CLIENT OF THE WEEK: Mills & Boon’s ardent admirer - Alan Dawson is so keen on Mills & Boon that he reads it himself, Emma Hall says

Imagine a Mills & Boon induction fortnight. Two weeks in soft focus, swanning around a country mansion, surrounded by fragrant flowers and practising the delicate art of wooing the opposite sex?

Imagine a Mills & Boon induction fortnight. Two weeks in soft

focus, swanning around a country mansion, surrounded by fragrant flowers

and practising the delicate art of wooing the opposite sex?



No. The reality was following sales teams around for days and attending

conferences about the company’s plans for 1998. ’I was exhausted at the

end of it,’ admits Alan Dawson, the sales and marketing director of

Mills & Boon.



Not that the job is all sales charts and profit projections. Dawson

joined the company five months ago and has been delighted by the

enthusiasm of those around him, as well as being motivated by the need

to keep the content up to date and relevant to its audience.



The appointment of Mills & Boon’s first advertising agency, Davies

Little Cowley (Campaign, last week), is another sign that things are

changing.



’We have to persuade people that reading a Mills & Boon is as enjoyable

as watching EastEnders or renting a video,’ Dawson says.



Dawson has been immersing himself in the product, reading peacefully at

his home in Walton-on-Thames. ’I have always tried to find villages,’ he

says, ’The neighbours are friendly and stop for a chat - it is a great

place to recharge your batteries.’



When he’s not reading romantic fiction, Dawson loves to sit back with a

glass of wine, listening to CDs and reading science fiction or science

fantasy. ’It’s just me,’ he adds, ’I like to concentrate on my career

and relax on my own.’



Dawson was born in Edinburgh, but moved to London to study

administration and economics in the early 70s. Since then, he has

remained in the South of England, moving from a sales background into a

marketing position through companies such as Stanbrook Publishing,

Gillette, Max Factor (bought by Procter & Gamble while he was there) and

Yardley.



With 56 new Mills & Boon titles a month, all this fmcg experience comes

in handy. Dawson says: ’We have to do a lot of research because

consumers’ needs are changing constantly. But romantic fiction will

never go out of style.’



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