This week we found an interesting story from Entrepreneur by Christine Alemany, the CEO of Trailblaze Growth Advisors.

In her article entitled, “Smart Brands Won’t Generalize When It Comes To Gen Z,” Alemany describes how industry heavyweights like Target and Papa John’s are worried about becoming obsolete with consumers under 25 and why personalized marketing experiences may be an effective way to respond.

She goes on to add that the trend towards personalization is being financed by a flood of new marketing dollars, many of which simply won’t pay off for a few reasons:

  • Companies will personalize efforts with the wrong technology and in the wrong marketing channels
  • Brands don’t share the values needed to make a genuine connection with consumers
  • They’ll focus way too much on marketing messages and not enough on truly understanding the messages that connect best with consumers

It will be interesting to see exactly how many marketing dollars will be wasted as the industry continues to tinker with personalization the year to come. And the bigger question I have is: is this about personalization or simply being personable as a brand?

That brings us to this week’s topic.

Setting Brand Emotion In Motion

Today, personalization is coveted as a panacea for marketers. But how do you make sure you’re getting the most return on your investment in this growing space?

First let’s talk about the technology. Forget the technology. Seriously. Too many companies start and end their personalization efforts with the latest tool and end up looking like one when it fails to pay off.

Always start with the strategy. And when it comes to personalization, the best strategies will usually involve getting personable with consumers because this allows you understand the actual motivations, values, and needs of the customer.

Like Alemany says in her Entrepreneur article, it’s important for brands to a) share the same values with customers and b) be able to communicate those values effectively instead of focusing on their own marketing messages.

But how do you do you that, exactly? It starts with asking consumers.

Three emotional questions to ask consumers

Here are three questions you should ask your customers, either in person, through email or by running a survey if you want your personalization strategy to pay off.

1) Category traits

First, ask consumers what traits they look for when buying a product or service in your category. Include functional aspects like price, features, and customer service, but then also include some intangibles like saving time, convenience, or any value props you see the competition bragging about.

2) Brand values

Next, ask them to rate a list of values that companies in that category should support if they want to make the world a better place. This question helps to determine the aspirational qualities a brand should strive for in addition to simply selling a product that has all the appropriate features and benefits.

When you ask consumers to rate a list of values, you make them pick the one or two emotions that matter most to them. Knowing this information makes it so much easier to launch personalization efforts that resonate with customers.

3) Brand feelings and emotions

Finally, ask consumers how your brand makes them feel. For best results, ask the question in an open-ended format.

Responses can be classified by sentiment and categorized for meaning, which helps marketers gain an even better idea of how consumers see their brand. Double down on the things people love about your brand and address the issues that lead to customers feeling like they’ve been catfished.

Dollar for dollar, getting your customers’ answers to these three questions is probably the best investment you can make in marketing personalization because it helps you get that much closer to the types of personable experiences consumers are hungry for today.

Long story short, if you know how customers want to be served and then you reach out and offer them that thing, it’s going to seem incredibly personalized and thoughtful whether the email contains the person’s first name or not.

Your thoughts about brand emotion?

What do you think? Are you investing more in the next year on personalization tools, the data needed to personalize campaigns? A bit of both? How does brand emotion play into personalization?