How to survive and thrive

The One To One Future:Building Relationships One Customer at a TimeBy Don Peppers and Martha RogersA Currency Book published by Doubleday a Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group 1993Reviewed by Marty MyersMost of us recognize that advertising is in the...

The One To One Future:

Building Relationships One Customer at a Time

By Don Peppers and Martha Rogers

A Currency Book published by Doubleday a Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group 1993

Reviewed by Marty Myers

Most of us recognize that advertising is in the midst of a paradigm shift. What isn’t?

The big question is: What will the new paradigm be?

There is a strong body of informed opinion in Canada and abroad – I can supply a list of the opinion-holders – that the era of the big agency is over.

As mass marketing succumbs to the insults of the new economics and the assaults of advanced technology, major marketers cut and trim and pare and their advertising agencies, ever dependent, shrivel and wither around them.

Earlier this year, in a talk to the B.C. Chapter of the American Marketing Association about the agency of the future, I attempted, perhaps injudiciously, to prophesy where advertising was going.

My dire predictions about the decay and debilitation of the old mass marketing paradigm and the consequent delayering and dismantling of major advertising agencies, were, I thought at the time, about as apocalyptic as they could get.

Now, a new book called The One To One Future predicts even more devastation, explains why it is inevitable and shows how to cope with the inevitability.

In its exploration of the technological thrust of interactive media and computers underlying advertising’s present paradigmatic upheaval, this timely treatise makes it clear I only scratched the surface.

Communications and information technologies now here or on the near horizon will eliminate the underlying basis for mass marketing itself, the authors say.

New rules, new tactics, and different competitive strategies will have to be devised. We are going to have to get busy.

This technology-generated ‘discontinuity’ will compel businesses to compete under a different set of rules.

The One To One Future sets out the new rules and shows marketers not only how to survive but how to thrive in this new world of marketing.

The authors know their stuff. One, marketing guru Don Peppers, was from 1988-90 Lintas:New York’s hot, new business chaser and later president of Chiat/Day’s direct marketing arm.

Now a high profile marketing consultant, and one of the growing legion that believes big advertising agencies are on their way to extinction, the insightful Peppers has a way with quotable pronouncements.

‘They’re like fleas on a very sick dog,’ he opined recently in Advertising Age, of former Lintas colleagues, shaken by Lintas’ major account losses.

‘They know the dog is sick, but they don’t know how to return him to health,’ he writes. ‘At the same time, they don’t want the dog to die.’

In The One To One Future, Peppers and co-author Martha Rogers, a former prizewinning retail copywriter and marketing director and now associate professor of marketing in the College of Business Administration of Bowling Green State University of Ohio, have written an explosive book about where marketing is going.

It will, I believe, stand the marketing community on its ear. Or its rear. It may be difficult for most of us now to imagine life after mass marketing. But we are going to have to.

With example after daunting example, the authors tell us how – and why – to give up mass marketing, and, in its place, start ‘building relationships one customer at a time.’

Constructing their argument with meticulous logic, Peppers and Rogers describe and explore and explain the new marketing paradigm now unfolding about us.

It is, they say, the inevitable result of emerging media technologies and the decreasing cost of computing power in what is being called the Information Revolution.

If the authors are correct – and I fear they are – the ‘information revolution’ is turning into a revolution against mass marketing.

Needless to say, this is the same mass marketing that we have been taking for granted all these years, the mass marketing that has fed us so well, for so long, at least until recently when cracks started to appear as a result of the fundamental, structural changes that the hi-tech takeover has been bringing to the world of business.

But not to worry, say Peppers and Rogers. There are other ways to market, better ways.

Using the Peppers and Rogers one-to-one techniques, marketers can learn to identify their loyal customer base and break down the wall between customers and producers, so the former actually advise the latter.

This will enable marketers to understand clearly what customers want today and will want tomorrow.

This is a radically new way of thinking about business, a life beyond mass media, a life in which a one-to-one marketer will communicate with customers in a dynamic new way – one customer at a time – entering into a dialogue with customers who will collaborate with the businesses that know how to communicate with their customers.

It is all now possible because for what it cost an individual marketer to track the purchases of a single customer in 1950 individual purchases of several million customers today can be determined today. As a result, business will manage and differentiate customers, not just products.

It is hard to think of the marketing task this way.

For decades, marketing managers have been taught to think in terms of audiences, unique selling propositions, brand positioning and the universal appeal of brand names made famous by frequent and memorable advertising.

Thanks to mass media and mass marketing, marketers have tended to see opportunity in a stadium full of people, rather than in the handful of particular individuals in the stadium who are the heaviest, the most loyal buyers.

‘Customers are not on-off switches,’ say Peppers and Rogers. ‘They are volume dials. They can and do turn the volume up and down on the various products and services they use over a lifetime.

‘Instead of concentrating on one product at a time and trying to sell it to as many customers as possible during a fiscal period, tomorrow’s share-of customer marketer will concentrate on one customer at a time, and try to sell that customer as many products as possible over the customer’s lifetime.’

The main message is that rather than share of market, business must now seek share of customer. This will be heresy to old-time mass marketers, religiously trapped in the old business orthodoxy. They will cling to their dogma and suffer for it.

‘Two hundred years ago, the Industrial Revolution centralized the workforce,’ the authors point out. ‘The Information Revolutions will reverse the process, eventually sending half of us or more back home

‘The relatively brief era in history during which an adult could enter the workforce, be employed for 40 decades by a single enterprise, and retire with a pension and a gold watch is gone forever.

‘We are returning to a society based on hunting and gathering. We will eat as well as we can forage – for ideas, entertaining images, or service that can be performed for others for a profit. And we will all have to forage.’

If you have read this far, chances are, you are in the target group for this book. You had better read The One To One Future now. While there is still time.

Marty Myers is chairman of Miller Myers Bruce DallaCosta in Toronto.