Magazine article Marketing

Prophet of DM

Magazine article Marketing

Prophet of DM

Article excerpt

Don Peppers is often referred to as an evangelist. This is partly because he fits the image of the stereotypical TV preacher. He's American for a start, he's even from the Midwest. He's also a smooth talker. In fact, after listening to him for an hour you'd probably hand over a couple of grand if he asked you to. More importantly he fits the dictionary definition: a zealous advocate of a cause.

But when Peppers was in London last week, he wasn't preaching the Gospel ("I go to church but I'm not overly religious," he says). No, Peppers' vision is what he calls 'one-to-one' marketing.

Peppers and his partner, Martha Rogers, run a consulting group, Marketing One to One, in Connecticut with 35 staff. They are to publish their third book later this year and open a UK office. The first book The One-to-One Future: Building Business Relationships One Customer at a Time, was published in 1993 and has sold over a quarter of a million copies worldwide. It is seen as the seminal text in relationship marketing. Their second, Enterprise One to One, was published last year and has already sold 70,000 copies.

Five years on, the song remains essentially the same: how companies can use the new tools of the database, interactivity and mass customisation technology to improve customer retention and increase their share of each customer's business.

These days Peppers says he feels like "an evangelist enjoying the fruits of his labours. People react differently. There used to be this tremendous sense of 'Aha!' but now they know and are looking for practical solutions".

But 'twas not always thus. When Peppers' first book came out he says it landed with a "soft thud". "Very few business publications reviewed it and sales were slow."

What changed all this was the growing impact of the World Wide Web. Marketers were beginning to recognise the significance of being able to interact with customers and by 1995 the book sales were hitting a peak.

This was a relief for Peppers, who had relinquished a successful marketing services career to expound his theories.

In January 1992, when he resigned as head of Chiat Day's direct marketing arm, the Wall Street Journal referred to Peppers as "one of the highest profile advertising executives of the 1980s". Having started his career as an accountant for an airline, Peppers found his real forte as an ad agency new business consultant. In 1989 he was poached by Interpublic's Lintas agency for a salary reported to top $400,000. …

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