Bernauer offers marketers 'dollars-and-cents' advice

February 15, 1999


This is one of an ongoing series of articles on interactive marketing leaders who are doing things other marketers could learn from. They are not yet household names. The executives we profile are laboring in the trenches today and will be in the headlines tomorrow. They're the emerging leaders of an emerging marketing discipline.

Name, rank and serial number: David Bernauer, 54, president and chief operating officer, Walgreen Co., Deerfield, Ill.

CV: A lifelong Walgreen's employee: store pharmacist after graduating from North Dakota State University in 1967; held various positions in store management and operations, then became district manager in 1979; regional vice president, 1987; corporate vice president and treasurer, 1990; vice president of purchasing and merchandising, 1992; chief information officer, 1994; president and COO, January 1999.

Mantra: "Everyone should focus on one common language, the language of dollars-and-cents business benefits."

Advice when facing technology investments: "Somehow you have to force that marketing person to have the discipline and the guts to commit to a dollars-and-cents amount. Then the technologist, someone who's been in systems development for a long time, can look at marketing's idea and say, 'This isn't going to work,' and dismiss it out of hand, or 'This idea is great and we better get going right away.'"

Keys to success: "The world is complex today. If the people working for you don't know more than you do, then they're probably not the right people. You need people to work together. You need to provide leadership. You need to explain the goals of the business. We're not a command-and-control kind of environment."

If the business benefits of new technology are unclear: "In my book, that's a cop-out. If you can't stand up for a benefit, at least to an order of magnitude, then IT shouldn't do the project."

Mistakes marketers are likely to make: Forgetting rule No. 1: "The customer wants simplicity and control. Keep focused on what the customer wants. You're always going to be successful."

Career advice: "Concentrate on your management skills. You need to have a real understanding of human behavior and psychology to be successful. You need to understand and have empathy for your fellow workers."

Future Web-based initiatives: Can't discuss them. Keep an eye out.

Michael Krauss is a partner with Diamond Technology Partners in Chicago.
He can be reached at







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