For marketers simply finding customers who are willing to purchase their goods or services is not enough to build a successful marketing strategy. Instead, as we note in our definition of marketing in the What is Marketing? tutorial, marketers should look to manage customers in a way that will “identify, create and maintain satisfying relationships with customers.” By using marketing efforts that are designed to “maintain satisfying relationships” rather than simply pursuing a quick sale, the likelihood increases that customers will be more trusting of the marketer and exhibit a higher level of satisfaction with the organization. In turn satisfied customers are more likely to become “good” customers.
For our purposes we define a “good” customer as one who holds the potential to undertake activities that offer long-term value to an organization. The activities performed by customers not only include purchasing products, these also include such things as:
- offering feedback on company performance
- making prompt payment
- offering suggestions for new products
- voluntarily promoting the company’s products to others
These activities along with many others (including profit from product sales) represent the value (i.e., benefits for costs spent) an organization receives from its customers. In the case of “good” customers their potential for providing value should be a signal for marketers to direct additional marketing efforts in building, strengthening and sustaining a relationship with these customers.
The fact that we place the descriptive term “good” in front of customers should not be taken lightly. Not all customers who currently have relationships with an organization (i.e., Existing Customers) should be treated on an equal level. Some consistently spend large sums to purchase products from an organization; others do not spend large sums but hold the potential to do so; and still others use up a large amount of an organization’s resources but contribute little revenue. Clearly there are lines of demarcation between those in the Existing Customer category. As we will see later, identifying this line is critical for marketing success.