Abandon the Past to Embrace the New

One of my favorite business thinkers, Peter Drucker believed that to lead into the future, you must first abandon the past. He essentially defined this skill as “abandonment.”

So I was wondering if there is something to this concept that we can apply to marketing, and in particular to the direct marketing strategy.

Must we indeed abandon years of testing and the accumulated knowledge of customer behavior for a different set of rules? Or is it more about correctly interpreting past learning and translating the information as a set of undying principles.

People are still driven by the same wants and needs. They desire security. They want to be loved. They want to avoid loss.

As Solomon says,
What has been will be again,
What has been done will be done again;
There is nothing new under the sun.


Some things never change. So what is it that we should abandon in order to embrace the new? Multichannel marketing was advocated and practiced by professional direct marketers years before the term was invented. In fact, the analytics proving the value of Multichannel marketing when correctly implemented was accepted as irrefutable many years ago. We used to call this multimedia. So the only change is the number of available media channels and the term itself.

CRM or customer relationship marketing used to be called database marketing. The software is more powerful than ever. But database marketers were talking about this over 20 years ago. And just as companies then didn’t really know how to make that work well continues as a significant problem for most companies today. The promise is there, but the devil is in the details. In fact, I believe the devil is in the genes --- that is, the corporate genetic structure that cannot seem to practice true CRM.

The list goes on. It is in the terminology that I see the greatest changes and not in the fundamental strategies. Selling people on your services and products one at a time still drives direct marketing.

What changes have you seen in the last several years that have made past strategies obsolete? What are areas of thought we need to abandon to embrace the future?

Posted on September 5, 2007 and filed under General.