Original Research

Strategies utilised by communication agencies to build and maintain relationships with clients

Lucinda B. Sutton, Elizabeth M. Kloppers, Louise Bezuidenhout
The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management | Vol 16, No 1 | a825 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajesbm.v16i1.825 | © 2024 Lucinda B. Sutton, Elizabeth M. Kloppers, Louise Bezuidenhout | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 October 2023 | Published: 14 March 2024

About the author(s)

Lucinda B. Sutton, School of Communication, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Elizabeth M. Kloppers, School of Communication, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Louise Bezuidenhout, School of Communication, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Apart from the turbulent South African economic environment, small communication agencies operate in a highly competitive context. Agencies operate in a highly competitive context. Stakeholder relationship management theory argues that organisations should use specific strategies to build and maintain long-term relationships with stakeholders, such as clients, to contribute to the sustainability of the organisation.

Aim: The aim was to determine how communication agencies utilise strategies to facilitate long-term relationships with their clients to survive in a competitive and turbulent South African business environment.

Setting: The study focused on five communication agencies in Potchefstroom, South Africa as a multiple case study design.

Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven senior managers and nine account managers representing the communication agencies.

Results: The communication agencies used almost all the strategies indicated in the stakeholder relationship management theory and added the strategies of availability and understanding to build and maintain relationships with clients.

Conclusion: The communication agencies utilised strategies to maintain long-term relationships with clients in a competitive and unstable context. The study addresses the call for case study research in relationship management on the African continent, qualitative research in the field and research on strategies to build relationships between organisations and stakeholders.

Contribution: This is the first South African study exploring communication agencies’ approach to utilise strategies to manage relationships with clients through the lens of stakeholder relationship management theory. Small organisations and agencies in other sectors can take cognisance of the strategies these agencies employ and adapt the proposed conceptual framework to be appropriate in their specific sectors.


Keywords

account managers; clients; communication agency; stakeholder relationship management; strategies; two-way communication.

JEL Codes

D83: Search • Learning • Information and Knowledge • Communication • Belief • Unawareness; M13: New Firms • Startups; M14: Corporate Culture • Diversity • Social Responsibility

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

Metrics

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