Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Personalization - 2019s Marketing Word-of-the-Year," articulates how personalized communications and messaging strategies have risen to the top of the marketing playbook based on an annual survey conducted by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).
The results of the survey state that, "Personalization is 2019s Word-of-the-Year." We contend that not only is personalization the 2019 word of the year, but it is also the marketing trend of the year as well. To begin with, most full-service commercial printing organizations have been utilizing personalization strategies with variable data printing technology for years. Personalization is old news in the printing industry.
Now that technological advancements in the digital space, including websites, social media channels, email marketing, and of course, print's VDP (variable data printing), have come to the fore, most, if not all, of marketing and advertising media offers personalization.
We evolved into a customer-centric universe long ago, as outlined in the infamous book "Who Moved My Cheese." That book brought to bear the concepts that niche markets would rise, and the "customer is always right," ultimately forcing retailers and B2B vendors to comply with customer demands.
Marketing's Words of the Year
To gain perspective on the evolution of marketing's focus, let's quickly review the previous words of the year: 2014 - Programmatic 2015 - Content Marketing 2016 - Transparency 2017 - Artificial Intelligence 2018 - Brand Purpose 2019 - Personalization
Notice that last year's 'Brand Purpose' is a precursor that the marketing community would shift to Personalization for 2019. Why? Brand-centric marketing and advertising is a methodology that places the brand first and the customer second. Today's prospects and consumers are looking for products and solutions that provide answers and solutions that make their lives better and easier to manage.
Therefore, it is a no-brainer that to attract and engage today's prospects, marketers and brands need to speak the consumer and prospects language. Personalization is an over-arching concept that suggests communication language is at the forefront of attracting and engaging prospects on their terms. It's quite simple to understand the language concept. Do you believe you can attract baseball fans by speaking in the hockey language? Would you talk to a non-English speaking person in English? Or would you communicate with a hairdresser using technical terms?
Marketing's Holy Grail Replaced
The brand-centric focus of yesteryear is over. Historically, whether or not the Association of National Advertisers picked brand-centric as the word-of-the-year, most brands and marketers execute the majority of their strategies in the brand-centric universe.
Let's pause and examine the brand-centric mindset for a moment. Even though the art of personalization is at the core of the digital printing industry, aka variable data printing, for years, most brands evaluated every piece of marketing material, both traditional and digital, based on its ability to improve brand equity and brand recall. As a result, whenever it came to boiling down the value of personalization strategies versus brand-centric ideologies, the mindset at the time was to continuously place personalization on the back burner to avoid personalized communication strategies that might interfere with brand building and brand notoriety.
Brand-equity and brand-centric mindsets will almost always be the final determiner for marketers to justify the viability of strategic marketing endeavors. However, you may find it interesting that new marketing buzzwords typically make it onto the scene after they have been inside the marketing sphere, quietly operating for some time before the industry at large ratifies those new buzzwords.
At the end of the day, and for the foreseeable future, personalization will be the official Holy Grail of marketing buzzwords.
ANA Runner Ups
You may be wondering what the runner-up word-of-the-year entries are, however, ANA chose not to report a lineup, and instead offered what they refer to as other top choices. These top choices reference 'data,' 'in-house,' and 'equality and inclusion.' These terms indirectly reference what full-service digital printing providers have been executing for years when it comes to variable data printing. Data is required to feed the digital presses, and in-house can be all-encompassing, for example, being able to personalize, print, fulfill and mail the digital collateral from the printer's USPS certified mail facilities. Our view is that the terms' 'data,' 'in-house,' and 'equality and inclusion,' also comport within the digital personalization universe and can be beneficial for prospects and customers.
ANA Verbatim Responses
Another essential viewpoint outlining the results of the ANA report are the quotes that came directly from the respondents, which shed more light on why personalization has become the new Holy Grail of Marketing.
"Personalization is what customers expect. Every current and prospective customer expects that your brand knows them and can deliver what they want."
"Consumers are busy. Too busy to invest time with anything that's not relevant to them personally. It's all about relevancy, aka personalization. 'Make it all about me.'"
"We now have the tools to pay off this benefit. Technology is enabling marketers to personalize consumer experiences and communication."
"In today's world of 'me,' personalization is how people want to consume information. Experiences need to be relevant and unique to the end-user at nearly every interaction."
"We're all striving to show value to customers in a way that's relevant to them. Technology is changing the way marketers are able to do so, and we're all united by our efforts to showcase personalization."
"As marketers, we can no longer think about customers as just a single large group. If we assume all customers are the same, then we are not meeting their needs."
Personalization is the key when it comes to marketing your brand to people. Through personalization, brands have the opportunity to communicate directly to prospects, consumers, and customers in a timely, relevant manner. Personalization has taken the adage of reaching the right customer at the right time in the right medium with the right message to a new level. Whether it's one-to-one or one-to-many, personalized messaging and communications should be the main focus of all advertising and marketing endeavors, now and for the foreseeable future. Happy Holidays and thanks for reading "Personalization - 2019s Marketing Word-of-the-Year."
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