A few years ago some technology came about that allowed marketers to personalize their mailings to you.
All of a sudden we were all deluged with mailings with our name in them. Maybe your name was written in roses, part of a pretty photo of a flowerbed. Or your company name appeared in fluffy white clouds as part of a beautiful landscape.
The marketing, printing, transpromo, and direct mail industries all jumped for joy. Companies could create a personalized message to each of their customers and produce more engaging and relevant content.
Except for the fact that, as consumers, we all got very bored very quickly.
Was it because of the cheesy ideas, expressed with even cheesier images? Well, partly. But I think that its because marketers – and therefore companies, by inference – don’t know the difference between personalization and individualization. Consumers no longer get excited about seeing a mailing with their name on it. They want you to know them as people, not as a name.
Why? Because they’ve come to expect it. For example, when I log into Amazon I’m not impressed that I can see my name on the homepage. I’m impressed that I can see a list of everything that I’ve bought, everything that I’ve browsed, and can view a list of Amazon-recommended items that I might like to purchase based upon purchases from other people who’ve bought similar items. I have bought a lot of stuff on Amazon because of this, and I bet that you have too.
You see? It’s not about having my name on a piece of paper. It’s about the communication being relevant to me and only me. Knowing my name, where I work and what I do is no longer enough. I want you to know me.
I want individualization, not personalization.