Marketing on all levels

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Name: Jim Everhart
Title: VP-director of strategic development Company: Godfrey Advertising
Location: Lancaster, Pa.
A professional writer for 30 years, Jim Everhart is an award-winning journalist, ad copywriter and creative director. As VP and director of strategic development for Godfrey Advertising, a b-to-b ad agency, Everhart works with clients such as Bethlehem Steel Corp., Dana Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. to develop personalized marketing programs. Prior to joining Godfrey, Everhart produced corporate videos and multimedia presentations for about 10 years.

Q: How is personalization benefiting marketers? A: I see three levels of personalization. First is opt-in or permission marketing, in which users are asked to give us permission to market to them. Second is a more advanced, one-to-one approach in which we create customized pages based on the information that a user has provided. And finally, at the highest level, is technology-driven personalization, in which the server actually presents users with different content based on their previous responses.

Q: How much does personalization cost to implement? A: I think the less you spend, the better. Everyone should do permission marketing. It’s easy, it’s effective—30% response rates are common, compared with 2% in traditional direct mail—and, more important, it’s morally right to ask people’s permission to market to them. At the second level, we simply invest in the technology to provide customized pages to our most serious prospects, after they’ve asked us to market to them. At the highest level, however, I am not sure advanced personalization makes sense in b-to-b. It’s extremely expensive, it doesn’t have a proven b-to-b track record and it’s a throwback to the kind of mass media broadcasting that horrifies the typical Net user.

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