Here I go again aging myself … but when I was young, marketing prospects were segmented into personas, and we liked it that way! Then, the automobile replaced the buggy and we sent people to the moon, and we all hated the taste of New Coke, and so on and so forth. Okay, jokes aside, my point of this brief (yet highly sarcastic) rant is that times change, and things evolve. Marketing is one of those things.
In particular, the idea that in 2021 customers or potential customers are viewed in segments and personas is downright hysterical. Seriously, think about the time in which we all now exist. For the majority of human beings, any time we buy anything, surf the internet, or even talk about something in private—ads suddenly appear in the weirdest of places. More so, those ads are based on exactly what each of us as individuals search for and buy—personalized to us, and no one else.
Here’s a perfect example of “personalization” versus old-school “segmentation.”
I have a dirty little secret—I’m addicted to Pinterest, as is one of my best friends. However, our two accounts look VERY different. I’m a cycling nerd who loves very specific mountain bike gear. My friend is a musician who loves a very specific type of music equipment. Therefore, two very different Pinterest profiles with very different Pinterest boards and recommendation feeds.
But—and this is a big BUT—why are the two feeds different? Because we are different people that like different things! Shocking, I know. That said, if we apply old-school marketing segmentation to this example, the two of us would see the exact same things—which is the antithesis of Pinterest. That’s because we are, as “segments,” considered the same person. We both live in the same neighborhood, are married with two kids (our daughters even share the same name), we make the same income, and we even travel together as families. So we are the same, right? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Now take this example of “same” versus “different” and apply it to a restaurant environment. If my friend and I are the same people (well, according to segments, we are), we would undoubtedly eat the same food, right? Wrong! Even in this case, we have different tastes in food, beer, and so on—making us, once again, very different people. As such, it’s safe to say that the ads I get for local eateries should be different than what my friend gets. Make sense?
So here’s the split in old-school versus new-school marketing, and why businesses need to adapt. Every day, we are marketed to as consumers. And every day, we as individuals decide what we like and don’t like. Businesses capture these choices—or at least, they should—through data points that can then be actioned. In other words, the more data captured, the less generic and more personalized the marketing offers become for each individual person.
This is where businesses such as restaurants really need to step up their game. The social shift towards personalization began years ago. In 2021, it’s downright expected by customers—meaning that when ads and offers are made, they’d better be based on personal data.
The good news is that restaurants—more than anyone else—are the best candidates for personalized marketing initiatives.
Every interaction that a customer makes is literally based on their exact personal preferences. From when and where they eat, to what they like to eat and drink, to repeat events—every time a person interacts with a restaurant, they are presenting their personal preferences on a proverbial silver platter.
Reservations, for instance, can be calculated in a repeatable nature. The times, days and weeks of the year show patterns that could be marketed to in advance. Put another way, if a customer makes the same reservations every month around the same time, or comes back every year on special occasions—that is personalized data.
Moreover, what they order is again highly personalized. Knowing what a person’s favorite drink is, to knowing their favorite dishes—this is all personalized data that can be captured on the spot and then marketed back to them as offers and specials.
The world has become a reflection of Pinterest—personalized searches and displays that meet the exact preferences of the individual. Isn’t it time that your marketing caught up? Just like New Coke years ago, nobody likes segments—and both leave a bad taste in one’s mouth. So let’s talk about personalization and making each individual customer’s experience as delicious as possible, every time they engage with your brand.
Chief Customer Officer
Andrew Armstrong is the Chief Customer Officer at omNovos – working globally with customers to design world-class customer engagement programs. He’s a prolific writer and speaker on topics including customer loyalty, personalization, and retail marketing technologies. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter - his open approach to all topics usually leads to a fun discussion and a few laughs.