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PROFILE: Marc Tonnon - Marketer, BT

B2B marketing has always created champions and experts in niche and highly specialised products or services. Business marketers are far more likely to become attached to a particular industry or community, and remain with it over long periods, moving up through company ranks or swapping to rival suppliers. This is in contrast to consumer marketing – particularly the FMCG sector, where practitioners can appear to switch between the likes of confectionery, yellow fats and frozen food at the drop of a hat.

Quite why individual B2B marketers become so attached to their area of interest is unclear; it is likely to be due to a variety of personal, professional and structural reasons. But the advantages for the employers of such individuals with their indepth knowledge are readily apparent. The only potential problem occurs when there is no such expert available to fill a role.

Fortunately for BT, when looking to reinvent its telephone directory product in 2002, just such a figure was available in the form of Marc Tonnon. Belgian-born Tonnon has spent 25 years in the directory industry across Europe and North America, making him the ideal person to take the project forwards. From his perspective, the appeal of the proposition was obvious: “BT aims to become the number one supplier of directory services in the UK,” he explains, which is no mean feat given BT's current position. The market for paper directories is currently dominated by Yellow Pages and Thomson, who have a combined 90 per cent share. BT Phone Book, by contrast, has only a six or seven per cent share. A big challenge for BT then, for which it required one of the biggest experts in the field.