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Industry Outsiders: Put Customer First

7/24/2001 3:15 AM Eastern

San Francisco -- Visionary ideas, and not just excellent creative work, will
help marketing executives to best reach their consumers through advertising
campaigns, GSD&M Advertising founder and president Roy M. Spence Jr. said in
a keynote speech to CTAM Summit attendees here Monday.

'A visionary idea turns the masses into a mass market,' Spence said. As
examples, he shared the success stories of clients ranging from Southwest
Airlines Co., with its 'freedom to fly' branding, to the Fannie Mae Foundation,
which tears down the barriers to home ownership.

It's important that a company's brand demonstrates that its core purpose goes
beyond just making money and shares values that appeal to its customer base,
Spence said.

'If consumers think you are [merely] in business to make money for the long
term, then you won't,' he added.

Consumer research also goes a long way toward identifying consumer demands.
'If you give customers what they want -- not what you want them to want -- you
win every time,' Spence said.

And in finding out what consumers desire, marketers should watch behavior,
rather than just asking them about their attitudes, Spence warned.

'People say they want everything,' he said. 'I look at what they want, what
they buy and whether they will buy it again, because it does us no good to do
churn.'

Spence shot down the notion that consumers want more choices. Because
Americans -- especially women -- lead such busy lives today, he added, they like
to rely on brands they trust to save time, rather than being bombarded with too
many choices.

In a separate keynote speech, Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. vice chairman and
chief information officer Dawn Lepore noted that she grew up in a three-channel
television world and hasn't escaped that three-channel mentality today, although
those networks today are typically devoted to children's programming for her
three-year-old son.

Lepore noted that 75 percent of Schwab customers who access the company's Web
site from home still rely on dial-up access. 'We're still waiting for broadband
to reach a critical mass of customers,' she added.

Echoing Spence, Lepore said it's crucial to monitor the habits of customers.
'We put the customer at the center of our business,' she
added.

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