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The Power of Personalization (within limits)

Is there anything more pleasant to one’s ear than to hear their own name? That’s why for years marketers have worked hard to integrate technology into their communication to make the consumer conversation more relevant.

At the most basic level, we want to feel like we are talking directly to the person. And they are listening to us. A true one-to-one dialogue.

How Much Personalization is Too Much?

With the growth of so much data warehousing and a seemingly endless source of “personal” information, the possibilities to customize messaging are many. But just because we can, should we?

According to Psychology Today (5/5/2021), surveys show that many consumers have reservations about targeted advertising that actually cause them to avoid such ads and resist their influence. Their review is published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

The research shows that personalized marketing may be effective, but can also backfire if not done correctly.

According to the study, the following issues were identified as causing consumer concerns.

1. Invasion of privacy. The most obvious way things backfire is when consumers believe marketers acquired or are using personal data they thought was or should be private.

2. Attempt at manipulation. It can backfire if consumers believe marketers are attempting to control or manipulate them in some way.

3. Unfair or stereotypic judgment. Rejection occurs when consumers view an ad as targeting them based on an unfair or stereotypic judgment about them, such as about their gender identity, age, race, or weight. Invasiveness, manipulation, and stereotyping should be avoided for obvious ethical reasons.

4. Already known content. This can make consumers tune out the message by signaling that they already know what marketers want to tell them (e.g., targeting superfans of a musician with well-publicized information about the musician’s upcoming album).

5. Weak arguments. Sometimes we believe that the consumer is interested in a product or topic and that is enough for them to engage. It backfires when the ad or message makes an unconvincing case to an interested user. This can probably be blamed on poor creative.

The key is to stay in your lane with respect to your product and its benefits. Respect the recipient and their desire for relevant, appropriate and helpful messaging. Use data that you are confident about.

Avoid politics, religion, and social topics as they can create a wedge between you and your customer.

Personalization Can Be Fun Too!

Don’t be afraid to have some fun and be playful too. Sometimes just knowing someone’s name is enough to solicit a smile.

Below are some examples of a campaign we are launching in conjunction with our trade show presence in Nashville at the MAC Conference this week. With our access to the attendee list, we were able to pre-print some great personalized concert poster souvenirs for each attendee.

And for those whose names we didn’t have, we created some “tongue in cheek” names to pick from.

Maybe one of these will end up in a real Nashville act!