retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

ORLANDO - At this week's annual meeting of the Association of Coupon Professionals (ACP) here, I had a chance to spend some time with David Diamond, the former Catalina Marketing executive who now is president of David Diamond Associates, who followed me on the agenda.

I thought Diamond made a couple of excellent points definitely worth repeating:

• "Nobody wants to be marketed to," he said, but "everybody wants great customer service." The magic of companies like Amazon and Zappos is that they both deliver a great customer experience with great customer service - and that service is filled with marketing messages. The reason they're not perceived as marketing messages is that they are completely relevant to the individual customers.

• The barrier to delivering coupons and promotions that are highly targeted and relevant is "not technology," he said. "The barrier is us … all the technology exists, and we just need to agree on standards, figure out who is paying for it, and then deploy it." Of course, this isn't as easy as it sounds, since the interests of various segments of the industry are not always aligned…and, he said, these segments aren't always very good at getting past these disagreements.

• "The agricultural age, for its first 500 years, didn't really work," he said, suggesting that it took that long for people to really figure out how to be effective and efficient farmers. "For the first 100 years of the industrial age, nobody knew how to build a factory. We're now just in the very beginning of the information age, and we're in the period where things don't work."

But, Diamond said, they will … and the various retail, supplier and vendor interests that have an investment in the coupon business have to work together toward being ready for when that moment comes, lest they be left behind.

Smart, Eye-Opening points, I think.
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