The Power of Personalization

Can you lose a sale in two words?   Yes, you can.   What two words could be so horrible they’d lose a sale from a willing, qualified prospect?

“Dear Sir”

That’s all it took.   I was not happy with my current lawn irrigation company and was actively looking for another company to replace them.   And – there in my mailbox one morning was a letter from another irrigation company.  I opened it eagerly because I thought – hah!  They’re marketing in this neighborhood, I’ve heard of them, maybe they’re even offering a special!    I was a marketer’s dream – familiar with the brand, in a high state of need, and ready to act now.   Then that letter spoke two words to me…

“Dear Sir”

That was it – I was gone.  I didn’t even read the rest of the letter.  I balled it up and into the trash it went.   Shoot…..into the trash it went.   Damn small trash can opening….into the trash it went.  There.

My neighborhood is littered with single people, retired people, and families, many with stay at home moms and a few single moms.    For any of these families where the woman was the decision maker, or there was no male at all – that letter probably ended up in the same place mine did.  Why?  Those opening words told me one thing – this is a company run by good-old boys. (there are a Lot of them where I live) They want to deal with “the man of the house”.  They don’t want to waste their time with “little ladies” like me.  Now, that may have been a completely false impression – but all that matters in this case is customer perception.    

How hard would it have been to say “Dear homeowner”.   The best thing they could have done would be to get a hold of the neighborhood directory and personalize the greetings.

Email subject lines with your name in it get higher open rates.   People respond to personalization.  Women respond to personalization. Especially…..when giving gifts. Gift giving is often about “the personal touch”.  What better way to deliver that than with a personalized gift?

Many companies understand the power of personalization. Order an iPod online and you’ll be prompted to choose an engraving.  Loved it!   Had a nice note engraved on the back of it for my sister with her name on it.    Cell phones let you choose your personalized ring tone.   (I spent untold hours searching all options before choosing mine.  I hadn’t put that much thought into anything since choosing a college)

Church of the Customer talks about pet personalization (I guess that would be “petization”)    

Milk-Bone is making it possible for dog owners to create (and buy, of course) personalized Milk-Bone box holiday ornaments featuring their precious pup.

This dovetails with my recent post on moving customers up the loyalty ladder to ownership, helping customers feel that the brand is their brand. This is a good step. Next up for Kraft (owner of Milk-Bones): Allow customers to create personalized versions of actual Milk-Bone boxes!

Read the whole article about the power of personalization.

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10 Responses to The Power of Personalization

  1. How to Lose a Sale in Two Words

    Holly asks, Can you lose a sale in two words? The answer is a resounding yes. Check out her post about The Power of Personalization for some great insight into how easy it is to throw away your chance to

  2. Puru Gupta says:

    Thanks a lot Holly for the insight. Have linked to this entry on my blog.
    Link: http://readbetweentheps.blogspot.com/2005/11/how-to-lose-sales-in-two-words.html
    I used your perspective to give a perspective in the Indian context. Hope its fine with you!
    Thanks!

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  9. Ute says:

    Hi,An interesting take’ and cenraitly very useful. However, you talk as if Marketing and Sales were not fully connected and thus talk of Marketing and Sales Executives needing to work together; this is a rather old-fashioned pre-Kotlerian view that sees Sales as primary and Marketing as some sort of ancillary function. Marketing is the whole management function concerned with finding out what people want and anticipating what they will want in the future. It is then responsible for overseeing that what is produced actually does satisfy the customers needs and wants (want = how the need is fulfilled). Finally it is charged with the task of raising awareness of the product in the market and promoting the benefits of the product, and the benefits of the product over those of competitors. All promotional efforts should strive to be measurable and Selling is just one of the many parts of the Marketing Communication Mix; which also includes Advertising, Direct Mail, Telesales, Point of Sale, Sales Promotions, Sponsorship, Public Relations, etc.. Face to Face Selling is thus part of Marketing; as it is entirely interactive allowing for adjustment in the approach and message, it is the most powerful component of all of the Marketing Communications Mix and thus part of the fourth P’ of the overall Marketing Mix. However its use is expensive and this is of course why it tends to be used only for high value products or large quantities of products as in B2B’. A modern company will have a Marketing Director responsible for the whole Marketing function and to whom the Sales Manager reports. The idea that Marketing is something that you only do when you can’t sell what you make, with Marketing simply being an aid to selling via Advertising etc. is long obsolete. A successful organization should not have allowed itself to be in the position of having to sell what it makes rather than what customers want!Mike Cudzich-Madry, Chartered Marketer and Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Marketing, Sheffield Hallam University

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