A brief history

“The new Einstein of Marketing”. “Relationship Marketing Guru”. “Genius”. “True Artist”. “Leonardo da Vinci of the Internet”.

How it all started back in 1989

At the tender age of 22 I came across a book by John Frazer-Robinson, “The Secrets of Effective Direct Mail”, in a German bookshop. This was my first contact with the subject. Until then I knew I wanted to “do Marketing” but without a clue what it actually meant – youthful ignorance I guess ;). I had begun my studies in Business Administration at the University of Mannheim, Germany, but got quickly disillusioned by its backwardness and lack of practical scope.

In September 1989 I started an internship at SIEMENS Ltd. in Johannesburg, South Africa. At the Hardware Administration Systems Department under Mr Richard Gruber I learned the ropes of relational database programming using dBASE IV.

Pretty much at the same time I also found a much more interesting academic challenge: a diploma in Marketing Management, offered by the Institute of Marketing Management in Johannesburg. I subsequently enrolled and completed it in 3 instead of 3 1/2 years.

The next level in 1991

During my final year, I attended the South African Direct Marketing Association’s annual symposium, courtesy of Mr Brian McDonald. At the symposium, which was held in Johannesburg in August 1991, I had the unique opportunity to listen to some of the greatest minds, the likes of Dr. Ichak Adizes, James Rosenfield, Ray Jutkins and many others. The close contact with them left an indelible mark on my mind and paved the way for my future career.

Going on my own in 1993

As fate wanted it, my first job after finally moving to South Africa in March 1993 was with Brian McDonald, for whom I wrote a complete conference management system, also in dBASE IV.

In September that same year I then set out on my own, founding “Canopus Marketing cc”, South Africa’s first and only dedicated Database Marketing and Customer Relationship Management consultancy. It was probably done in a fit of lunacy, because neither did I know the market, nor had I contacts or money.

After passing the hurdle of obtaining permanent residence status in December 1996, it began to take off. First articles were published in local marketing magazines, and my first appearance as a conference speaker rounded off my intense engagement on the Internet.

Leading the pack in 1996

The DM Digest was the Internet’s first discussion list on Database Marketing, and at its prime had over 500 active members. Then Marketing Competence was born, collecting articles and contributions from all over the world on Customer Relationship Management way before it became mainstream.

I concluded several projects in the country, including the development of my own relational Customer Information Management System – linking 13 different databases and performing anything from creating sales reports to running and analysing campaigns to establishing unique “Life Charts”.

Helping Opera become successful in 1997

I then started an assignment with Opera Software, the Norwegian browser developer. There I had the opportunity to greatly influence and determine their marketing and communications strategy. Single-handedly I sold over 6000 licenses in Germany alone over the course of 18 months, while de facto being the face of the company to the world, and also engaging in many other activities there. Opera now has over 500 employees (I was No.6), and is the world’s most successful web browser development company.

This finally taught me that not only could I code what I preach, but that its application in the market place is highly successful – both growth- and profit-wise.

Around the world in 1999

In September 1999, I then embarked on a conference tour that led me to Dubai (UAE), San Francisco (USA), Florianópolis (Brasil), Singapore, Bangkok (Thailand) and Asunción (Paraguay). In between I participated at another conference in Johannesburg, and prepared yet another Internet startup project: Sonork.

Internet Startups from 2000

Since early 2000 I have been working with Sonork SRL; as a result my own consultancy took a bit of a back seat.

Up until March 2004 my time was largely spent with Sonork SRL. I then left the company, which had by then been taken over by GTV, Inc. Mid-March I spent a wonderful week outside Bogotá, Colombia, at their 2nd annual congress “CRM Guru and Marketing 1-1”. I’m pleased to report that a few hundred Colombian CRM fellows are now unlikely to fall into the trap of US-centric “CRM = software”.

Master Key System since 2007

In March 2007 I started the translation of Charles Haanel’s Master Key System to German and have made it my mission to keep his legacy alive ever since. I have translated two more of his books, given over a 100 talks in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Colombia, Latvia and South Africa, and created a number of products and services. Since it is now my aim to introduce this timeless wisdom to businesses worldwide, my paths are meeting once again, allowing me to merge my Customer Relationship Management with my Master Key System expertise for the benefit of all involved.

I am available for talks, workshops and seminars on both topics, and welcome your getting in touch. For more about my Diamond CRM model, click here. For more information about the Master Key System, please visit www.mrmasterkey.com.

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