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Gashaw Abeza, David Finch, Norm O’Reilly, Eric MacIntosh and John Nadeau

Emerging from its interdisciplinary roots into a distinct field in the early 1980s ( Berry, 1983 ), relationship marketing (RM) evolved as an important conceptual lens for both marketing scholars and practitioners ( Agariya & Singh, 2011 ). Since Berry’s ( 1983 ) first and formal description of the

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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly and Ian Reid

Relationship marketing (RM) is about retaining customers through the achievement of long-term mutual satisfaction by businesses and their customers. Sport organizations, to retain customers by establishing, maintaining, and enhancing relationships, need to communicate and engage in dialogue with their customers. To achieve this on an ongoing basis, sport organizations need to employ effective communication platforms. In this regard, social media (SM) is becoming an ideal tool for a continuing 2-way dialogue. However, the effects of SM, primarily in terms of addressing RM goals, are not yet well understood. This study explores the opportunities and challenges facing managers in sport organizations in using SM in an RM strategy. Eight case studies were undertaken on organizations that put on running events. The article presents the findings on the use, opportunities, and challenges of SM and recommendations encouraging continued investigation.

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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, Benoit Seguin and Ornella Nzindukiyimana

This study, guided by the relationship marketing theoretical framework, adopted an observational netnography method to investigate professional sport teams’ use of Twitter as a relationship marketing tool. Specifically, the study focused on the three core components of the theoretical framework of relationship marketing: communication, interaction, and value. The observational netnography is based on data gathered from the official Twitter account of 20 professional sport teams in the four major North American leagues over a seven-month period. Results outline seven emergent communication types, six interaction practices, and ten values (co)created by the teams or/and fans. Theoretical and practical implications, as well as impetus for future research, are identified.

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Jo Williams and Susan J. Chinn

Sport industry marketers have long understood the importance of nurturing customer relationships. The new challenge is how best to face the shifts in customer relationship marketing posed by sports organizations and proactive consumers, or “prosumers.” In this article, the elements of the relationship-building process are presented with a focus on communication, interaction, and value, concepts identified in Gronroos’s (2004) relationship-marketing process model. An expanded version of Gronroos’s model is developed to include prosumers and to describe the interactions that occur through social-media exchanges. The value of specific social-media tools and Web 2.0 technologies in helping sport marketers meet their relationship-marketing goals is also discussed. Finally, directions for future research employing the expanded model are suggested.

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Vassil Girginov, Marijke Taks, Bob Boucher, Scott Martyn, Marge Holman and Jess Dixon

Sport-participation development requires a systematic process involving knowledge creation and dissemination and interactions between national sport organizations (NSOs), participants, clubs, and associations, as well as other agencies. Using a relationship-marketing approach (Grönroos, 1997, Gummesson, 2002, Olkkonen, 1999), this article addresses the question, How do Canadian NSOs use the Web, in terms of functionality and services offered, to create and maintain relationships with sport participants and their sport-delivery partners? Ten Canadian NSOs’ Web sites were examined. Functionality was analyzed using Burgess and Cooper’s (2000) eMICA model, and NSOs’ use of the Internet to establish and maintain relationships with sport participants was analyzed using Wang, Head, and Archer’s (2000) relationshipbuilding process model for the Web. It was found that Canadian NSOs were receptive to the use of the Web, but their information-gathering and -dissemination activities, which make up the relationship-building process, appear sparse and in some cases are lagging behind the voluntary sector in the country.

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Rebecca M. Achen, John Kaczorowski, Trisha Horsmann and Alanda Ketzler

build relationships with customers using social-media channels, because, according to Grönroos ( 2004 ), customer relationships are built through two-way communications, interactions, and added value. If sport marketers adopt relationship marketing, then they should center social-media strategy on what

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Mathieu Winand, Matthew Belot, Sebastian Merten and Dimitrios Kolyperas

the sport industry ( Abeza, O’Reilly, & Reid, 2013 ; Naraine & Parent, 2016a ; Parganas et al., 2015 ; Stavros et al., 2014 ; Williams & Chinn, 2010 ; Witkemper et al., 2012 ). In sports, relationship marketing (RM) has become a key strategy employed by organizations to retain key customers and

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Jonathan A. Jensen and T. Bettina Cornwell

factors that have been proven to be predictive of the end of such partnerships can be closely monitored and potentially influenced to help ensure the continuation of the relationship, benefitting both parties. Theoretical Framework Relationship marketing (RM) is a helpful lens with which to examine the

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Courtney Hodge, Joseph A. Pederson and Matthew Walker

Given the increasing popularity of social-networking sites, it is extremely important for brand managers involved with Internet-based communication platforms to evaluate whether their communication strategies are positively influencing user attitudes and behaviors toward their brands. This article aims to address this need by investigating how sports fans respond to various marketing communication styles via Facebook posts. Using a case-manipulation design, this study empirically examines the relation among communication styles and individual willingness to engage in 4 common Facebook behaviors (i.e., “comment,” “like,” “share,” and “RSVP”). The results indicate that a personal communication style enhanced individual willingness to “comment” on Facebook posts, while the colorful style enhanced individual willingness to “like” and “RSVP” to Facebook events.

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Norm O’Reilly, Denyse Lafrance Horning and Ghazal Bandeh-Bahman

This case study presents seven challenges regarding the implementation of a National Sport Organization (NSO) loyalty program. Drawing on relationship marketing and sponsorship, the case traces the evolution of the Club Hockey Canada loyalty program, managed by Hockey Canada, a large and successful NSO. The case describes the following seven challenges for managers: resource allocation, process management, branding, rules and regulations for a key element of the program (i.e., Puck Bucks), risk management, sponsorship, and cost recovery. Targeted to upper year undergraduate and graduate students in sport finance or sport marketing, the case is based on information provided by Hockey Canada and secondary research. In completing the case, students will be able to learn about the seven challenges in building a successful loyalty program.