Everybody Knows

Tell me if you've heard this one before: Millennials are self-entitled.

How about this one: Trump supporters are racist.

Or this one: Religious fundamentalists are poorly educated.

Depending upon your own generational, political, or religious bent, you probably feel that 'everybody knows' at least one of these statements. If not, I'm certain that we can find one that resonates, because one of the things that our hyper-pattern-aware species is terrific at is categorization. We evolved to think that when caveman Erg died after eating red berries, all red berries from that point on were suspect, and that when a patch of tall grass rustled right before Erg's wife, Yrt, got dragged off by a saber-tooth, rustling of any kind meant spears up and put the kids in the center of the circle.

'Everybody Knows', besides being one of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs, is useful when you have little or no control over your environment, or when you simply lack data. The problem with it as an ongoing practice for a species that has Google, tasers, and cookbooks is the same thing that was always the problem: It only applies a certain percentage of the time, and that percentage shrinks as the data set grows. When you're talking about data sets the size of half of the U.S. electorate, a generation that is now almost 50% of the population, or a major religion, the stereotypes 'everybody knows' don't apply to literally millions of people in each of those groups.

As uncomfortable as data-mining makes some people, one of its biggest advantages is that it finally makes it possible to treat each person - each Customer - as an individual. Rather than communicating offers that a given Customer may or may not be interested in via shotgun snail mail coupons, we can gather enough information - in most cases, at little or no cost - to determine exactly what will appeal to each Customer, when, and at what price point. All that it takes is effort... and a complete change to how most organizations approach marketing.

To be heard in an age when our competitors are already probably ahead of us, even how we communicate our messages has to be individualized. How many mailbox ads do you even read before you put them in the trash? Some Customers want to be told things in person, some via email, some by phone, others by text. Deciding to communicate with all Customers in just one way is just as ineffective as making no change: a large percentage will not hear you at all.

Why waste all that time and money? That's like spending all of your money on local television, newspaper, or radio ads to reach Customers who get most of their information and entertainment online.

Remember the 3 fundamentals of keeping Customers:

  • Timeliness
  • Perfection
  • Individualized experience
Customers love to tell us what they want, like us when we listen, and stay when we offer what they need.

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