John Hallick founded Customer Potential Management (CPM) Corporation in 1978 and has served as CEO since then.
A lifelong resident of Chillicothe, Hallick studied computer science at Bradley University. He is a software engineer, consultant to IBM and an educator who has taught at the university level. Hallick served on Bradley’s computer science advisory board and is past president of the Central Illinois Chapter of the American Marketing Association.
He and his wife, Jamie, have two sons: Erick, 23, who is vice president of information systems and services at CPM; and James, 21, a CPM consultant who is pursuing degrees in computer science and electrical engineering at MIT.
What is the main focus of Customer Potential Management and why did you develop this company?
CPM is a technology company that develops intellectual products to help businesses conduct ongoing, interactive dialogues with customers and prospects.
We transform data into a Web Warehouse™ to draw a total picture of customers based on their purchasing preferences and past activity.
Our clients use this data bank to solve business problems and make more informed marketing decisions, and as a unique resource that allows businesses to have a dialogue with individual customers rather than groups.
Our way of doing business is dynamic. It’s flexible and interchangeable. We bring our technology to clients with a time-tested process and mold it to the needs of each company. The result is an environment for unlimited potential.
For a long time now, CPM has been global in the financial industry and nationwide in healthcare. What have you been so successful worldwide, but less visible in Peoria?
Our original targeted prospects were the top 1,000 financial service organizations – most of which are overseas. We chose the industry because our software and technology products could solve its most pressing problems while making customer relationships more efficient and personal.
As our clients used our products, demand increased from Europe to Asia to Australia, earning CPM global recognition. Though many of the company’s financial clients are outside the U.S., a local company, Commerce Bancshares, is one of our national customers.
In the health care arena, we have secured national clients because we developed database and marketing applications to achieve industry goals.
Our products help businesses better understand and respond to customer demographics – who they are, what they use or like, what their future consumer behavior may be. This data is broken down to the smallest segment – the individual – so businesses look at and react to their clients on a one-to-one basis.
To achieve this, we developed a process model that re-engineers or redefines marketing and the communication that exists between companies, their customers and prospects.
CPM’s technology is known as push technology. Push technology is when the computer looks for things to do and then notifies the user about it – pushing information to the place it is needed. While push technology is a new buzzword, we have used and pioneered this at CPM years ago.
The same is true with other capabilities we have developed, such as data mining and data warehouses. We produced the technologies, but the industry gave the names that became the common definitions.
We use push technology to deliver targeted sales opportunities and information directly to customers via traditional e-mail, telemarketing, advertising or a combination of these vehicles.
How is CPM different from other marketing companies?
We have always been rooted in technology because it can enable and assist marketing. We have a system for predicting behavior that makes a complex problem manageable, allowing businesses to get closer to their customers.
We can identify unprofitable customers, and at the same time, help companies focus their efforts on the most viable ones.
But beyond the technology, we have a vertically integrated approach to customer relationship marketing. We are a single-source service supplier offering a first class advertising agency, electronic marketing and maintenance, as well as direct marketing services.
We integrate all these communication channels into a cohesive communication strategy and then implement and evaluate that plan. But whether a company chooses to utilize all of our capabilities, or only needs assistance in one aspect of the process – CPM offers the cross-sell opportunity.
How does your innovative Just in Time Marketing™ program benefit both businesses and their clients?
We pioneered Just in Time Marketing™, a new concept and process model for marketing, with financial institutions around the world. The traditional process model for marketing is to define a list of thousands of individuals and either call them or send them a direct mail package.
Just in Time Marketing™ is communicating as required at the right time, sending the right message through the right channel.
Marketers can waste millions of dollars marketing to people who don’t want or need their product. Blind marketing risks angering – even alienating – customers while decreasing the overall effects of direct marketing.
With Just in Time Marketing™ we look at individual customer information and behavior, shown in the database, and then determine what is important to the customer.
The computer looks for customer interest in a product, then send a marketing message to the appropriate individuals.
This builds and strengthens company-client relationships. From the customer’s standpoint, he receives less junk and more of what he is interested in, when he wants it.
The business operates more efficiently because it is not wasting money on hit or miss or useless communications.
Tell about the various divisions of CPM and what they do.
Today, CPM has five divisions
- Creative and Direct Marketing Production. This group handles the design and production of direct and World Wide Web based marketing
- Information Systems and Services (ISS) builds databases, communication networks and mathematical modes. The ISS group is responsible for the operation of our World Wide Web networks and servers.
- Software Development performs the research and development that ends up as the new CPM Technologies and products. The newer products included World Wide Web database technologies – some of which has resulted in patent applications.
- Account Management manages our relationships with our customers. They exist to ensure our customers derive the maximum benefit from our products and services.
- New Business Development. This division is our sales group.
CPM expanded in the last year, opening an office in Madison, Wis., and employing additional people in a number of other states. Why was Madison a good place for a second office, and does that business community have similarities to East Peoria? How many employees do you have?
CPM employs 35 people in four locations, with the main locations in East Peoria and Madison, Wis. We were in a classic business position that all entrepreneurs hope to face: demand for our services had outstripped our ability to supply them.
Peoria is the home of CPM because it is where I started the company and many of our employees have roots here. Peoria is a good place to live economically and one of the most reasonable cities around in which to do business.
At the same time, we knew Madison offered both a knowledge base for collaboration and an employee pool with the background and skills we needed. The University of Wisconsin is doing database research, a key component of the technology we are developing. Madison also has a culture and value system similar to East Peoria. So, being easily accessible from Peoria, Madison was an ideal place for a second office.
We also employ individuals in several other states who work out of home offices and “telecommute” and/or visit the home office regularly.
These individuals offer certain skills and expertise that are essential to our success, but it is not necessary for them to be based in Madison or Peoria.
How, if any, has the direction of the company changed over the years?
The focus of the company has not significantly changed; however, the enabling technologies have. As new technologies are developed, CPM leverages our knowledge of business problems and technology. The results are technology-based business solutions.
The beauty of this technology we develop is that it’s horizontal in nature, meaning the basic premise or workhorse can be modified and adapted easily for any industry. Every business has customers and the need to understand them to build strong relationships with them.
What has the arrival of the Internet meant to your business?
The Internet is an excellent communication and marketing channel for today’s businesses. At CPM, we use the Internet for most of our business communications through e-mail. This allows us to communicate more accurately and quickly, providing better services to our customers and reduced overall costs.
We also developed an internal application called CyberLink. CyberLink automates our time-keeping and project management over the Web.
With the CyberLink technologies, our account managers can immediately view with status of their projects and the costs incurred.
Our accounting department can gather costs instantly for building analyses. We also have software support home pages that enable our customers to place support calls and download the latest version of our software.
CPM also maintains home pages, with the main one being www.cpm.com. This provides our current and potential customers instant access to information about CPM.
Lastly, the Internet has stimulated the creation of new products and services that CPM uses to help solve our customers’ problems, providing CPM with another source of revenue.
Why is electronic marketing so important to today’s marketing mix?
The immediacy, convenience and accessibility of the World Wide Web and e-mail have made electronic marketing a preferred way to send and receive information over other channels such as television or direct mail. E-mail also is less expensive, with messages easily generated and personalized.
The World Wide Web helps level the playing field between large corporations and small businesses because of its cost-effectiveness.
For example, let’s say a Peoria company develops a product and wants to sell and distribute it worldwide.
The cost of this traditional business plan may be prohibitive. But now let’s say the company puts together a web site through which it can attract and measure interest in its product and receive orders. There is a more efficient and less costly way to interact with potential clients.
It is also an instantaneous feedback mechanism by which the company can communicate with its clients abut pricing, product availability and account information.
The downside of the explosion of web sites is that we consumers will receive and overwhelming number of offers and choices. Such an environment makes it critical for businesses to know how they can best meet consumer needs.
How important is it for a company to have its own website today? What steps should a company take before making a decision on developing a Web presence?
From a consumer standpoint, the World Wide Web is quickly becoming a preferred channel of communication, a place to find information, and a vehicle to purchase products for many people.
The numbers vary, but it is estimated that in North America close to 60 million people are using the Internet, and this number is increasing by 25 to 50 percent a year.
For a company that sells products and services to consumers, they need to understand that this growing consumer market expects to do business in a different manner than traditional methods.
For a business, it will become clear that relationships with suppliers, employees and all distribution channels can be improved and solidified via the Web and Internet.
Geographic barriers that faced us five years ago are removed with these emerging technologies. It also costs much less to move data from your home office to your employees or business partners over a Website than by distributing paper.
The first step a company should take in deciding on a Website is to examine exactly what it is they want to accomplish. Is it selling more products? Improving internal company communications? Solidifying relationships with business partners? There are better solutions available then just putting up an online “brochure.”
CPM recently started electronically marketing the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Peoria Civic Center. How do these clients illustrate how electronic marketing will enhance their visibility and their interaction with their customers?
We recently started electronically marketing the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Peoria Civic Center.
The Conventions and Visitors Bureau and the Civic Center are using dynamic Web pages to keep browsers instantly updated on event dates and times.
Our clients can change their Web sites based on user input, wants and needs. We are currently seeking patents on these and other technologies.
We have provided different services for each of these organizations, but in a nutshell, we have helped them get their arms around their internal information in order to make better business and marketing decisions.
We have developed Website database solutions for the Civic Center and the PACVB that gives them the ability to manage and control the information that is delivered to the Web visitor.
We developed the OSF Saint Joseph Medical Center Website and are working with OSF Saint Francis Medical Center on theirs.
Graduates of the class of 2000 will have been exposed in one year to more information than their grandparents were exposed to in a lifetime. That is due mostly to the technology “explosion” and the Internet. In your opinion, what, if any, are some of the potential problems of “information overload?”
In many ways, the technologies we are working with today are designed to eliminate the problems of information overload.
We do this by trying to predict what information a person really needs and wants to see. We then deliver the desired information to the individual through intelligent software programs.
What are the challenges CPM faces in developing solutions for a customer’s Intranet/Extranet, Network, and Internet Connectivity needs? Do you encourage a needs analysis as a starting point?
A needs analysis is crucial as a starting point for developing these solutions. We have not seen one business exactly like another one, so the solution always needs to be customized.
A challenge we often face is trying to develop a new solution around a customer’s existing computer systems and data sources, especially with the emerging technologies we work with.
Intranets are a combination of LAN, WAN, and Internet technologies. They are so valuable that at least two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies use them to connect and communicate constantly with their business partners and employees via e-mail.
The Intranet/Internet combination is critical for today’s businesses because it streamlines employee collaboration and cooperation.
IBM learned a long time ago with its PROFFs system, by which it could communicate instantly and globally with all employees. I believe that was one of the keys that allowed IBM to become a corporate giant.
Beyond basic communications, Intranets enhance time management by allowing team members access to each other’s calendars and other organizational information.
People with skills in emerging technologies are in high demand. Is the shortage of skilled technicians real or perceived?
I believe there is a shortage of truly skilled technicians, but there always has been. I’m sure this is true not only for our software engineers and mathematicians, but also for the skilled professionals. Within the last month, I have seen more resumes indicating a softening of the market.
What do you see as the future of the technology CPM is using and developing?
I see a great future for our technologies. With the increased amounts of information available today, the need to store and deliver it for both personal and business uses will do nothing but increase.
As with all raw technologies, these technologies will need to be converted to commercial solutions and be integrated into our business processes and way of life.
CPM is currently working on new products that will further enhance its market position in technology-enabled relationship marketing. In addition, we are working on a new decision support project called DSS Workbench™. With DSS Workbench™ businesses can have access to their corporate data warehouse from anywhere in the workplace or the world, via the Internet. This will empower decision makers and help them run companies.
With attention brought to the e-mails that Monica Lewinsky thought were deleted, how can individuals and companies protect themselves from their e-mail messages getting into the “wrong” hands? What ethical concerns do you see developing as a result of these emerging technologies?
The speed and level of personal services and attention that people have come to expect from business in today’s world is achieved only by the delivery of electronic information.
These technologies were being developed long before the Internet came into play. I think that most of the buzz regarding privacy on the Internet is due to misinformation and a misunderstanding of the way the technology works.
In fact, recently eight major online rival businesses formed a partnership to begin educating consumers on steps they need to take to protect their privacy online.
You sold a portion of your business to IBM in the summer of 1996. Is that your greatest business accomplishment thus far?
It was my largest financial accomplishment. Taking an idea, building and operating a small business in a highly competitive environment is a much larger success. Founding, growing and running a business is very difficult and requires a lot of belief in yourself and those around you.
Where do you find inspiration for your success and what are your future plans for the company? Can you share some of your keys for success?
There are many things that have contributed to our success. First, we do not get caught up in the way things are. We start with a clean plate and look at the way things could or should be.
Many people look at the way things are and say they can’t change, therefore, they don’t try. We don’t create artificial limits.
CPM has many hard working and intelligent individuals who want to make a difference and want to change things for the better.
We are very aware of the industries we work in and know their problems. We strive to bring new technologies and ideas that have worked in other industries. Being a small organization allows us to rapidly build technologies that are commercially impossible for large organizations.
We are currently working on new products that will further enhance our market position in technology-enabled relationship marketing.
We are also refining Internet technologies. In fact, we are pursuing patents on some of them to enhance the role of this communication channel in the communications mix.
In general, the nature of business is rapidly evolving. As we continue to mature, I definitely see more offices that will allow us to be closer to our customers. Also with the Internet, it will be easier for us to use virtual employees located in many parts of the world.
In fact, one of our software engineers is moving to India to teach physics near the Himalayas. He will continue to work part-time for us over the Internet.
When you are not traveling around the world or between East Peoria and Madison, how do you spend your free time?
I have been near water my entire life, and it seems everything I do involved water. I enjoy boating, scuba diving, swimming, and deep sea fishing. In the winter, when I can’t enjoy the water in its liquid state, I ski and snowmobile. Occasionally, I spend time horseback riding.
How do you “give back” to the community that has been your lifelong home?
There are a couple of things we try to do. Since we work in the marketing industry, we make an effort to be part of organizations such as the local chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) and Ad Club.
Our employees serve as officers and make other contributions. I have worked my way through AMA and have been president of the local chapter.
I also speak throughout the U.S. and internationally on marketing, and many times do this at company expense. There are many small AMA chapters that cannot afford speakers, so we help them out.
CPM also has established scholarships in the area of marketing and created competition for marketing students. These students will define the future in the industry that has provided for CPM and its employees. IBI