Regis McKenna is one of the most respected names in contemporary marketing, in large part because he is not afraid to reveal flaws and shortcomings in conventional wisdom, and offer intelligent options. For thirty years McKenna has refined his ideas; his earlier book, THE REGIS TOUCH, showed how to create markets, while his latest volume, RELATIONSHIP MARKETING, explains how those markets can be developed and expanded.
The key, as McKenna clearly and convincingly explains, is the use of contemporary technology linked with modern consumer psychology. Because people want more than mere products, and many, if not most, no longer consider themselves simply consumers, it is no longer sufficient to push products upon a customer, or merely grab for market shares. Such old-fashioned ideas, and the outdated strategies which implement them, no longer apply.
In their place McKenna advocates “relationship marketing,” which, as its name implies, establishes and develops an integrated system that includes not only the company and the ultimate consumer, but suppliers, distributors, and even competitors, all of them providing vital information about what is wanted, and how the company can uniquely fill that need. The successful marketing plan is a plan for dialogue, not monologue.
McKenna forcefully argues that the companies which recognize this and use it will benefit. The increasing sophistication of technology, especially computers and global communications, and the expansion of demographic data bases are making it possible to customize products that once would be fashioned only in limited variety by mass production. And the modern service industry is, essentially, customization to the highest degree.
RELATIONSHIP MARKETING maintains that people no longer accept the passive role of customer but rather demand to be part of the entire business process. It’s the sort of idea that provokes new thought and encourages alternative methods, and that just might be the greatest benefit of this short but valuable book.