Database Marketing Gets Vote over Management Consultants. (Opinion)

By Bird, Drayton | Marketing, March 7, 2002 | Go to article overview

Database Marketing Gets Vote over Management Consultants. (Opinion)


Bird, Drayton, Marketing


Management consultants are getting a bad name nowadays. No surprise there: how can a 23-year-old MBA who has never run anything in his life genuinely understand a big, complex business? He may be very bright, but he just hasn't had the experience.

In the 80s BT paid many tens of millions to Arthur Andersen to build a database that didn't work. Marks & Spencer, in its direst moments, was awash with consultants, also costing millions, but one wonders what they achieved. When I pitched for some of its direct marketing business about three years ago, I was mildly astonished to find myself presenting to a consultant -- from Andersen again.

Are consultants just for losers? Can you imagine Richard Branson needing one? Or Rupert Murdoch? Mind you, in my experience such people like free advice. A few years ago, Ken Cowley, then one of Murdoch's top honchos in Australia, bought me lunch and picked my brains. What, he asked, could one do with a database? Besides renting the names out, I said, they could sell readers things more easily. They could also profitably offer advertisers a way to reach readers, not just through ads, but directly through the mail.

Later I repeated this advice, and much else, to The Daily Telegraph. I'm told my contact there, Tony Coad, is now advising the Murdoch organisation, so I was intrigued by two recent reports, one from News International and another from tank!, the financial services forum, in its e-newsletter -- which I recommend to anyone in that kind of business.

The first offered a list of two-and-a-half million readers of the News of the World and The Sun for rental. …

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