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Definition

Relationship marketing

Relationship marketing aims to build mutually satisfying long-term relationships with key constituents— four key constituents for relationship marketing are customers, employees, marketing partners (channels, suppliers, distributors, dealers, agencies), and members of the financial community (shareholders, investors, analysts) in order to earn and retain their business.  

Marketers must create prosperity among all these constituents and balance the returns to all key stakeholders. To develop strong relationships with them requires understanding their capabilities and resources, needs, goals, and desires.

The ultimate outcome of relationship marketing is a unique company asset called a marketing network, consisting of the company and its supporting stakeholders—customers, employees, suppliers, distributors, retailers, and others—with whom it has built mutually profitable business relationships. The operating principle is simple: build an effective network of relationships with key stakeholders, and profits will follow. Thus more companies are choosing to own brands rather than physical assets and are subcontracting activities to firms that can do them better and more cheaply, while retaining core activities at home.


Relationship marketing is the process of establishing, maintaining, enhancing, and commercializing customer relationships. It has a long-term customer orientation, involves ongoing interactive communication between a firm and selected stakeholders, and focuses on individual customers.

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