There is a difference between a personal experience and personalized marketing. One is authentic the other is authentic-ish. Let me explain.
When we first moved to the small town we call home, my wife asked me why I wanted to live there. I answered, “it seems like the kind of place where we can become regulars, where the store owners will get to know us.”
The first place that happened was Chet’s Video, owned and operated by Chet Strout and his wife, Carrie Thomas. Yeah, it was that long ago that we rented things called VHS tapes and DVDs from a store. This was before streaming when Netflix actually mailed you DVDs.
Well, now Chet’s is gone and Netflix has a market cap of $155B.
Chet’s was a special place though. Housed in a faded blue Victorian with a red door, it had movie posters in the window, a hand-painted sign hung off to the side, and it sat kitty-corner to Tony’s Pizza and The Five Corners Kitchen at the nexus of our small town.
Upon entering, the first thing you noticed was the smell of freshly popped popcorn (free with or without a rental), then the rows of candy jars filled with sweets of every color, then Chet’s oddball collection of figurines, albums, and memorabilia that passed for decoration.
Beyond that were the shelves filled with tapes and discs and, importantly, a chalkboard with his and his staff’s recommendations. When my daughter, Bridget, was two my wife dressed her as a pile of leaves for Halloween and she won Chet’s first-ever costume contest. Her picture joined the wall and hung there for the next 20 years.
Netflix has never hung a picture of my daughter on its wall and it only knows her as her profile, Anvil Assassin. Don’t ask.
Is a profile personal?
Actually, my whole family is Anvil Assassin. While we took the time to set-up individual profiles when we first started our account, all five of us now just use this one profile. We’ve essentially rendered the personalized marketing algorithm useless. But it was useless to begin with.
Sure, it can tell me that there are other British Detective shows that I like but it also recommends documentaries (my wife) and new episodes of Riverdale (my daughter) or Suits (my other daughter) or animated classics (my son). Essentially, it’s a video store without as many movies or fresh popcorn.
Perhaps used properly it would be more useful as it’s incredibly convenient and a great value. But it will never be personal.
Netflix knows what I watched but it doesn’t know what I thought about what I watched.
Sure it knows if I finished a series or not but it doesn’t really know why. Maybe I just got busy and couldn’t finish the program. Maybe I didn’t like it. Maybe my wife started me watching something else. All it really knows is that Anvil Assassin watched 50 minutes of Hinterland. And therefore, Anvil Assassin, might want to watch Broadchurch.
That’s personalized marketing. It’s a surface-level understanding and a small attempt to provide better service by being relevant. But it’s not personal.
In contrast, Chet and I talked every time I visited the store. He asked questions about the film we were returning, he answered questions about the films we were interested in. He introduced us to films that he liked, that Carrie liked or that his daughter, Melissa, liked. He posted his recommendations and updated it regularly.
And he knew us, really knew us. Like when our birthdays were (free rental), what kind of candy we liked (so he kept it stocked), and that we preferred two boxes of popcorn. He knew our names, our anniversary, and he celebrated those things as well as our years of patronage. Personalized marketing can’t tell you that, or if it did it wouldn’t feel authentic and quite frankly, be perceived as creepy.
Building a relationship builds business
So why is this important? Well, for one, I trusted Chet. He’d earned it by being interested in us by understanding us and knowing our history. And it kept us coming back most Fridays for about 20 years. Our personal connection kept us loyal. We, and many others in our town, owned a VCR and a DVD player long after most of the country moved on.
That trust allowed Chet to upsell us. He would recommend new candy sold by weight that we would try. He expanded his relationship with us by offering new services. For example, Chet digitized our old home movies from VHS to .MOVs. He diversified by including vintage vinyl. My son started his vinyl collection there. My wife and I both bought and sold.
Look, Chet’s Video is gone. Time and technology made his business obsolete. But the way he did business will never and should never go out of style.
He epitomized the best of the Relationship Era when 1-1, in-person interactions meant everything.
The question is, is his way still applicable to modern enterprise sales and marketing?
At Alyce, we think the obvious answer is, “yes.”
The Personal Experience Era is here
We believe the cold, generic outreach that optimized quantity over quality and dominated much of the last decade has got to go. Generic emails and cold-calls are not only less and less effective these days, but they’re also actively upsetting people.
This is why we created our platform to give Sales and Marketing teams the ability to connect personally and generate responses with their prospects and customers through 1-1 gifting. It’s the best way to get closer to your buyers and create a personal experience that builds relationships.
But the gift is only the beginning. Along the entire customer journey, our platform keeps feeding you information that helps you deepen your bond and earn trust.
As we continue to add features and products to our platform we will always ask one question to help guide us:
What would Chet do?