J. Wendell Forbes

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

CRM is marketing jargon for "customer retention marketing" or "customer relationship marketing." That's the gibberish spouted by number-crunching business school grads and MBAs. If you are in marketing, your business is to create customer relationship magic.

“Never compete with China on cost,” said guru Tom Peters, “and never compete with Wal-Mart on price.” Ever since 1962, when Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Arkansas, the company has operated on a one-size-fits-all marketing philosophy: offer good merchandise at the lowest prices to all customers. And it worked just fine. In its 45th year, Wal-Mart’s $345 billion in sales is more than the GDP of Austria. Now Wal-Mart is coming around to the way direct marketers think—that if you know who your customers are, you can serve them better and make more money. According to Michael Barbaro’s New York

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