ICLP - the global loyalty marketing agency - is an expert practitioner of relationship marketing.
Relationship Marketing is a marketing strategy whose objective is to establish and maintain a profitable, long-term relationship with a customer, which goes beyond the initial contact.
Relationship marketing is a form of marketing that evolved from direct response marketing, it places emphasis on building longer-term relationships with customers rather than on individual transactions. Relationship marketing involves an understanding of customers' needs and wants through their lifecycle and providing a range of products or services accordingly.
The term relationship marketing was popularised in the 1980s when the focus of marketers started to switch from customer acquisition to customer retention. The concept was strongly influenced by reengineering theory, which was gaining currency at the same time: organisations undergoing reengineering became structured according to complete tasks and processes rather than functions, i.e. cross-functional teams should be responsible for a whole process, from beginning to end, rather than having the work go from one separate functional department to another. Traditional marketing is said to use the functional department approach, which is now deemed too limited to provide a usable framework for assessing and developing customer relationships. In today's sophisticated consumer environment, an alternative model where the focus is on customers and relationships rather than markets and products is now required.
Relationship marketing is cross-functional and is organised around processes that involve all aspects of an organisation. Many commentators prefer to call it "Relationship Management" in recognition of the fact that it involves much more than that which is normally included in marketing and the practice of relationship marketing has been greatly facilitated by several generations of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.