When marketing approaches IT about a relationship marketing solution in the next few quarters--and they will--why should IT listen? Answer: Of all the projects on IT's to-do list for 1998, few have the potential to benefit IT's standing as much as relationship marketing, or one-to-one marketing. One-to-one marketing improves business competitiveness, frees IT to focus on visible projects by empowering marketing to perform its own analyses, and quickly can become mission critical, increasing the influence of IT in the enterprise.

One-to-one marketing, also known as micromarketing or "marketing to an audience of one," involves marketing to individuals rather than groups, based on those individuals' behavior rather than simply demographics. With ready access to complete customer histories, as well as easy-to-use tools for query, analysis, data mining and campaign management, companies can offer individualized treatment at every point of customer interaction: mail, call center, Web, store or branch.

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