The development of a relationship marketing framework that captures the delivery of value in entrepreneurial SMEs
There are a number of environmental pressures facing SMEs and the high failure rates amongst young SMEs highlights the need for research to develop a framework that will permit SMEs to achieve growth with a minimal risk of failure. This research will show that both relationship marketing and entrepreneurship have significantly contributed to allowing entrepreneurial SMEs to pursue a low risk strategy of growth through pursuing a customer retention, development and targeted acquisition strategy. To understand the nature of entrepreneurial SMEs and the factors influencing growth. The author cites literature that argues entrepreneurship is not an 'absolute' and thus believes that less entrepreneurial firms have the potential to learn from their more successful counterparts. Whilst this does offer some specific management suggestions, the author also recognises that the task is not an easy one, for the SME has not only to create an internal culture that is capable of embracing relationship marketing but one that also enables it to act in an entrepreneurial fashion. Despite these challenges the author will capitalise on the research findings to develop a framework for successfully adopting relationship marketing and entrepreneurial behaviour, to assist SMEs to overcome the hurdle of high failure rate amongst SMEs. The research has focused on the business services industry, since this sector is experiencing the highest growth. In the main this sector covered printing, marketing services and computer services, and so would be offering clients both a pure service and a product / service mix. Additionally this sector because of its service nature would have a high contact with its customer base. A sampling frame was developed that resulted in identifying 102 SMEs in West Yorkshire (UK) that met the criteria for selection. An initial quantitative survey was administered that provided statistical evidence that entrepreneurial SMEs had a greater relationship marketing orientation. The results from the survey were further investigated through in-depth semi structured interviews to reveal a richer picture of the phenomenon.