Effective Personalization Is Harder Than You Think

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A year ago we spoke with Hamid Ghanadan, a life science marketing professional from The Linus Group, about personalization in Sales & Marketing. We are reposting because it is still relevant today.

Our big question – everyone wants to make Sales and Marketing more personalized. How do we actually go about doing that in an effective way?

Hamid founded The Linus Group and authored both Catalytic Experiences and Persuading Scientists. Hamid has 20+ years experience marketing and selling to audiences in science and healthcare. Linus’ most recent project is an extraordinary documentary film following a young boy as he fights Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in a personalized medicine clinical trial: Trial of One.

Getting Personal

Customers want a personalized experience. 81% of consumers want brands to know them and when to target them. Personalization can be a tool for increasing engagement and even accelerate the buying process.

As salespeople and marketers, we want to provide this personalized experience and almost every sales and marketing tool offers some level of personalization as a feature – but what most tools offer is not necessarily what customers want.

Where We Fall Short

“There’s a big difference between actual personalization and a patina of personalization” — Hamid Ghanadan

There are two types of personalization:

  1. Basic Personalization: Incorporating information about a person such as their role, where they live/work, whether they attended a conference, etc. into emails, phone calls or LinkedIn messages. Even basic psychographic personalization still falls in this realm. Examples:
    1. Templated message with personalization tokens changed
    2. A 1:1 message that mentions something in an effort to connect with someone
  2. Productive Personalization: Drawing specific conclusions or promoting specific actions based on the information that you have about the prospect. Examples:
    1. Tailoring a value proposition based off of problems you know that the customer experiences
    2. Proposing next steps based on actions that the customer has taken
    3. Adjusting the buying experience because of the conclusions you’ve made about the customer

Customers want personalization in a way that is directly relevant to what resources can address their needs and what their experience is in accessing those resources.

Repetition vs. Synthesis

“Recently I received two ‘personalized’ emails. The first one said:

‘Hi Hamid I was just looking at LinkedIn and I’ve identified you as someone who does Life Science Marketing and I think you could benefit from…’

The second one, which was actually effective, said:

‘In August of 2017, you did you downloaded this document. I’m wondering if you ended up reading it. If you did, ____, if you didn’t ____.’

Even though the data in the second email was more intrusive, it was still an action that I took. Then, they offered steps that were directly relevant to BOTH my action and the buying process.” — Hamid

While prospects don’t need (or even want) you to know that they’re a Pat’s fan with 2 girls, they know their information is available (i.e. LinkedIn, company updates, Inbound actions.) and expect you to use it to move the process forward, rather than parrot it back to them.

Personalization Makes us Better

“Having data is not intelligence, it’s just information. Grabbing publicly available information is not enough. How can you synthesize those fragments that everyone has into something that no one has? How can you make connections that no one else has made?” — Hamid

The best salespeople draw specific conclusions about their prospects’ needs from the information that they have. They use demographic information to start conversations, show that they’re listening to a prospect or build relationships.

Scaling productive personalization is difficult with the technology we have, but it should be our goal whenever it is possible.

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