The three Rs of Marketing
To avoid getting entangled in the downward spiral of tactical competition,
marketing managers – who are responsible for the marketing activities in their
organisation – concentrate on more than just ‘transaction-oriented’ marketing
instruments (the four Ps). When plotting the strategy, experienced marketers
also focus on the company’s reputation (or brand image), on the relationship with
customers and on the desired response in the exchange process. Let’s further explore
these three Rs.
An organisation develops a certain reputation – the image that buyers have of the
organisation and its products or brands – through what it does in comparison with
competitors. To make a positive impression on the consumer, a company has to do
more than simply sell quality products. It also has to offer buyers excellent service in
the long run. Once customers are not only satisfi ed, but also enthusiastic, will they
most likely favour the organisation. That is how a company creates a great reputation.
Just as a doctor is valued by a patient when he gives him a prescription and then calls
two days later to see how the patient is doing, the company has to do everything it
can – through sponsorships, publicity, campaigns or personal contact – to reassure
the customer that his confi dence in the company is well placed. Appreciation is the
basis of a good reputation and creates the climate for a good relationship between
the two parties.
If most brands of a particular product are equally good, the key question for the
buyer is not so much, ‘Which brand do I buy?’ but, ‘Where should I buy it?’ So
marketers have to ‘come out from behind their stand’ to show the customer who
they really are. What kind of company and what kinds of people are behind the
product? Ongoing interaction with the customer, which eventually creates a certain
loyalty, is indispensable when developing a relationship. An interactive website,
direct mail with a freepost address and a customer service line are all effective
instruments in creating a customer loyalty system.
To create a bond with their customers, fi rms try to expand and deepen their
communication with the customer. This increases loyalty. If you are able, for
instance, to discuss many different topics with your hair dresser, it is far more
diffi cult to break off your relationship with him.
Today’s consumers are looking for variety; they always want ‘more and better’. As
a variety seeker, the consumer might drink Heineken on Monday, the inexpensive
store brand from his favourite supermarket on Wednesday, and Grolsch bock beer
on Friday. The next week he might drink something completely different. This
response to the profusion of products on the market makes it more diffi cult for
companies to bring about a process of exchange with a set group of customers.
However, if a company has created a relationship with the customer based on its
reputation, it is likely that the consumer will usually opt for his favourite brand. He
won’t just always choose the same brand.
Ultimately the company tries to get consumers to respond to a marketing offer.
A feasible objective for the company is to become the market leader for a certain
moment of use. For example, a supermarket may try to do this by offering a variety of
gourmet rolls and bread on weekends and regular sandwich bread during the rest of
30 part 1 Insight into marketing © Noordhoff Uitgevers
the week. And Nespresso marketers know from their marketing research that many
people like to drink one kind of coffee during the day, while at work, and a different
kind in the evening. Consumers like variety and they simply choose what suits them
best at a particular moment.
In conclusion, marketers who succeed in developing a great reputation and a good
relationship with their customers, and do all they can to create a positive response
in the exchange process (for example by customising the offer for each customer),
increase their chances of long-term success. Their company then enters an upward
spiral of being valued by the customer as a supplier (reputation), confi rmation that
the customer was right to appreciate the company (relationship) and enhancing the
relationship through additional contacts leading to a positive response.
Of course, the creation and exchange of value must be consistent with what
the customer expects from the supplier. A butcher might give his customers a
small bottle of liqueur as a gift, but this will do little to strengthen his reputation
as an excellent butcher. A better idea would be to give customers a piece of superb
sausage. Whatever the situation may be, through strategic use of the three Rs, a
company can stand out from its less marketing-oriented competitors.
The three Rs of Marketing