Cover Story: Direct Marketer of the Year: Pegg Nadler
To that end, Nadler says nonprofits were the first organizations to take methodical approaches to understanding their audiences, or members. During the '60s, nonprofits were trouncing commercial enterprises with the exception of those like American Express and Reader's Digest.
"What were nonprofits doing early on?" Nadler asks. "They were writing down all their donor information on index cards—the earliest form of database marketing. They got it so soon. … Survival. That was the only way that they were going to be able to keep the funding coming in."
Commercial entities caught on to the retention concept later, she says, when aggressive acquisition campaigns no longer worked as easily. Nonprofits, which had been cultivating their existing donor bases all along and moving them up the giving pyramid one step at a time, served as a lesson to corporate America, Nadler says.
Enter the next set of visionaries Nadler cites: Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, the founding partners of Norwalk, Conn.-based customer-centric marketing strategy consultancy Peppers & Rogers Group. Nadler says the duo talks incessantly about one-to-one marketing. Or, as the group's Web site attests, "treating different customers differently" by using data to keep and grow customer relationships.
That creative rather than facts-only approach to database marketing points to the last influencer Nadler mentions: Arthur Middleton Hughes. Hughes is the founder of the Database Marketing Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a senior strategist with Burlington, Mass.-based e-mail marketing firm e-Dialog. She interprets his stance as saying that there are two types of database marketers—constructors, who assemble lists and successfully build the database, and creators, who take those names and turn them into loyal, returning customers.
Finally, in Grossman's case, the admiration is clearly mutual. Grossman describes Nadler as a politically savvy "overachiever" who has no use for "fluff" and will work as hard as she makes anyone else work.