July 22, 2014

What Has Changed Since "Hillstrom's Database Marketing"?

We're going to take a few days, and talk about how times have changed, through the eyes of books and booklets.

This book was first, folks (click here). It took about six months to write the thing. Don Libey graciously published the book.

The book was essentially a retrospective of the work I'd done in my last year at Lands' End, and covered a ton of the work I'd done at Eddie Bauer. To promote the book, I started a blog, a place where I'd write on a daily basis. In March of 2006, the first post was published. I was thrilled, months later, when a post would go viral and I'd see ten or fifteen visitors an hour. Today, between blog visitors, blog subscribers, and Twitter followers, we're north of 10,000 folks a month. So let this be a lesson to the kids ... if you do something every single day for eight or more years, you might attract an audience.

What changed since publishing the book? Big Data.

I can still remember a person, back in 2011, publishing a link to the book on Twitter and copying me on the tweet ... "how does it feel to work in an industry that died and was replaced with something more interesting?" Good question!

I use many of the techniques in the book today, when working on projects for private equity folks. Many of the concepts in the "Buddies" series in the book are applied to private equity projects. And the Gliebers Dresses series wouldn't have happened had the response to the Buddies pet store section of the book not been so positive.

But by and large, the concepts in the book are not congruent with the popular style of digital analytics leveraged by modern analysts. The book helps one see how a business might evolve and change over time. What changed is that, across the board, modern measurement is about understanding a point in time instead of changes over time.

If you do the kind of work I do, you are blessed to do work that is not commoditized. To my knowledge, few (if any) vendors have elected to put the methodologies outlined in this book into their software applications. That's been a good thing!