Last week I had an interesting discussion about whether or not the term “audience development” was simply a new term for something old, “relationship marketing.”
Wikipedia defines relationship marketing as:
Relationship marketing is a form of marketing developed from direct response marketing campaigns conducted in the 1970s and 1980s which emphasizes customer retention and satisfaction, rather than a dominant focus on point-of-sale transactions.
Relationship marketing differs from other forms of marketing in that it recognizes the long term value to the firm of keeping customers, as opposed to direct or “Intrusion” marketing, which focuses upon acquisition of new clients by targeting majority demographics based upon prospective client lists.
The practice of relationship marketing has been facilitated by several generations of customer relationship management software that allow tracking and analyzing of each customer’s preferences, activities, tastes, likes, dislikes, and complaints. For example, an automobile manufacturer maintaining a database of when and how repeat customers buy their products, the options they choose, the way they finance the purchase etc., is in a powerful position to develop one-to-one marketing offers and product benefits.
It is organized around processes that involve all aspects of the organization. In fact, some commentators prefer to call relationship marketing “relationship management” in recognition of the fact that it involves much more than that which is normally included in marketing.
Martin Christopher, Adrian Payne, and David Ballantyne | at the Cranfield School of Management claim that relationship marketing has the potential to forge a new synthesis between quality management, customer service management, and marketing. They see marketing and customer service as inseparable.
Relationship marketing involves the application of the marketing philosophy to all parts of the organization. Every employee is said to be a “part-time marketer”. The way Regis McKenna (1991) puts it:
- “Marketing is not a function, it is a way of doing business . . . marketing has to be all pervasive, part of everyone’s job description, from the receptionist to the board of directors.”
I have to admit that from the above definition, audience development certainly uses relationship marketing, however, and a big however at that, audience development is, in my opinion, so much more. Audience development has a specific task attached to it – developing an audience. Yes, it uses the building of relationships to do this, but the specific task of moving the audience member from a one-time interest to a happy and loyal and involved patron is what sets audience development apart from the generic relationship marketing.
The fact that the definition of relationship marketing goes on to suggest that the main benefit is “to develop one-to-one marketing offers and product benefits,” separates audience development from relationship marketing even more. Audience development is not used simply to be able to market one-on-one, but to actually get to know the patrons in order to build a sense of partnership, to get the patron involved (not just a customer of). Also, audience development is not just about relating to the patron one-on-one, but serves to establish relationships between patron and patron. Audience development builds a sense of community among all the patrons, something that relationship marketing does not do.
Lastly, relationship marketing seems to be a means to obtain a customer and to keep a customer, while with audience development this goal is still the after thought, what naturally happens. The goal of true audience development is the relationship. Treating the customer as a friend is relationship marketing. Making friends for life is audience development.
All in all, audience development uses the “relationship” part of relationship marketing, but doesn’t necessarily use the “marketing” part. To me, audience development is a unique entity all its own and something well worth pursuing.
Until next time, may your audiences be happy and loyal ones, and if they are not, feel free to contact me!
Shoshana Fanizza is the founder of Audience Development Specialists. Her mission is to introduce artists and arts organizations to their existing and potential audiences and to help them to form more rewarding relationships.
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