Today’s post is by Stu Heinecke, the best-selling author of How to Get a Meeting with Anyone and host of Contact Marketing Radio. He is also the co-creator of NASP’s “The Power of Contact Marketing” training program, a Wall Street Journal cartoonist, hall of fame-nominated marketer, and founder of Contact, a first-of-its-kind contact marketing agency dedicated to helping sales teams connect with their most important prospects and assigned accounts.
Personalization grabs attention and can be very useful when your mission is to make contact with an account or prospect.
I used the cartoon above recently to connect with T. Boone Pickens, to interview him for my next book. I’m proud of the drawing, of course, but it’s obviously the personalization that made the connection happen.
Personalization can be a powerful tool, but it can also backfire terribly if not used correctly. When I first started using it in direct response letters, the challenge was to make it read naturally, as though it had been written to a friend.
Of course, it was always obvious it was not from a friend, but from someone the recipient did not know. So it was always important to be restrained when using someone’s personal details. If the data set included more than a name and address, you risked alarming the recipient with something that read more like an invasion of privacy than a simple offer to save money on a magazine subscription.
My, how things have changed.
Today, we leave digital fingerprints everywhere we go on the Web – and there is a staggering amount of personal information on display on social media. We share our life’s events, our thoughts, our children, and travel. Our headshots are front and center.
Naturally, personalization has evolved, too.
Charlie Liang, director of marketing for San Francisco-based Engagio, recently launched a contact campaign using custom bobblehead dolls based on recipients’ LinkedIn profile pictures. The campaign produced a 22 percent response rate, two deals, and a lot of excited responses – including a thank-you video that generated more than 23,000 views.
Another marketer examined the Facebook profiles of a handful of influencers and assembled individual gifts based on personal interests found there. To one, he sent a carton of plastic eggs and chicks, highlighting the recipient’s interest in raising backyard chickens. To another, he sent a custom-embroidered Superwoman cape.
The question is: Is this going too far – actually getting to know something about someone before you reach out with a thoughtful gift?
Maybe not. Not too long ago, I would have criticized this form of personalization for its lack of scalability. After all, you can send millions of my cartoons through the mail or email – each seamlessly personalized with the names of each recipient.
But hasn’t the idea been about making one-to-one, personal connections all along?
How do you see it? Has personalization gone too far? Do you have a story about your own experience with personalization? Share your comments below.