Relationship Marketing vs. Transactional Marketing

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Transactional and relationship marketing serve very different customer needs.
Transactional and relationship marketing serve very different customer needs. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Nearly every company uses aspects of both relationship marketing and transactional marketing in their daily functions; however, each company will focus on one more than the other. Transactional companies prefer to sell a high-quality, reliable, but high-priced piece of merchandise, while relationship companies prefer to sell multiple purchases of low-priced merchandise over a period of time.

Transactional Marketing

Transactional marketing is the process of luring customers to a store so they can purchase a single item. Transactional marketing focuses on expensive items and large purchases, such as a car, television or computer system. A transactional strategy uses incentives to direct customers to larger purchases. After the purchase, a company can use relationship marketing to address future needs related to the large purchase, such as service plans or component parts.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing attempts to build a relationship between a company and its customers by focusing on the long-term interests of customers. The goal is to lure customers back to the store regularly to purchase additional items. A relationship marketing strategy may include selling various engine parts, instead of selling the car itself, allowing customers to visit the store regularly to purchase parts.

Transactional Techniques

Transactional marketing uses short-term incentives to draw customers into the store for large purchases, such as sales and advertisements for product quality, as in the case of a store advertising a new car's quality aspects. The goal of a transactional marketer is to make a one-time, large sale of an item that will meet the needs of a customer. Relationship marketing incentives can also help draw customers in to make their large purchase in the store. Product performance is an important quality of transactional marketing -- selling customers on the idea of purchasing an item that will work well without needing regular maintenance.

Relationship Techniques

Relationship marketing uses long-term incentives, such as everyday low prices, a convenient return policy and a focus on respectful customer service, to convince customers to return to the store for all of their needs. Relationship marketers will focus on the shopping experience, making sure that a customer's visit is pleasant. Product quality is an important concern for relationship marketers -- selling customers on the overall value of a purchase due to its high quality and low price.

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