Online personalization not a marketing panacea

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Orlando, Fla.--Online personalization is not proving to be panacea for b-to-b marketers, according to a panel of marketing experts who discussed the topic Tuesday at the Direct Marketing to Business conference in Orlando. "It's a great promise, but it's not a simple thing," said Russell Kern, president of Kern Direct. The problem is how labor intensive it is to craft multiple marketing messages, he said.

Fred Young, chairman, president and CEO of Black Box Corp., a network services provider, said his company considered personalizing its catalogs but that the return on investment wasn't there.

"We've asked our customers and they've said, 'Give it all to us. We'll personalize it ourselves,' " Young said.

Nick Parham, Cisco Systems senior manager for Internet and direct marketing, said of personalization, "It's an art right now. It's not a science."

One of the four panelists was considerably more upbeat than the others about personalization. "I think there's a real future in it," said Ken Burke, founder, president and CEO of Multimedia Live.

--John Obrecht

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