June 18, 2016
Against the persona, for the person: the key to brick-and-mortar success
By Annie Mueller
The most powerful writing happens when a writer forgets about the brand, the philosophy, the sales strategy, the target group, and simply writes as one person to another.
It's powerful because it's real. Ultimately, no matter what form of communication we use to share our ideas with each other, we are all limited: I am an individual, and so are you. I am tied to my individuality, my own perspective, as you are tied to yours. When I speak, no matter what pronoun or "voice" I use, I am, ultimately, always speaking as one person to another. One single, unique voice to one single, unique listener.
Our individuality, more than anything, is what makes us real. I want to belong, to find commonality, but I never, ever want to lose myself in that belonging.
Marketing often fails because it is directed to a group. We do our best to understand the group. We analyze the data and find the commonalities. Then we create messages designed to appeal to those common ties and interests. Sometimes they work, for some of the people in the group. But whenever we speak to a set of data points, rather than to a person, we lose as much as we gain. Every customer is more than a set of data points. More than I want your product, I want your recognition. I want to be seen. I want to be known, as me. I want my identity to matter. And if I sense that it doesn't matter, that I don't matter to your brand, I will leave.
The strongest brick-and-mortar brands have done the best with the advertising tools they had. They've made it work with a powerful, dependable brand identity, a dedication to stellar customer service, and a commitment to bringing convenience and value to their customers. The strongest e-commerce brands have done the same, but they've had one distinct advantage: the power of technology to personalize every customer interaction. Digital brands have been able to recognize the individual, at every point of contact. The individuals have responded; online shopping has grown at staggering rates, and it's not slowing down.
What to do, what to do?
Find a way to talk to a person, each person, not to a persona group or a target market. That's what to do. You already know that. What you haven't known, perhaps, is how to do it in the real world. There have been attempts. There are plenty of products and services that offer a pseudo-personalization for your brick-and-mortar business.
But unless those services give your brand the ability to interaction in real-time, with every person, at every possible point of contact in your store, they are missing the mark. Your shoppers know the difference. Your brand will suffer for it.
There is a way.
True personalization depends on having the technology to process huge amounts of data, quickly, and generate responses from that data in real-time. That's been the obstacle to real-world personalization. How do you get that technology into a store, working seamlessly, working everywhere? That's been the problem that no retail tool, software, platform, or service has been able to solve.
We like people. We are people, and we know what it feels like to get misdirected marketing, to deal with overwhelming options, to be confused, even insulted, by off-base advertising. We also know what it feels like to work hard to build a business without the right tools. It feels discouraging. It feels pretty terrible.
True innovation is often not a matter of a new invention or idea, but the new application of an idea. A new use. A new method for a known technology. That's what migo IQ is: it's a new combination of machine-learning technology with physical hardware. It's simple. It works. And it solves the problem that hadn't been solved. It brings the right tool into the real world. Now your brand can talk to every one of your customers, in real-time, automatically, everywhere in your store locations. And your customers? They'll respond. They will respond with increased purchases, with brand loyalty, and with return visits. The numbers are there. Personalization works.
That's because personalization is about the person.
And that's what we're all about, too.