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Developing BTB relationships through direct marketing: customers' perceptions

Raquel Reis (University Lusíada de Vila Nova de Famalicão, Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal)
Caroline Oates (Sheffield University Management School, Sheffield, UK)
Martina McGuinness (Sheffield University Management School, Sheffield, UK)
Dominic Elliott (University of Liverpool Management School, Liverpool, UK)

Direct Marketing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1750-5933

Article publication date: 21 August 2009




The purpose of this paper is to explore how business‐to‐business (BTB) relationships may be developed through direct marketing (DM) in the context of a Portuguese training organization.


Semi‐structured interviews (30) are undertaken, including 24 training directors and six participants from 30 different organizations. A grounded theory approach as used in data analysis is employed.


Two key roles of DM emerged from the paper: to establish a relationship between customers and training companies, this being dependent on the relevance of DM to the recipients' jobs/activities combined with the credibility of the DM source; and DM has a conditional role in the relationship development between customers and training companies. DM only has a role in developing relationships if the received DM is relevant to customers' training needs combined with positive perceptions of the past training performance in customers' minds. These perceptions are linked to quality and satisfaction, customers making an immediate association between the DM source and past training performance.

Practical implications

Customers want to receive DM from training companies which is relevant to their professional interests. These customers desire further follow‐up and diagnosis from training providers than is currently the case. Training providers are thus losing market opportunities. Further dialogue and interaction between companies and customers is necessary.


There has been limited empirical study of the processes and activities of DM in developing relationships in BTB contexts using a qualitative approach around customers' experiences.



Reis, R., Oates, C., McGuinness, M. and Elliott, D. (2009), "Developing BTB relationships through direct marketing: customers' perceptions", Direct Marketing: An International Journal, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 203-221.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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