Personalize your marketing approach

Published October 16, 2015 in the Sacramento Business Journal

Personalization is not only what’s “next” in marketing, it’s what’s “now.” Today’s consumers have been rightfully characterized as somewhat cynical and distrusting of old-school marketing tactics. Marketers have shouted, screamed and yelled their messages at them for decades. Consumers now don’t want the hard sell. In fact, they don’t want to be “sold” at all.

They want to buy. They not only want to buy, they want to connect. For years, consumers wanted to communicate with the companies from which they purchased goods or services — but there was no way to be noticed. Today, with the integration of technology and social media, everything has changed.

And when things change, so too must an organization’s approach to marketing. Businesses not only need to reach their target audiences, they need to connect with them. They need to engage them. They need to garner attention by being creative.

This can be difficult for any company, especially a large one. However, here are two examples of companies who got creative and got it right.

First, Coca-Cola launched a personalized campaign by encouraging its customers to “Share a Coke,” using bottles and cans that featured individual names and endearing terms such as “family” and “friends.” According to The Wall Street Journal, the campaign gave the soda brand its first boost in sales in more than a decade. With that kind of success, other major brands began to take notice.

Soon after, candy bar maker Mars launched a similar personalized packaging promotion by replacing its Snickers brand logo with words such as “rebellious,” “spacey,” “loopy,” “grouchy,” “sleepy,” “snippy,” “impatient” (I could probably use one of those), “whiny,” “feisty” and more. The personalized wrappers were part of its “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign.


I was in St. Louis on business when, for the first time in more than 10 years, I took notice of the candy bars at the checkout. I don’t even eat candy bars, and I almost bought one just because I found it so entertaining.

Tweet: Why your business should have a personalized marketing approach from @MerlotMarketing @DebiHammond: #MarketingBlog

Both Coke and Snickers garnered a tremendous amount of press coverage with these campaigns and reconnected with their audiences by making their brands more personal.

As you review your marketing program from the previous year and begin planning for the year ahead, think about what you can do to better connect with your target audience. This may sound trite, but how about answering your phone — in person. Voicemail does not count.

When sending an email, address the recipient by name. Try customizing your creative materials and campaigns to speak to your specific “ornery,” irritable” or “forgetful” audience. And when it comes to social media, don’t automate, but rather connect and engage in real time to show customers you care.

I was at an event recently and tasted some great wines. I placed an order (as did dozens of other people) and when I received my wine, it came with not just a personal letter from the owners, but a handwritten note, too — addressed to me. You don’t need to be a huge company and go as far as replacing your logo with your campaign messaging, but in an age of impersonal and digital overload, your customers will appreciate a little personal effort.

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