The Science of Personalization: A Voice, Not an Echo

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With the advent of pop psychology, authors such as Vance Packard and Wilson Bryan Keymade people realize that there is plenty of stuff going on beneath the surface in advertising and marketing. Whenever big bucks are involved, you can be sure that science, in one form or another, will be brought to bear.

And, if you build it—so to speak—they will come. Experts on everything, by dint of self-appointed titles and use of the language of bureaucracy, continue to try to make communication—the online conversation between a business and consumers—into a programmable formula. They seek to quantify everything.

There's one little problem, though: Humans are...individuals. No two of them will respond exactly alike. More than that, the "best" search results may not always be within the first five. Put another way, people are not lab rats that navigate a virtual maze of keywords about discounts, coupons, and promotions. People react far better to the ancient art of storytelling.

I'm referring to stories about your product or service. Become the narrator of your own brand, the ambassador who represents the ideals you cherish and the goals you intend to achieve. Going a bit further with this, to win the proverbial hearts and minds of consumers, to attract—and maintain—their attention you have to avoid formulas (and formulaic writing). Personalize what you say—and to whom you say it.

Let's hear from Mike Catania of Keycode.com—known as the Internet's leading offer comparison site. If a retailer has an offer available, chances are you will find it on Keycode.com...

"Personalization is the natural dialogue between people, and between successful brands and consumers. If you do not customize your message, or if you outsource the expression of your principles to inexperienced staff, you forfeit the very credibility you want to earn."

"Too many companies run ineffective promo codes, or they circulate coupons like an inflated currency, because little or no thought goes into treating consumers like specific men and women with identifiable interests and concerns. That approach must change."

I'm sure anyone with an e-mail account will attest to the lack of personalization on what ends up being spam. It is this lack of professionalism—and this dearth of professional writing—that is an immediate sign of disregard for the customer. That's how sales promotion can become sales prevention.