Adopt precision marketing or be
March 1, 2004
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Chief marketing officers, listen up: Two consultants with deep
roots in technology and corporate reengineering are about to rock
your world. These consultants work with Fair Isaac Corp., the
Minneapolis-based global provider of customer analytics and decision
technology. If you see them, be careful.
Their names are Gresh Brebach and Jeff Zabin. Their new book,
Precision Marketing, will give your CEO bosses and your
CFO colleagues one more reason to hold you accountable for your
spending, effectiveness--and waste.
Breback and Zabin say you spend
more than “$234 billion on advertising and other forms of marketing
promotion.” A little improvement could have a big payback.
“With Precision Marketing,” Zabin says, “you’re creating
a whole new level of accountability. You’re able to measure incremental
lift. You’re able to track business outcomes. It’s a closed-loop
These technologists suggest you
reconsider your skills, your approaches, your organizational structures
and your priorities. Brebach and Zabin portend, “The demise of
technology-supported marketing and the rise of technology-enabled
marketing.” They forecast an end to mass marketing and the rise
of a hybrid approach that blends the best of mass marketing with
a new more precise approach. In the process they share plenty
of examples from such major organizations as Procter & Gamble
Co., Kraft Foods Inc., U.K.-based Tesco plc and RBC Royal Bank,
Canada’s largest financial services institution.
Before you blow off Precision
Marketing, saying, “I’ve heard it all before,” stop by Barnes
& Noble and skim Northwestern University professor Phil Kotler’s
foreword to the book. “CEOs and CFOs are finally demanding accountability
from their marketing organizations,” Kotler writes. “For the first
time, the executive boardroom is being dominated by talk of marketing
I hear the ad folk muttering, “Yeah, sure,” as they board planes
for Los Angeles to make 30-second commercials.
Dudes, hear this: Brebach is a proven corporate revolutionary.
The last time he took aim at a major corporate function, he changed
that position foreverwhat does he mean?. He also helped spawn
a $12 billion-dollar enterprise, Accenture. This Brebach character
is no one to ignore. His co-author, Zabin, is pretty smart as
well. (Zabin’s last book The Seven Steps to Nirvana: Strategic
Insights into eBusiness Transformation was co-authored with
technology and marketing strategist and Northwestern professor
Turn the clock back to the mid-1980s. Brebach felt information
technology directors in Global 2000 companies weren’t cutting
the mustard. New technology offered broad potential to serve strategic
business needs. Instead of breakthrough results, we got islands
of computing. Technology was mostly an accounting and bookkeeping
tool, and IT directors weren’t stepping up.
Long before the Internet, or even
the PC, Brebach saw technology’s potential to help the entire
business; purchasing, manufacturing, distribution, sales, marketing,
finance, accounting--the whole enchilada. Company information
systems needed to be totally integrated across the enterprise.
The potential was there; it seemed obvious. But most corporate
technology executives weren’t ready for the change and disruption.
They stuck to their old ways.
As head of Arthur Andersen’s U.S.
management information consulting division and later as a director
of McKinsey & Co., Brebach went from CEO to CEO extolling
the efficiencies and benefits of “systems integration.” CIOs who
failed to pay heed were often ousted and replaced by their CEOs.
Brebach agrees there’s an analogy CMOs should consider. “In the
1980s the IT function was just a cost center. It was an unmeasured
corporate group. You had to get in there and establish performance
measures. Marketing is the last corporate function,” Brebach contends,
“that is unmeasured.”
So CMOs, your time is near. Cling to the past if you dare. Or,
choose the path of “precision marketing.”
What exactly is precision marketing?
Brebach and Zabin liken it to precision military strikes. In this
age of customer scarcity and hypercompetition, they say we need
to “use a technology-enabled process for managing customer data,
analyzing that data and using it to drive more efficient and profitable
Kotler spells out the situation: “Many marketing organizations
are skilled in only four traditional marketing activities: market
research, advertising, sales promotion and sales force.” Marketers
fail to gain all the capabilities required to succeed in today’s
technology-driven precision marketing environment. Kotler cites
“customer relationship management, partner relationship management,
database marketing and data mining, integrated marketing communications,
and profitability analysis by product, segment, customer and channel,”
as areas of weakness.
Brebach and Zabin offer CMOs solutions and examples. They propose
mechanisms for capturing data about customers and getting a fuller
view of the customer. They reexamine segmentation approaches using
today’s technologies and define a concept for drawing up a blueprint
of the ideal customer.
They propose business processes that foster the growth of profitable
customer relationships. They delve into methods for integrating
customer data so that predictive analytics can be applied. And
they show how analytical techniques are at the core of delivering
long-term customer relationships that are profitable.
As Brebach and Zabin are quick to point out, Precision Marketing
is a book for “drivers, and not mechanics.” This book won’t teach
you everything you need to know to apply precision marketing in
every situation, but it will make CMOs and those who aspire to
be CMOs aware of their skill gaps and point them in the right
While much that is said inPrecision Marketing could be
gleaned or intuited from earlier works, what makes this book compelling
is the source. Brebach isn’t merely a big concept guy. He’s a
persuasive, hands-on management consultant who gets CEOs to invest
in making real change.
If you’re a CMO, shrug off Precision Marketing if you
like, but you just might find yourself invited to the CEO’s office
with a smiling Gresh Brebach sitting at the table. If Brebach
shows up on your doorstep, remember, you were warned.
Michael Krauss is a partner with
Marion Consulting Partners based in Highland Park, Ill., and can
be reached at Michael.Krauss@Marionpartners.com