Dave Frankland [Posted by Dave Frankland]

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The Customer Intelligence team introduces an ongoing series of interviews with industry luminaries that we call "Intelligent Dialogues". For the inaugural session, we interviewed Stan Rapp, Chairman of Engauge, and recognized by Advertising Age as one of the 101 individuals who shaped advertising in the 20th Century.

At next week's DMA Annual Conference, Rapp will launch a new book titled Reinventing Interactive and Direct Marketing. wn withRapp introduces a concept he calls iDirect – which leverages a
direct marketing framework and a full range of digital tools to engage
with consumers at a time and place of their own choosing. For our first
Intelligent Dialogues interview, we sat down with Rapp and asked about the book and about the changes he sees in the market.

Forrester: Stan, tell us first about the catalyst for the book and also, "why now"?

Rapp: The catalyst was a conversation with John Greco, the CEO of the DMA, over lunch nine months ago. It turned out we shared a common concern about the gulf existing between a rapidly expanding, new “interactive industry” and the long-established direct marketing business-generating powerhouse. The interactive creatives were focused on new pathways to customer engagement without nearly enough attention to the data-driven accountability and addressability at the heart of going direct. There was a failure to grasp that digital is direct. At the same time many direct marketers, while embracing e-commerce, did not fully grasp how direct is being transformed by digital. We agreed that direct and digital were seen by far too many marketers as separate disciplines when actually they are one and the same.

Interactive without a direct marketing mind-set focuses mainly on providing sticky involvement. Direct without an interactive mind-set focuses mainly on gaining immediate sales and acceptable cost per response. What was lacking is a model for what happens when it’s all joined seamlessly. John thought the challenge called for a new book embracing the confluence of direct and digital.

I edited the book and authored its Introduction. During the past nine months, I came to realize that we were creating a new marketing paradigm for the digital era, which we call iDirect. We think of iDirect as being built on a framework of proven DM addressability, and it utilizes an abundance of digital tools for engagement with prospects or customers at a time and place of their own choosing.

Forrester: What is the biggest change you see in companies adopting an iDirect approach?

Rapp: Here is what I believe iDirect marketers do better than anyone else:

  • They create conversations with customers, as a first thought, not an afterthought. iDirect Marketers turn social data into incremental dollars.
  • They give collecting, appending and analyzing data the highest priority. iDirect marketers know how to apply customer intelligence for best results.
  • They generate a multitude of ROI positive revenue streams from online and offline relationships.
  • They send Lifetime Customer Value into the stratosphere with new sales promotion tools benefiting from a cascade of online customer behavioral insights.
  • They set a specific goal when planning any interactive or advertising campaign. iDirect marketers never fly blind.

And iDirect marketers know how to predict the unpredictable. Predictive modeling in combination with interactive relationships forged online produce amazing, measurable results.

Forrester: As you know, at Forrester, and particularly on our team, we write a lot about customer intelligence. We’ve seen the world of customer intelligence hold up pretty well over the past year, despite the challenging economy. What’s your take on the reason for that, and how significant is it that in many organizations customer intelligence grew out of the direct marketing arena?

Rapp: The fascination with customer intelligence began when the information age arrived some time around 1980. It was pacesetting direct marketers who seized upon a newly arrived magic potion – database marketing – to begin a new marketing era. A decade later, direct marketers were already talking about utilizing customer intelligence to begin the pursuit of one-to-one marketing. And it was direct marketers who led the way in taking customer intelligence to the next level – Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM).

Now with extraordinary new digital tools at our command to drive the growth of customer intelligence, it is only natural for direct marketers to be taking the lead once again. Customer intelligence is the core driver of the new iDirect Marketing platform.

Forrester: As a member of the DMA Hall of Fame, a founder of a global agency that bears your name, and the chairman of a new breed of agency, it’s so impressive that you continue to push the envelope within the marketing industry. What keeps you going, and if you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change within the world of marketing?

Rapp: What keeps me going is the energy generated in discovering unexpected solutions to perplexing marketing problems. The possibility of sparking explosive new ideas at a time when so much more can be done than ever before, is the catalyst that keeps me pushing the envelope.

The one thing I most want is to see a transformation in the mind-set of marketers from “what can I get out of this customer” to “what can I do for this customer”. We need more caring and daring from marketers.

Google may not be free from doing evil these days but the folks there are incredibly good at providing free analytic tools that help small business get big results on the web. That’s one of many caring and daring moves that contribute mightily to Google’s unprecedented success. You can visit the web sites for Nike ID and Nike Plus for a further demonstration of what caring about the needs of customers in daring new ways can do for a brand.

Forrester: Thank you, Stan, for joining us and for sharing your insights.
Stay tuned for future interviews and Intelligent Dialogues!