Thursday, March 08, 2007

Relationship Marketing?

My apologies for the lack of posts in recent weeks. I was unfortunately struck down with the dreaded lurgy last week and as a result have been a busy bee since I’ve been back. But back I am. So, what’s been on my mind this week? Something I found in an old textbook from University while searching through for some nice quotes on marketing:

“[T]he computer and modern data processing provide the refinement – the means to treat individuals as individuals rather than parts of a large aggregate… [T]he treatment of individuals as individuals will not be an unmixed blessing. Problems concerning the protection of privacy will be large” (Shubick, 1967)

As the book points out, and I will now do the same, the date above is not a misprint; it was in 1967 that this prediction was made. And since that time, ‘relationship marketing’ has increasingly become data driven. Being able to track individual customers and their buying behaviour, calculating lifetime value and producing personalised marketing communications is now very much a reality for companies, allowing for much more targeted and as a result, effective marketing.

So, everything is great for those conducting this “relationship” marketing, but what about the customer? Later on the same page another quote caught my attention, which I feel sums up where a many of the problems of privacy stem from – the lack of permission in this type of marketing:

“[Relationship marketing… requires a two-way flow of information. This does not mean that the customer has to give you this information willingly, or even knowingly. You can use scanners to capture information, you can gather telephone numbers, conduct surveys, supply warranty cards, and use data overlay from outside databases to combine factors, about lifestyle, demographics, geographics and customer purchases.” (Schultz, Tannenaum and Lauterborn, 1993)

And 14 years on not much has changed.

I’m of course not telling you anything new here. And, I’m clearly focussing on the negative, projecting an image of relationship marketing as a fallacy. This is obviously not the case… well at least not all the time.

I’m not suggesting either that every time you want to use technology to inform and drive your marketing you attain the permission of everyone you are going to target with your message. With the very nature of a great deal of marketing, it would be near impossible to gain permission from everyone you are marketing to. However, if you truly want to conduct proper relationship marketing that is exactly what you should be doing - gaining permission from those you want to market to and building a relationship with them.

Because relationships do need two people actively participating to work. Not a revelation I know, but all the same, I think it's worth pointing out.



At 12:42 AM, Blogger Stan Lee said...

Your closing para says it all Lisa.

I've done a lot of DM work over the years and I'm mystified as to how relationship marketing mutated into a software package known as CRM.

Hate to plug my own thoughts on your blog, but here's another issue in this area that bugs me:



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