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The Myth of 1:1 Marketing

How do marketers become of value to individual members of their audience? We talk about one to one marketing, and the benefit of going beyond mass messages to build meaningful engagement with customers.

Editor’s Note: Fresh Squeezed Ideas created a video series, The Future of Marketing and How to Win, to not only share ideas on where the future of marketing is headed, but to also provoke some new ways of thinking about brand strategy and marketing.

By Fresh Squeezed Ideas

How do marketers become of value to individual members of their audience? We talk about one to one marketing, and the benefit of going beyond mass messages to build meaningful engagement with customers.

There’s an old saying: “Half the ad budget is wasted, but we don’t know which half.” Of course, that’s not as true anymore as it once was. Now, marketing has technology that’s very powerful at understanding what is resonating with customers, and being able to calculate an ROI.

Take the stance of Lee Clow, who coined the term “marketing arts” as an alternative to the word “advertising”. What’s the difference between advertising and marketing arts? Well, advertising really speaks to sticking a branded message in the faces of passive viewers over and over and over again, until they can’t help but recall the brand and the message, the icons, the jingle, and so on.

The modern equivalent of this is “preroll” and display ads that are showing up in our social newsfeeds and before videos we want to watch. It really begs the question about marketing arts. Marketing arts is really about something much more. It’s about engagement. It’s about experience. It’s about creating something of value to the viewer. So, if this digital era really allows marketers to break free of the 30 second spot, and create an endless array of possible creative engagements, why not take advantage of it? Why are we still bombarded with display ads for stuff we probably don’t care about?

The problem is the scale of executing on the one to one marketing proposition is actually beyond imagination—and scatter-shot preroll is not the solution. So, how do marketers become of value to individual members of the audience? This is a critical question, and you need to start by understanding two things. Number one, products and services plays a very important role in consumers’ lives. And secondly, marketers have an important role therefore to play in the consumers’ lives. You see, if everything that we purchase creates meaning in our lives, then marketers have a very serious responsibility. They’re involved in our lives. So, it’s important to marketers to truly understand us as consumers, and set themselves against the task of enriching our lives with greater meaning.

This leads to the question of: how do you build meaningful engagement with customers through personalized marketing? The key idea is that narratives attract customers. They choose to engage on a one to one basis. And so, the B2C branch should take a page out of the B2B marketing handbook. Content is king. Crafting a narrative that attracts your target customer, rather than trying to throw yourself in front of them online is really the key to success.

The best example of a narrative that attracts customers, rather than trying to intercept them, is from KLM, the Dutch airline. Now, if you leave something on an airplane, you’ve probably had the experience that airline crew, or the airport staff can be indifferent to your specific problem. They’ve got a lot going on. KLM has introduced a sniffer dog so that, when someone leaves something light on the airplane, the flight attendant will let the dog smell the item, slip it into it’s backpack, and it will run off through the airport all the way through to baggage, until it finds the person who owns the item. What a wonderful way to have your lost items returned to you, by this cute little puppy.

It’s attractive because it is an entertaining story and created value for the consumer. For an industry that doesn’t have the best reputation for caring for customers, that’s a pretty awesome way of changing a narrative, and of course it’s very sharable content.

So, that leads to of course, the question of how do you build such a great narrative? Well, it’s very simple. It comes down to deeply understanding both your customers and how they use or how they struggle with your category, regardless of whether the product or service. This can be very complex, but with the right guidance, anyone can navigate this. The real skill is identifying the new narratives that resolve tensions or align to their values, such that customers feel connected. They feel joy. It invokes pride or it inspires them to explore, or have social impact. Once you do all that, you will have come a long way to defining a purpose for your business that will attract individuals to your brand message, rather than jamming them, a less relevant message at a time.

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