From Good to Great: Personalized Marketing & Privacy Concerns


I know I am behind the curve but I have been reading a book I am sure many of you have read before. It is called Good To Great. I have been particularly fascinated with the hedgehog concept. It totally makes sense and seems like something we should all already get.

Now being that I am ADHD to the hilt, I realized that I don’t always stick to the hedgehog concept. I love to explore and learn and move from one thing to the next. Many things that I do happen just because I did them on a whim, or something tickled my fancy. I think for many of us in the marketing/internet arena we follow along those same lines. We love technology for technology’s sake, because it is something new even if it doesn’t really make our life that much better.

Maybe as an industry (digital marketing) we should try to find our hedgehog concept. What is the role that we play with consumers? From a strictly marketing point of view what value do we bring and what should be our overall driving purpose. Remember simple is the key. Should we really be using the tools, data and talented individuals in our realm to maybe make marketing as simple as personalization? But wait that is complicated. I hear people saying now but what about privacy?

Ok so the concept is simple. The technology and educational resources behind it may be complicated. Maybe if we took the approach of educating the masses and the privacy people(government included) about the benefits it could work. Haven’t over the last several decades more and more people been searching for companies that would provide “personalized service” The rewards member of a credit card company or say a “Starwood Preferred Guest” aren’t they really looking to be recognized as an individual and in turn willingly hand over vast amounts of data over to the companies in exchange for “personalized rewards or service”?

Do people realize that there are companies called “credit bureaus” who’s sole existence rest upon gathering as much confidential data about an individual as possible and then selling that information to marketers and companies? I actually got started in marketing years ago doing Direct Mail (yes I know I just dated myself). For marketing campaigns we used to buy “targeted” list from companies like Experian & Transunion.  People get upset about privacy online but look at what info a “targeted” list could include:

  • Target 5 Specific zip codes.
  • Only people who had cars purchased 2 years ago (that were Fords)
  • with credit scores above 700
  • Had at least 2 kids
  • 3 credit cards with combined balances above $5000
  • Income between $50k-$75k
  • Their addresses and Phone Numbers

Because we find value and the credit bureaus are entrenched in society we accept it many times not realizing the info they are selling to others. How many people freely put up their likes/dislikes, wants, needs, race, gender, age, name, location, personal feelings, and life events, on websites like MySpace (edit – Notice when this was written. today I would have used Facebook or Google+)  for the world to see. Marketers could go cull the search Shave-Britneys-Headengine results pages for information and find it because the data was put out there. Yet when the company you provided all of that data to tries to use it to market products or services you might actually be more interested in – than say the “shave Britney’s Head” banners – everybody gets up in arms about the lack of privacy.

Maybe I should have titled this article “Privacy issues and the invalid points people make” but I wanted to bring about thought. I love the Socratic method. If you want answers ask the right questions. My wife and friends (especially my mom) say I ask why, or question them to much. They say I back people into a corner through my questioning. But really I am just curious and I have found the best way to get a good answer is to ask a good question.

So with a new year comes new opportunities. Of course we could say that is true with each month, day, hour or minute, but that is beside the point. If the companies all vying for supremacy in the online marketplace want to be the best in the world… maybe it’s time we asked ourselves what is it that online marketing can be the best in the world at?

Happy New Year!

 

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