Against the background of the current economic situation within the region, many marketers are looking for better and more effective ways of increasing their sales. Some of them assume that when there is greater media visibility, then one is more likely to boost their success. However, what most of these marketers are forgetting is that there are relationships that are created every time a sale is made. Consequently, their companies must look for ways in which they can sustain this kind of relationship. The proposal will examine how relationship marketing can boost company images in the car industry with specific emphasis on the issue of trust.
This project is worth doing because of a series of reasons. First of all, the automobile company is one of the most important sectors of the UKs economy. Consequently, there is a need to look for ways in which this industry can be improved in order to boost the economy. Additionally, by examining the role that trust plays in relationship marketing, then car companies can understand the underlying factors required to make relationship marketing work for them. This project will also be significant in providing information about various tools and approaches in relationship marketing from automobile companies. (Jackson, 1985)
Previous work in relationship marketing has focused on its core functions. Levitt (1983) explains that relationship marketing is a form of marketing that centres on consumer satisfaction and retention. This is a shift from traditional approaches that mostly emphasised on transactions made at the point of sale. Some authors have looked at application of relationships to the automotive industry. Nilsson (2004) examined a case study of an automobile company in the US and looked at how this companys success had been enhanced though relationship marketing. Other authors such as Kotler (2005) , DeYoung and Boldt (1988) & Berry (1983)
have examined ways in which relationship marketing can be integrated with other marketing concepts such as process reengineering. Furthermore, a lot of work has centred upon the use of relationship marketing in various aspects of an organisation. These include its application in the supply chain logistics, information technology and other vital sectors. (DeYoung, 1987)
RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND OBJECTIVES
The major objective that the research will be trying to achieve is to determine what the link between company image and relationship marketing is in the automobile industry. This will be determined through four specific objectives
1)What role does trust play in boosting relationship marketing in the automobile industry
2)What role does loyalty play in enhancing relationship marketing?
3)How can automobile companies apply relationship marketing in their marketing mix?
4)What is the value that relationship marketing brings to automobile companies?
Through these research objectives, it will be possible to understand what makes automobile companies successful in terms of relationship marketing and that can then be linked to company image. When companies are regarded as successful by their current or future clientele, then it is likely that they have a good image or vice versa. (Jackson, 1985)
METHOD; RESEARCH DESIGN
The research will dwell on the automobile industry in the United Kingdom. This will be done through a combination of approaches. Some leading automobile manufacturers like General Motors will be identified and asked about their implementation of relationship marketing. This will be analysed through personal interviews with their sales members. Additionally, the customer lifetime value added to a company through relationship marketing will be calculated for those chosen organisations. Customers will also be included in the research because they will be instrumental in assessment of how successful they perceive certain companies hence reflecting on the company image. (Envision software, 2007)
Personal interviews will be utilised when dealing with company representatives owing to the fact that they will be useful in highlighting certain unique r. marketing features prevalent in their organisations. However, in order to get uniform responses from clients, it would be favourable to use questionnaires for them. Secondary data will also form an important part of this research because it will provide a backbone for determining those elements that cannot be conducted practically and this include measurement of the value added to companies as a result of relationship marketing.
Data will be obtained through sales performance records released to the public by industry analysts. Data will also be obtained through the use of personal interviews. The population size in this part of the research will be made up of all top performing automobile companies in the UK. Ten sales representatives will be chosen from these companies. The sampling criteria will solely be based on that companys willingness and response to requests for interviews.
In the other aspect of the interview involving the public or various clienteles, the research will need to obtain fair representation from various parts of the UK. Consequently, a telephone directory will be used and respondents will be asked whether they would like to participate in the research. The questionnaires will be delivered personally to their residential areas after they accept to participate. Sampling criteria will be based on non probability sampling. Numbers will be chosen randomly in order to minimise biases. The research will involve ten personal interviews for sale representatives in automobile companies. Additionally, fifty questionnaires will be filled by those who accept to participate. (Durfee & Chase, 2003)
The research will also make a number of ethical considerations. Confidentiality will be a key concern as respondents in the questionnaire and the interview will be protected from other parties by concealing their identities. Additionally, care will be taken to ensure that clients only answer those questions that they feel comfortable with since they will be informed about this at the beginning of the research.
Secondary data will largely be obtained from financial data released to the public. This will available in the school library and also in internet websites. This information will be crucial for ensuring that the issue of company image is duly inspected.
Kotler, P. (2005): Relationship marketing- gaining competitive advantage through customer satisfaction and customer retention; North Western University Press
Nilsson, T. (2004): Customer relationship management within the US Automotive Industry; department of BA and Social Sciences, Lulea University Report, 18th June
Envision software (2007); Project Timeline management, available at http://www.envisionsoftware.com/ accessed on 11th November 2008
Durfee, W. & Chase, T. (2003): Project management, University of Minnesota Press
DeYoung, B. (1987): Marketing Your Charter Boat Enterprise – Putting Relationships to Work; Information Bulletin, no. 206
Berry, L. (1983): Relationship Marketing in Perspectives on Services Marketing; American Marketing Association
DeYoung, B. and Boldt, W. (1988): Relationship Marketing – Putting Relationships to Work, in Cornell Cooperative Extension Marketing Manual
Jackson, B. (1985): Build Customer Relationships That Last; Harvard Business Review, 120-28
Levitt, T. (1983): After the Sale, in The Marketing Imagination; Free Press