics have been gathered, strategic planning takes place. It is during this stage that companies decide which of their existing products will meet customer needs and what new products, if any, need to be designed. Advertising is also discussed and marketing campaigns are born. (Armstrong et al, 2005)

Marketers must constantly come up with new concepts in order to keep up with changing attitudes and needs; however, some standard practices continue to be successful. For example, companies who realize that many of their sales come from repeat customers have found a key to long-term profits. Companies such as Lexus have tapped into this marketing practice, estimating that a single customer can spend as much as $600,000 with the company over their lifetime. (Armstrong et al, 2005) Keeping customers coming back involves heavy research and strict customer service standards. Many retail stores, such as Target and CVS, now print extra opportunities for savings at the bottom of their receipts. Customer surveys or information gathering memberships, such as discount cards, are usually a part of the savings process. While the customer has saved a few dollars, the company has gained valuable information about buying habits, which can be used in direct mail campaigns and other targeted marketing to keep customers coming back.

When creating a loyal customer base, even the most successful research into customers’ habits can fail if customer service is not made a priority. According to Jill Griffin, it’s the little things that count with customers. “Delivering a great customer experience is achieved by doing a lot of little thing really well âÂ?¦ many small improvements help create compelling and consistent value that ‘sells’ the customer.” (Griffin, 2004) So many times a disgruntled customer can walk away happy in the end if their complaints are directly addressed and reasonable accommodations are made. Catering to one customer’s issues may not seem like much, but companies who concentrate on customer service know that one person can bring in more customers and that the opposite holds true as well. A single disgruntled customer can spread their opinions among family, friends, and co-workers causing potentially huge losses for a company.

One company has focused so much on the little things, that they have turned customer loyalty into record sales. Their latest ad campaign focuses on the things that have made them so popular and doesn’t even mention a single product. For Walgreen’s, it’s “perfect.” Introduced in 2003, Walgreen’s television commercials state “Of course, we don’t live anywhere near Perfect. So there’s Walgreen’s. That’s life. This is Walgreen’s.” (Alexander, 2005) The commercials depict a small town where nothing ever goes wrong and everything is convenient. Flash back to real life and Walgreen’s points out how they can make consumers’ lives a little more perfect by providing things like drive-through pharmacies. (Chapman, 2004) By focusing on the things that have made Walgreen’s successful rather than advertising sales and products, the company is bringing in new customers and retaining their old ones.
As customer needs have evolved, marketing has focused less on profits and more on relationships. New technology, fierce competition, and convenience factors have pushed companies to find ways to satisfy customer demands and keep them coming back for more. Truly successful companies, like Walgreen’s and Lexus, have found that focusing on the customer, rather than on the money, is what really brings high profits. They have created “true friends” (Armstrong et al, 2005) and have followed a perfect marketing model. One in which everyone involved profits.

References:

Alexander, A. (2005). Customer loyalty is in this contender’s corner. Retrieved Jan. 07, 2006, from Looksmart’s Find Articles Web site: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3374/is_4_27/ai_n13479893.

Armstrong, G., & Kotler, P. (2005). Marketing | an introduction. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Chapman, E. (2004). Recent work. Retrieved Jan. 07, 2006, from Ed Chapman Web site: http://www.edchapman.com/htmldocs/work.html#wal_school_hd.

Glossary of business terms. (2001). Retrieved Jan. 07, 2006, from NSW Small Business Resources Web site: http://www.smallbiz.nsw.gov.au/smallbusiness/Templates/Standard/TemplateForAll.aspx?NRMODE=Published&NRORIGINALURL=%2fsmallbusiness%2fResources%2fBusiness%2bTools%2fGlossary%2bof%2bBusiness%2bTerms%2f&NRNODEGUID=%7b5D9E5EA9-16C0-4D2E-99C4-9E9B2E902944%7d&NRCACHEHINT=NoModifyGuest#M.

Griffin, J. (2004). The twelve laws of loyalty. Retrieved Jan. 07, 2006, from American Marketing Association Web site: http://www.marketingpower.com/content21195C299S0.php.

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