The Myth of 1:1 Marketing


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We’ve created this series, The Future of Marketing and How to Win, to not only share ideas on where the future of marketing is headed, but to also provoke some new ways of thinking about brand strategy and marketing.

In video 8, The Myth of 1:1 Marketing, of a 9-part series, we answer the question, “How do marketers become of value to individual members of their audience?”

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Hi, I’m John McGarr. I’m the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Fresh Squeezed Ideas, and we help progressive marketers engineer breakout brands. So, we’ve created this series, The Future of Marketing and How to Win, to not only share ideas on where the future of marketing is headed, but to also provoke some new ways of thinking about brand strategy and marketing.

How do marketers become of value to individual members of their audience?

We’re at a very exciting time in marketing. There’s an old saying: “Half the ad budget is wasted, but we don’t know which half.” Of course, that’s not as true anymore as it once was. Now, marketing has technology that’s very powerful at understanding what is resonating with customers, and being able to calculate an ROI. But, I recently saw a story of Lee Clow. Of course, he’s the advertising legend who created the 1990's—I think it is ’97—Apple spot, "Here’s to the Crazy Ones". He coined the term marketing arts instead of advertising. That’s really gave me pause to wonder what’s the difference between advertising and marketing arts? Advertising to me, really speaks to sticking a branded message in the faces of passive viewers over and over and over again, until they can’t help but recall the brand and the message, and the icons, and the jingle, and so on.

The modern equivalent of this is “preroll” and display ads that are showing up in our social newsfeeds, and videos we watch online. It really begs the question about marketing arts. Marketing arts is really about something much more. It’s about engagement. It’s about experience. It’s about creating something of value to the viewer. So, this digital are really allows marketers to break free of the 30 second spot, and create an endless array of possible creative engagements. So, why not take advantage of it? The idea is that these engagements are much more attractive rather than sticking something in front of the passive viewer. While this creates opportunities for one to one marketing management like never before, the idea that marketers no longer broadcast, but rather engage, personalized marketing is actually a bit of a fallacy.

I’m struggling to understand why I’m still bombarded with display ads for stuff I don’t care about. The problem is the scale of executing on the one to one marketing proposition is actually beyond imagination. But scatter shot preroll is not the solution. So, of course we have to ask ourselves how do marketers become of value to individual members of the audience? This is a critical question, and you need to start by understanding two things. Number one, products and services plays a very important role in consumers’ lives. And secondly, marketers have an important role therefore to play in the consumers’ lives. You see, if everything that we purchase creates meaning in our lives, then marketers have a responsibility, a very serious one. They’re involved in our lives. So, it’s important to marketers to truly understand us as consumers, and set themselves against the task of enriching our lives with greater meaning.

But it leads to the question of how do you build meaningful engagement with customers through personalized marketing? The key idea is that narratives attract customers. They choose to engage on a one to one basis. And so, the B2C branch should take a page out of the B2B marketing handbook. Content is king. Crafting a narrative that attracts your target customer, rather than trying to throw yourself in front of them online is really the key to success. The best examples of a narrative that attracts customers, rather than trying to intercept them, is from KLM, the Dutch airline. Now, if you leave something on an airplane, you’ve probably had the experience that airline crew, or the airport staff can be indifferent to your specific problem. They’ve got a lot going on. Well, KLM has introduced a sniffer dog, and the dog’s job, when someone leaves something light on the airplane is they come down the aisle. The flight attendant will let the dog smell the item, slip it into it’s backpack, and it will run off through the airport all the way through the baggage, until it finds the person, and what a wonderful way to have your lost items returned to you by this cute little puppy.

It’s a wonderfully entertaining piece of film that you can find on YouTube. As a viewer, I can’t even name another Dutch airline, but I know KLM, and that’s what it’s all about. It attracted me because it is an entertaining story. It created value in my day. There’s another one around Christmastime. West Jet has for several years created the miracle of Christmas program. In 2013, if you’re in an airport with a kiosk form West Jet, you could give a wish list to Santa, and of course, lots of people did it, adults, kids, a wonderful array of people you know, went up to this video terminal and basically told Santa what they wanted. By the time they landed at their destination, the West Jet staff had gone out, purchased the items, wrapped them, brought them to the airport, and sent them all down the baggage carousel just in time as people were there to collect their luggage. For an industry that doesn’t have the best reputation for caring for customers, that’s a pretty awesome way of changing a narrative, and of course it’s very sharable content.

So, that leads to of course, the question of how do you build such a great narrative? Well, it’s very simple. It comes down to deeply understanding both your customers and how they use or how they struggle with your category, regardless of whether the product or service. This can be very complex, but with the right guidance, anyone can navigate this. But the real skill is identifying the new narratives that resolve tensions or align to their values, such that customers feel connected. They feel joy. It invokes pride or it inspires them to explore, or have social impact. Once you do all that, you will have come a long way to defining a purpose for your business that will attract individuals to your brand message, rather than jamming them, a less relevant message at a time.