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Four Steps to Driving Value via Customer Engagement and Advocacy (Or: Putting the Relationship Back in Relationship Marketing)

by Andy Hasselwander, Laird Rawsthorne, Ph.D.  |  
February 19, 2008

Over the past 15 years, business-to-business marketers have focused on the pipeline—leads converting to opportunities converting to wins. The reason was simple: Pipelines are a measurable construct that brought discipline and financial credibility to what had been a "fuzzy" and much-maligned corporate function.

However, when one looks past the standard milieu of CRM system installations, pipeline dashboards, and lead-scoring models, the idea of marketing to enhance relationships among networks of decision makers, influencers, and users has remained alive and well, particularly at companies pitching complex products or solutions to large enterprises.

Relationship marketing (RM) emphasizes customer retention and satisfaction over short-term transactions, with the goal of developing and maintaining a base of committed customers that generates profit for the organization.

Unfortunately, while RM organizations are common in B2B marketing organizations, marketers have been slow to implement the same rigorous, data-driven approach to RM as they have with "pipeline marketing." Some organizations thus have trouble understanding and optimizing their ongoing interaction with customers, leading to more guesswork than understanding when it comes to building an enterprise RM strategy.

With this in mind, and based on years of working with RM organizations in many of the world's largest B2B companies, we've identified four key steps that marketers can take to improve both the analytic rigor and ultimate effectiveness of their RM efforts.

But, before we go through these steps, it's important to lay some important theoretical groundwork.

Line-of-Business Influencers Are Key

While functional managers—IT Directors, Office Managers, Controllers, and the like—often sign purchase orders, it is the line-of-business influencers who are most effective in driving demand in large accounts.

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Andy is VP of the Marketing Sciences practice at integrated sales and marketing managed services and consulting firm MarketBridge ( is a principal in the Marketing Sciences practice.

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  • by Prof R K Gupta Tue Feb 19, 2008 via web

    The article has little ambiguity and is complex in language.

  • by Sue Foley Tue Feb 19, 2008 via web

    I'd like to see the section on measurement, tracking and analysis tools expanded. What tools do you recommend to measure advocacy?

  • by Scott VC Thu Feb 21, 2008 via web

    A more comprehensive version of this paper is available on the MarketBridge site,, in the Media Center under White Papers. It may help you with measurement, tracking and analysis questions.

  • by Sue F Thu Feb 21, 2008 via web

    I went to the site and selected "Putting the Relationship Back into Relationship Marketing" on, but the link took me to a "Financial Services Roundtable Summary" white paper

  • by Scott VC Thu Feb 21, 2008 via web

    Here's the right link with apologies....

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