A book that I read more than 20 years ago fundamentally changed my perspective on business overall and marketing in particular.
Peppers and Rodgers “The One to One Future” embedded in my psyche the notion that knowing more about your customer than your competition was a critical component of competitive advantage. And before long “treat different customers differently” became my mantra.
As brilliant as Don and Martha’s book is, it was, for the most part, way ahead of its time. To be sure, many brands and marketers benefitted from its wisdom. But overall, few brands saw personalization as a burning platform and many of the espoused concepts simply could not be operationalized in any practical and cost effective way.
For most, a strategy of uniquely identifying customers, differentiating them by their needs and value, interacting with them to understand their desires and then customizing the experience in a relevant and remarkable way, lingered somewhere between a dream and a nice-to-do.
Yet today personalization is not only increasingly possible at scale, it is rapidly and inexorably becoming a business imperative.
It’s an imperative not because it’s cool or sexy or sounds good at a conference.
It’s an imperative because one size fits all marketing strategies are well past the point of diminishing returns.
It’s an imperative because we are drowning in a sea of sameness and delivering average products for average people gets you average results, if you are lucky, and gets you fired, if you aren’t.
It’s an imperative because the power has shifted irretrievably to the consumer and the only way to stand a fighting chance is to compete on deep customer insight, intense relevance, remarkability and trust.
That means small is the new big and intimate is the new interesting. And that, at last, the one to one future is here.
I will be moderating two very different expert panels on personalization during the next month. Stop by and say “hello” if you can.
On April 20th I’ll be with the Dallas-Fort Worth Retail Executives Association. Pre-register here: http://bit.ly/1Moj5ag
Then it’s ShopTalk in Las Vegas on May 17th. More information is available at http://bit.ly/1qYKvul Readers of this blog can use my promo code “sageb250” to save $250 on their conference registration.