Good personalization is a balancing act, so why do marketers focus so much on one area? — 8-Point Arc

Great personalization requires specific knowledge of the customer, so it stands to reason that marketers spend a great deal of time getting it right.  But so often marketers introduce complexity in their customer data that cannot be met by the content in place.  Both sided have to be improved at the same rate.

Previously we talked some of the challenges in reaching the content marketing holy grail: the right piece at the right time for the right customer.


We covered how a number of options on how to get customer information and behavior (and some of the pitfalls) from web analytics, to cookie tracking, and even heuristics.


Knowing who you are dealing with is where many marketers start when thinking about personalization – and it makes sense, to understand the customer as much as possible so you can try to figure out what they need next.


Perfect personalization with bad content still equals bad experience


But the big pitfall is that marketers often focus on the customer rather than the product and unveiling the value proposition.  There is risk in spending too much time worrying about customer industry, demographics, psychographics and behavior and not enough on the offering and how it is unveiled.


You as a marketer inherently know this – you have covered things like “Buyer-Readiness Stage” have likely done some clear strategy of where your product fits in the market – but yet we seem to lose sight of these tenants when we get into personalization (likely due to the overwhelming complexity).


I’ve seen far too many marketers get extremely tied up in creating advanced segmentations and working on customer lifecycle maps for each segmentation.  Then try to layer in personalization into those.  All fantastic things to do, but do you have your basic story straight first?


Balance personalization efforts with getting your story right


This made me think of an old marketing textbook by Philip Kotler that has a great schematic in this context.   It’s helpful to refocus on the customer value hierarchy and ensure you have basic content aligns to your goals in communicating the value for each layer.



Use of this schematic will help establish general tenants for to connect your product to customer benefit –then enable you to consider your story telling balance.  At 8-Point Arc we of course use our modified version of The 8-Point Arc, but any framework will work.  The key is to consider the stages the customer note how your brand can connect with the customer at each stage, while staying aligned with the mission of your brand. 


At this point we essentially have two lists:  1.)  value levels, and 2.) connection with each stage of the customer journey.  You can go a lot further but with these two lists you can quickly determine if you have good content out there, and start to think about how to present it to the customer/prospect.



Here’s a brief example for our company (8-Point Arc) to get you started:



Value Journey


·      Core Benefit:  Make content marketing better

·      Basic Product: Way to measure the strategy and value content and competitors content to be able to optimize the creation and management of content

·      Expected Product:  Prove content is better, brand compliance, improved lead conversions

·      Augmented Product: Make marketers better

·      Potential Product – Fully automated content strategy and publishing plan creation


Story Telling Balance


·      Market Dynamics: Content is critical to the customer buying process

·      Customer State of Mind:  overwhelmed with managing content creation

·      Trigger Event: fear of content ROI question, declining effectiveness of content

·      Customer is the hero: take control of the process, drive results and sanity

·      Reveal Offer: content can be measured, brand compliance can be measured

·      Drive Action: get your 8-Point Arc story telling balance, demo, contact us


Now we can determine where in our story we want a new piece of content to fit, and can align the content to the value level we want to reveal.


Work on the parts of the whole equally


Personalization capabilities can then be leveraged to prioritize what content the customer will see based on these stages rather than customer demographics. 


This isn’t suggesting you don’t want to get all the way to full personalization with statistically strong segmentation.  However, before running down the highly sophisticated personalization rabbit hole, you really need to achieve clarity on your product and storytelling content.  If you get a single path of content well defined, then adding more personalization complexity becomes manageable and potentially more effective.  You then can focus on more personalized elements of your story that are tailore for the buyer specifics.


Rob Fuller



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