Pegg Nadler loves the unknown. Where others see challenges, she sees opportunities. Where others fear change, she fears boredom.
These are some of the qualities that have driven her 30-year direct marketing career, the bulk of which she’s spent advancing database marketing operations at commercial and nonprofit organizations and giving back to the direct marketing community. And they’re why she’s Target Marketing magazine’s Direct Marketer of the Year.
Speaking over the telephone on a recent Friday evening from her New York office, the vice president of database marketing for magazine publishing empire Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. (HFMUS) quotes a saying from Hungarian Nobel laureate Albert von Szent-Györgyi Nagyrapolt that has verbally captured her world view since she studied English and art history at the University at Albany, State University of New York: “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.”
“My approach to problem solving has actually always been the same,” Nadler says. “And it’s interesting how some people will find this a good approach and others will find that it could be maddening. It has always been very important for me to see the total scope of business in order to come to a decision. And this is probably one of the reasons why I love database marketing—because it really provides that wide picture.”
Falling Into Love
Nadler began fusing her left and right hemispheres early.
The English and art history major entered direct marketing in 1979 by selling art and gift books for Harry N. Abrams.
“I fell into direct marketing,” Nadler says. “When I came to New York in the late ’70s, I landed a job at Harry Abrams … and I was first their advertising manager and then moved into an area called special sales, which was selling books into areas other than bookstores. And … really it was direct marketing: catalogs, book clubs, continuity programs. That was my first exposure into direct marketing. And I thought that it was a little bit wacky, but that it was much more fun than selling books into bookstores. And it was something that I then stayed with for the rest of my life.”
From 1979 to 1990, her direct marketing career progressed from moving art books to selling facsimile editions of ancient manuscripts from the Vatican Library, then to hawking furs in a mostly pre-Internet, fully mid-animal rights movement era. “So being able to sell through the mail and through the phone became very important,” Nadler says of her 1988 to 1990 stint with Jindo Furs. Creatively working her way around the protester problem, she set up an 800 number for customers to call; secured accounts with the Home Shopping Network, Comp-U-Card, American Express and Diners Club; and mailed catalogs. Catering to the jet set, Jindo placed computer terminals at kiosks in airport waiting areas so passengers could click to buy minks before boarding.
But her first taste of database marketing, in 1990 at Metromail Corp. (now Experian), pulled her in to the direct marketing specialty. Within 18 months, she’d secured billings nearing $1 million for the marketing information, database and mail production company.
“I’ve certainly always been very systematic,” Nadler says. “My attraction to English was that I think that speaking very clearly and getting your message across is an imperative. And probably what has attracted me to database marketing is that I’ve always … organized … I like to get projects done. And it probably is a very neat way of wrapping up the world.”
The Problem Solver
Speaking of the global picture, Nadler’s strengths include all aspects of database marketing—with the exception of in-depth statistical modeling, the implementation of which she supervises. So when she accepts a new challenge, which is usually “directing startup operations, restructuring business operations and overhauling marketing departments,” she is either in charge of or overseeing every aspect of the solution.