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1:1 Marketing: Identifying And Knowing Your Customers Is Both Mandatory And Achievable

By Bill Piwonka | Posted on August 01, 2013

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“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him or her and sells itself.” – Peter Drucker

the one

It’s been forty years since Peter Drucker wrote the quote above and twenty years since Don Peppers and Martha Rogers published their seminal marketing book, The One to One Future. Back in 1993 they started the conversation for marketers on how we could use the “[then] burgeoning technology and access to [big] data to “[bring] us back to an old fashioned way of doing business by making it possible to remember relationships with individual customers – sometimes millions of them – one at a time, just as shop owners and craftspeople did with their few hundred customers 150 years ago.”

Its time we stopped writing and talking about this concept and started executing on it!


Even if the challenge seems daunting and it’s easier to delude ourselves into believing the incremental gains we are making in market share, revenue, site traffic, leads or whatever metric highlights the success of our current efforts the most, the reality is that our customers and prospects are fed up.

Consider this: 98% of consumers report having received ads, emails, etc. that were mistargeted. “So what?” you might think, “we are all conditioned to ignore these things and it doesn’t really affect our individual actions.” Except that almost half of consumers say they will abandon a brand after just TWO mistargeted communications (ads, emails, promotions, etc.). A simple click of an unsubscribe link removes your ability to proactively communicate with that consumer forever.

The “burgeoning” technology Peppers and Rogers wrote about exists today and leading brands (your competitors!) are using it to their advantage. They are moving beyond interrupt-driven strategies and are using the information their consumers willingly share with them to create relevant and personally meaningful experiences for them. By hyper–knowing and serving their best customers, they are building loyalty and advocacy that drives even more market share gains.

This movement is something we’ll be exploring a lot on our blog in the coming months. We’ll share stories of companies that are doing this well, research that supports my contentions above and advice on how you can accelerate your own efforts to engage with your individual consumers.

I’ll close with another quote from “The One to One Future” which I hope will spur you into thinking about how you will affect your present day marketing strategy.

“When two marketers are competing for the same customer’s business, all other things being equal, the marketer with the greatest scope of information about that particular customer — the marketer with the most extensive and intimate relationship with that customer — will be the more efficient competitor.”

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About the author

Bill Piwonka

Bill Piwonka

VP of Marketing

Even after 25 years in the trenches, Bill remains fascinated, curious and passionate about the art and science of marketing. He's convinced that most people think they know how to effectively market, but few really know how to do it. At Janrain, he finds himself at the intersection of technology, metrics, process and the art of marketing and following his bliss.

View all posts by Bill Piwonka