Or is the term "personalisation" inherently alien to anything related to concept of a real relationship? Not necessarily, as researched and argued by Forrester Research, because people experience the gradual erosion of human-to-human social channels - e.g. team sport, unions, public associations - which hitherto have provided meaningfulness. Instead, customers turn to brands to find hope for the future.
Personalization entails treating each customer as the unique human he or she is by providing relevant, personalized content to consumers over time. Note, it is not tantamount to more marketing, it means the right marketing where your dialogue and value exchange with the customer is enlightening, emotional, educational and meaningful.
Friendships at scale?
And digital makes "personalisation at scale" convenient and practical. If Big Data allows you to talk to a customer one-to-one as if he was an close friend, there is no need for marketing, right? You just say what you what you need to say. No reason to lure your friends through sophisticated verbiage, visuals, story telling or other old marketing tricks. Tell him how it is! Tell him about your products? After all, you know what he really needs?
A return to product marketing?
However, the power of left-brain marketing to specifically target a given segment is no excuse to return to the days of product marketing. Customers still don’t care about products attributes or features per se, no matter how proficiently they are targeted. Customers care about what the products or features mean to them and more importantly if the customer feels the relationship to the brand is mutually rewarding.
And products and features have no a priori meaning and need to be interpreted by the customer and through the help of better marketing in order to assume a meaning. A positive meaning is a prerequisite, but not sufficient, for a customer to buy in a competitive market.
Simple but often forgotten truth about marketing
This is hardly news to most people who work with marketing, but the simple truths are also the ones most forgotten. So let us remind ourselves of a cornerstone of human psychology. As underlined by a number of marketing gurus, emotional stimulation has the biggest and most last lasting influence on the mind and behavior of an individual. And yes, customers use rational reasons to confirm emotional choices. However, to be efficient marketers, we need to touch the customer emotionally and ultimately form real relationships.
How is a meaningful relationship created?
A brand needs to earn the relationship with a given customer. And the fundamentals of relationship building? One-with-one talk; listening, not speaking; living the values together; ironing out the initial skepticism, fueling eager expectations; cementing the longevity by incessantly mutually committing and showing shared long term interests. When you succeed in living by these fundamentals, you earn Share of Life™.