Who: Allen Berger
Old Jobs: Marketing and sales at Cirrus Healthcare Products, E&J Gallo Winery, Mars Inc., and Nestle USA Inc.
New Jobs: Senior VP and general manager at Freeagent.com; chief marketing officer at Opus360
In the world of marketing, it's not so much what you sell but how you sell it. That logic has landed Allen Berger, 57 — a former marketing executive who has worked with companies that sell everything from M&Ms to lice shampoo — at Freeagent.com, a Web resource for e-lancers. (The site is part of Opus360, a business-to-business Internet-solutions company.)
Old skills that still matter
"I need to figure out how to make consumers think of us in ways that encourage them to take action. Advertising in the Internet business is a lot like advertising in the automobile industry. Car manufacturers aren't really using ads to sell you a car; they're trying to get you to visit their showroom. That's my job: to get people to come and look at us."
"Everybody says that doing business on the Internet is a fast process, but until you're actually doing it, you don't appreciate the pace. This is an intense business. During my first meetings, I was lucky if I understood even 25% of the jargon. Now I understand maybe 70% of it."
"Sure, technology is important on the Web. But most Net companies have pretty comparable technologies. There may be a few real advantages — for example, Amazon's one-click technology — but most competitors can do whatever their rivals can do. That's why, over the long term, the real differentiator among Internet companies is going to be how they market themselves."
A version of this article appeared in the June 2000 issue of Fast Company magazine.