Relationship marketing in the not-for-profit sector : the key to a strategic marketing focus? : the case of the subsidised arts
There is evidence to suggest that not-for-profit organisations generally, and subsidised arts organisations particularly, tend to use marketing for short-term, tactical purposes. This research study considers whether successful subsidised arts organisations are more likely to apply a relationship rather than transactional marketing approach to overcome this short-term focus. Relationship marketing involves the development of continuous relationships between parties that are usually long-term and dynamic. Managers make decisions about the sort of the relationships they would like to have and how to achieve them and in this context, they have to think strategically. Research was undertaken to identify whether 'successful' subsidised performing arts organisations were indeed more strategic in their focus, whether they had applied a relationship marketing approach and whether such an approach had been influential in the developmento f their 'success'.P reliminary researchw ith senior managersfr om subsidised theatres in the North West of England, found that there was general agreement on what could be considered to be a 'successful' and an 'unsuccessful' theatre. Respondents from tsuccessful' theatres highlighted the importance of collaboration with a variety of stakeholdersw hereasc ollaborationw ith audiences egmentso nly, was found to be the case for unsuccessfutlh eatres. As a result of these findings, a conceptual framework was developed which identified the major partnerships and the specific stakeholder types that need to be considered by a subsidised performing arts organisation if an effective relationship marketing approach is to be developed.T he conceptualf ramework was used as the basisf or subsequenrt esearch involving a multiple case study approach studying two 'successful' theatres and one cunsuccessful' theatre in depth. The strengths of relationship between the various key stakeholder roles and artistic directors within the three theatres were analysed and findings suggest that a link does exist between the building of relationships with a variety of stakeholders, a strategic focus and theatre success.