After a recent discussion with a few colleagues at the APCM – the Association of Quebec marketing communication professionals affiliated with the AMA, I was shocked to discover how misunderstood the concept of relationship marketing really is here in our market space. I suspect that this might be the case elsewhere in the world as well. Apparently, many marketers here confuse relationship marketing with email marketing and more specifically with the use of newsletters to communicate with customers. In France, relationship marketing is synonymous with multi-level marketing or network marketing.
So here’s my attempt at clearing up some of the confusion (and hopefully not contributing to it). In my view — based on 33 years of experience — relationship marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on creating, maintaining and growing business relationships between an organization and its customers. Relationship marketers focus on the quality, longevity, depth and value of the relationship with customers on an individual or personal level. This form of marketing is an offshoot of Customer Relationship Management, commonly referred to as CRM. I use the term to designate the CRM marketing vision and practices, as opposed to the management software platforms that make CRM possible.