PROFILE

Phil Rubin

CEO, rDialogue

Phil is CEO of rDialogue, an Atlanta-based customer marketing firm with clients ranging from mid-market to Fortune 100 and in industries including retail, travel and hospitality, telecommunications, dining, financial services and pharmaceuticals. Representative clients include Caribou Coffee, Cracker Barrel, Kimpton Hotels and Sprint, as well as a number of clients that can’t be named like a world famous customer-centric department store.

He has nearly 20 years of strategic marketing experience with an emphasis on customer loyalty and relationship marketing, integrated communications, partnership development, promotions and program development. He founded the loyalty practice at Loyaltyworks and led the spin-off of the practice to rDialogue. Prior to Loyaltyworks he was Group Vice President and General Manager of The Lacek Group, a loyalty marketing firm now part of OgilvyOne. While at Lacek he established the Atlanta office and was responsible for leading the development and implementation of relationship marketing strategies on behalf of clients such as Delta Air Lines, Cox Communications and UPS.

Phil has developed and managed loyalty and relationship marketing as a client both at Midway Airlines and at GTE Wireless (now Verizon). He began his career going through Macy’s Executive Training Program and working in store management.

Phil has an M.B.A. with a concentration in Marketing and Strategy from Tulane University and a B.S. in finance from L.S.U.

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  • Posted on: 07/20/2016

    Is Amazon.com retail’s 800-pound gorilla or a crafty coyote?

    Thanks for your comments Doug. My point about Nordstrom was less about eCommerce and more about how, across ALL channels but stores especially, it has failed to keep up with the customer promise that its brand and business was founded on. Macy's too, for that matter (my first job after undergrad was going through their Executive Training Program and then working in store management).Nordstrom had the chance to do so after launching Fashion Rewards in 2007 (we helped there) but never was able to commit to relationship marketing, ironically because that was "owned" internally by the direct division, which includes eCommerce!I agree with you completely about the eCommerce channel, which is why retailers that are also or more store-based need to create a better experience for customers. Amazon has done that better than anyone in digital channels and it results in far fewer reasons to visit a Nordstrom door. One eCommerce strategy worth considering, especially for mono brand retailers, is to sell through rather than against AMZN. At least a mono brand retailer has the margins to do so.Last weekend I visited a Pirch store for the first time and it blew me away. Far and away the most exciting retail store experience that I've seen in a long time and one that will be reasonably well insulated from AMZN!
  • Posted on: 07/20/2016

    Is Amazon.com retail’s 800-pound gorilla or a crafty coyote?

    Whether Amazon is an 800-pound gorilla or a crafty coyote is one way to think about it but the reality is that its both, neither and a whole lot more. People and companies, retailers especially, have long underestimated Amazon and those that continue to do so will find growth a significant challenge. Just look at Nordstrom.Most retailers, unless they have an exceptional customer experience that extends to the physical world (i.e., stores and other tangible points of distribution that are not purely digital) are going to lose to Amazon eventually. How many retailers do we know that are that good? Sadly, it's a short list.The gap in what Amazon is capable of -- its reach, its ability to integrate a variety of offerings and most importantly, the wrapper of all this in a "customer-obsessed" culture that has been a driving force in its business for more than 20 years -- and most retailers mean they must aggressively innovate or die.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2016

    Pokémon Go showcases potential of augmented reality in retail

    More than anything,the popularity of Pokemon Go underscores that to succeed in the future you need to understand context and relevance not to a "mass" of customers, but to specific segments. There are clearly way too many brands and retailers that still see the world through a mass marketing lens and thus fail to be relevant to many customers and prospects.Some great comments here both supporting this thinking and also underscoring why there will be more failures in retail. Our quick take from last week is here.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2016

    Amazon declares victory – Prime Day II concludes

    There are really two factors in Prime Day's success and they go hand-in-hand in terms of creating the virtuous circle for Amazon that is increasingly the death knell for other retailers.The first factor is clearly Prime memberships and given the continued growth in both memberships and revenues (including Prime Day sales) AMZN has more runway here. Again, bad news for most retailers that compete with Amazon, now or in the future.The second factor has to be sales for the day. Remember, every one of those sales is likely drawing at least some share away from the rest of the industry and not necessarily diluting Amazon's business.Regardless, Amazon continues its dominance and the value of being "customer obsessed" for two decades.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2016

    Walmart counters Prime Day with free shipping, no minimum required

    Amazon ranks at the top of competitors not just for Walmart but for most retailers. Or at least it should. Cheap stuff and free shipping at Walmart is still not going to compare to the consistently great customer experience at Amazon. And the Amazon experience -- with Prime shipping, including same-day delivery in some markets -- blows away walking into any Walmart door.
  • Posted on: 06/27/2016

    Amazon Dash gets a smart button rival

    While buttons might work for some, if the trend on wearables (declining sharply) extends to in-home automation like buttons, this might be a challenge. That said, there is certainly room for one or maybe a few "buttons" for those consumers with such a preference. The challenge for Kwik is acceptance with merchant partners but if they can do that they can certainly carve out a niche away from Amazon, at the least (e.g., with Domino's and other brands that don't distribute via Amazon ... at least yet!).
  • Posted on: 06/22/2016

    Will luxury shoppers buy electric cars at Nordstrom?

    If you've ever been in a Tesla retail store you see the value in this partnership, especially for Tesla and especially at The Grove. This is a smart strategy for Nordstrom too. Nordstrom has struggled to regain its relevancy and it has become like so many other retailers (i.e., on sale, promotional and lacking a distinct merchandise strategy) so having a Tesla shop within the store makes a visit to Nordstrom more interesting and exposes people who might not otherwise visit a Tesla store to the vehicles.My wife, who is absolutely not a car person, was actually fawning over Tesla when we visited their store at Westchester Mall. They do retail very well, among other things. This is good for them and for JWN.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2016

    Should sales guide pricing decisions?

    In general you can't achieve sustainable growth without ultimately growing margins AND flow through. What's interesting about Mark's article is that Mr. Dillon had a very clear and disciplined pricing strategy. Retailers today, unlike the airlines for example, have very little pricing discipline other than being promotional. That has long been proven as something that reduces profits. As simple as that sounds, retail as an industry has increasingly become a one-dimensional battle, to its own self destruction.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2016

    Amazon Prime’s retention rates are just sick

    Amazon has changed and continues to change the game for many industries, not just retail. Their Prime retention rates are indicative of this and the value they deliver to their customers, suppliers and other partners. People have been underestimating Amazon and Mr. Bezos for years and all you have to do is look at their stock price compared to the S&P 500 over the past five years and see the results. Cynics still abound and those that miscalculate here will lose. Look at Pete Nordstrom's comments a few weeks ago for the most recent mic drop. See more of my take here.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2016

    Why Apple must move beyond the ‘wow’ moment

    Professor Fader is spot on in terms of how Starbucks has used its data -- yielded from Starbucks Rewards -- to be able to deliver a better customer experience. It's not the loyalty program -- it's the data, and there is more and more evidence that this is the case.He's also right that Apple needs to start re-orienting itself to include customers as part of its business strategy. This is an ENORMOUS opportunity for Apple, who has long delivered great products built around its own eco-system but has consistently failed to recognize customers for their ownership (of said great products) and value.That said, other than Best Buy and Amazon no one in the consumer electronics world, or the tech world in general, has done much in the way of leveraging customer insights to improve the customer experience, but at some point soon this has to happen. When it does, it will drive even more brand loyalty.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2016

    Is the paper receipt dying?

    For many retailers, this is a great vehicle for creating better customer addressability and ensuring there is a clear digital record of a transaction. For the customers, it does the latter and allows them to more easily save their receipts. Win-win. And for the planet, what do we do with most of our receipts other than (hopefully) recycle them?Interesting as always how some brands (e.g., Apple, Anthropologie, Nike, Nordstrom) have done this for a while and yet the majority of the industry is just now adopting this.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2016

    Nordstrom expands rewards to non-card holders

    Having worked with Nordstrom on Fashion Rewards (launched in 2007), it was always clear that an omni-tender approach to loyalty was ultimately required. It took a while, but what they launched was clearly expected given the changes made in 2014, which set the stage for a lower non-tender tier.Nordstrom's loyalty marketing challenges going forward, beyond the ones they spoke about May 12th when they announced earnings, will be twofold (see my take on this here):1. Challenge #1: Managing their increasingly promotional orientation — remember they went from semi-annual sales to seven promotional periods last year — and balancing that with the incremental costs of this loyalty offering. This might make them competitive with other (overly) promotional retailers, but it's well documented that unless you're an off-price retailer it's really hard to grow profits in the long term with a promotional strategy.2. Improving the level of integration between the Rewards program and their relationship marketing and customer experience. The former has long been a challenge due to silos between full line stores and direct/e-commerce.Overall, there is clearly a trend toward speciality retailers and department stores broadening their programs across tender and it's one we have always embraced. Yet at this point it's basically table-stakes and the future competitive frontier is integrating loyalty marketing into the broader customer experience. That's the point of collecting all the data but retailers especially fail to translate them into customer-beneficial delivery of the value proposition beyond the $-off rewards.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2016

    Will Amazon.com become the king of private label?

    It's pretty clear that there's risk in betting against Amazon and given their loyal customer base -- starting with Prime members -- they have a built-in advantage, even with private label. There are numerous ways they can add value to what they are creating and do so in a profitable and mutually beneficial way.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2016

    Study: E-commerce is eroding retail profitability

    E-commerce and omnichannel are not options for most retailers but rather they are forcing investments that retailers have to make in order to catch up with other categories. The incremental value of a multi-channel vs. a single-channel customer supports the investment strategy but it's myopic to only look at the retailer itself. The elephant in the industry is Amazon and obviously they dominate e-commerce and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

    Beyond Amazon and the need to invest, retailers have lost discipline in terms of pricing, merchandising and promotion at the expense of brand and customer-relationship building.

    While overall retail profitability is on the decline, if you break out those who have invested in a customer-centric strategy — like Amazon, Sephora and Starbucks for example — they significantly outperform the rest of the industry.

  • Posted on: 04/30/2016

    Amazon crushes it

    Amazon continues to set a standard for retail. Period. Focus on the customer, make their world better through knowing them and making it easier for them to buy and receive their purchases, whether analog or digital. And repeat.

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