Fall 1987 // Volume 25 // Number 3 // Research in Brief // 3RIB1

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Putting Relationships To Work


William G. Boldt
Cornell Extension Representative
Cooperative Extension Service
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York

Newsweek columnist George Will recently observed an ongoing social transition by noting that "McDonald's has more employees than U.S. Steel. Golden arches, not blast furnaces, now symbolize the American economy!"1 While Will's lament of America becoming "McDonaldized" is overstated, the importance of the service economy is not.

Whether called the post-industrial period or information age, research supports Will's contention that we're passing into a new societal era. During the past two decades:

  • 90% of 36 million new U.S. jobs are in the service sector.
  • 33 out of 34 women assuming jobs are employed by services.
  • Most small businesses being formed are service-oriented.2

The implications of this socioeconomic change to Extension are enormous. The key to success is recognizing the nature of the change and helping our clients to adjust. The challenge is as significant as that facing educators during the onset of the Industrial Revolution a century ago, but conventional wisdom developed for managing and marketing manufacturing/production organizations is now obsolete in a service economy.

Putting Relationships To Work3 supports Extension's path-finding role in working with service organizations. It's one of the first Extension research publications explicitly written to strengthen the skills of service managers. This publication conducts a content analysis of service marketing research and successful managerial innovations, using the charter boat industry as a case study. It offers guidelines on how owners of charter boat and other service enterprises can be more effective marketing managers.

Findings indicate that relationship marketing is an important consideration in successful service firms. The majority of revenues derived by charter boat enterprises are from repeat customers. For charter boat owners, the question of effective marketing centers on the need for retaining customers.

The process of transforming indifferent customers into long-term clients involves three important factors, according to DeYoung's research. These include:

  1. Internal Marketing. The most important factor in gaining loyal, long-term clients is PFS (personal, friendly service). Position descriptions and training must emphasize the equal importance of technical duties and marketing skills.
  2. Perception Management. The practice of actively listening to clients. This involves learning what clients value and providing need-fulfilling services.
  3. Relationship Pricing. The practice of rewarding client loyalty through publicized financial incentives.

This practical, research-based publication can also be applied directly to Extension. Because Extension education is a professional service, those concerned with its marketing and management will be intrigued.

In our haste to gain "media visibility," we sometimes overlook Extension's most important marketing resource - relationships with people! Educational organizations wishing to survive the competitive "shake-out" period of the 1990s will need more than media attention. The relationship marketing concepts presented in this publication deserve careful thought and application.


1. K. Albrecht and P. Zemke, Service Amercia! Doing Business in the New Economy (Homewood, Illinois: Dow Jones-Erwin, 1985), p. 1.

2. J. L. Heskett, "Thank Heaven for the Service Sector," Business Week (January 26, 1987), p. 22.

3. Bruce DeYoung, Marketing Your Charter Boat Enterprise: Putting Relationships To Work (Riverhead, New York: Cornell University Information Bulletin 206, 1987).


The review of Targeting Audiences and Using Creative Media Approaches, which I reviewed in the Spring 1987 Journal of Extension, inadvertently omitted the names of the authors and ordering information. The authors, all from Colorado State University, are: Wendy Douglas, Gail Doxtader, Carole Makela, and Judy McKenna.

Targeting Audiences may be ordered for $25 a copy from: Communications Coordinator, Cooperative Extension Communications, 271 Aylesworth Hall, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

This book provides 700+ pages of research-based marketing tools that can help improve educational programs and increase the visibility of Cooperative Extension. It's the most comprehensive Extension - oriented marketing publication that I have reviewed during the past two years. I highly recommend the publication to anyone who's currently interested in marketing Extension.