Personalization and Personal are Not the Same Thing

Personalization is the repeatable process to create something that appears individualized. Personal is something far more individualistic and even emotive.
Personalization and personal are not the same thing

My grade school teachers were the first ones to teach me that personalization and personal are not the same thing.

Do you remember elementary school where a whole lot of boys and girls had to be referred to as their first name and last initial because there were so many kids with the same name? 

There was Jennifer L and Jennifer O. And don’t forget Jennifer (who preferred to be called “Jenny” ) T. Then there were the Michaels: Michael M, Michael R … 

While they all have shared the same first name, we – their friends – all knew about the unique and individual characteristics each Jennifer and Michael had. One was a sticker collector, one played with POGs, one was the soccer fanatic, one was the master of the monkey bars, and one just crushed those times tables.

Our teachers were using this personalization mechanism to solve for efficiency which erased each person’s personal identity.

This attempt to streamline roll call failed to highlight the special attributes we all knew about our friends. That process to save time diluted our friends’ individual attributes and became impersonal.

Personalization and Personal are Not the Same. 

I know what you’re thinking; they’re pretty close. They are the same word but one has more letters – or for you grammar people out there: a suffix. 

So yes, in as far as their letter structure is concerned, they are close but they are also really, really different. Personalization is actually the process, or the result of doing something. Personal, however, refers to something more individualistic and emotive.

Are you looking to make your marketing and sales more personal? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Personal Experience for tips. 

The reason this matters? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be sold to or approached as part of a process. Instead, I’d like to be approached about who I am as the unique and individual person I am. 

We are all unique.

The things that make us who we are have always been divided by this awful imaginary line between our day job selves, our 9-to-5 job titles and responsibilities, and our after work selves, our 5-to-9 passions, and hobbies. 

Why does this line even exist? Does who we are fundamentally change that drastically after 5 pm that we in marketing automation have to create a data-centric alter ego during our 9 to 5? 

Back to the personalization/process thing. It is great, and of course, it is needed. As a Marketing Automation and Attribution Lead at Bandwidth, I’m very much responsible for executing and optimizing this process for our marketing team. But when I think of “personalization” only, I think about things such as {First_Name} tokens in emails or dynamic content on a website to display {Company_Name} or {Job_Title}.

Jennifer T, Company A, Marketing Manager

Jennifer L, Company A, Marketing Manager

This personalization is not the same as being personal. As humans, we crave connection. We feel more connected to each other and to a brand if we are recognized for the personal and unique attributes about us. 

Stop and think about the person you are reaching out to, and ask what makes them, them? What problems are they facing? After you’ve considered this, use the process to deliver an experience that is personal. Our team has been sending personal gifts to our prospects, and it’s really working.

Are you looking to make your marketing and sales more personal? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Personal Experience for tips. 

Or imagine starting off a sales call with a casual five minute chat about a personal and unique connection that you’ve found. That connection changes our perspective, attitude, and outlook on the relationship between a rep and a prospect. That connection bonds them as people throughout the sales process.

Personal matters. Empathy matters. 

How would that change to the process itself, to get to the personal side of things, look? Wouldn’t you much rather have a conversation with, connect with, and share with, people?

If the person isn’t your first thought, you are doing it wrong.

If the person isn’t at the center of what you are doing, you are doing it wrong. 

So, my advice is to start with the person. After all, personalization, also starts, with: person.

We owe it to every “Jennifer L.” or Michael K.” out there to flip the script and put the unique piece of each person first. Start tapping into that personal part of someone’s life, it can be the key to unlocking so much more for your marketing performance.

Photo by Rupert Britton on Unsplash

Personal Experience in Account Based Execution

May 21, 2020
Team Alyce
Team Alyce