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Elevating Brands 007: The Personalization of Marketing

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Len Sullivan:
So, Pieter, do people like people?


Pieter Bickford:
Well, I like everybody…


Len Sullivan:
I know you like everybody, but as a high functioning introvert...I have a lot of problems with that.


Pieter Bickford:
I knew that was going to be your answer too.


Len Sullivan:
It's a horrible way…I guess if people have been watching to this point, they know that these things start very strange. Anyway, welcome to yet another episode of Elevating Brands. I am Len Sullivan.


Pieter Bickford:
And I'm Pieter Bickford.


Len Sullivan:
So, today we are going to be talking about people, and in particular, personalization of marketing. So, what are your thoughts on that, Pieter? When I say personalization of marketing, what do you think? I mean, this has a whole bunch of different names, a different variety of tactics, but what do you think of when I say that?


Pieter Bickford:
Well, I know the constant conversation we're having with clients is they usually come to us wanting our help, finding their voice, finding their story. We try to make that as easy as possible for them, and one of the ways of doing that is by personalizing their brand because I think it feels almost informal in some ways. And it's a great way to figure out how you want to talk to your customers, but also how you want them to perceive you.


Len Sullivan:
Not only with the brand archetype, once you find your voice, but also the personalization of either the representatives, the CEO, the, or even the products themselves being personalized, the extent of it reduced the barrier to entry for a potential customer, especially a new customer to feel like they have a personal invitation to try, employ, understand your product. We see this in a variety of different ways, and in a variety of different markets, like introduction videos. If you're a real estate agent with a very particular set of skills, it would behoove you to have something on your website that introduces your service and who you are as a person. Even as quirky as you might be, it says something about…it makes you more human and more approachable.


Pieter Bickford:
Absolutely. And everybody wants to work with somebody they feel comfortable with. And even if that ends up being a brand that they want to shop with when they're more comfortable with it, the more likely they are to be loyal to it.


Len Sullivan:
Yeah. And I mean, isn't that in this world of social media, where everyone engages with the content that they love and, and all the algorithms that know our behaviors and what we like, there's something to be said for…I'm going to go out on a limb here.


I have a friend of a friend, or a relative who who has a friend, who has a clothing store, but they do online live videos of new product. And essentially, they have either the owner or the people that work there model the clothing. In a sense, you can lay in your bed and shop by watching people model clothing, and these are not supermodels. They're your general…I can kind of see what I would look like in your clothing and make it way more approachable than the supermodel who would be like, I would never fit in that, so I'm not even going to look. I found that really interesting and the engagement seemed to be very high. I didn't research it but relative engagement seemed very good for that brand, which was a small brand, one that's actually sort of just kicking off.


Pieter Bickford:
I love that idea too. I mean, we work with a client, that's a grocery store chain, and they insist on whenever they do an ad, having their own grocery store employees in the video. And you know, even if they don't necessarily identify that person as an employee, they've done both. I think it still adds to the authenticity of the brand, which I think will help them in the long run.


Len Sullivan:
You know, and there was a situation, and I want to say that it was a Walmart employee who had done something, gotten a good review. Someone had called them out. Are you familiar with this? I see you smiling.


Pieter Bickford:
Yeah. It's, it sounds similar. Yeah.


Len Sullivan:
It took off, and it seems like all the reviews started being these made-up reviews, where the people who followed the page started making things up about this employee that just kept getting more ridiculous, but in a humorous and light-hearted way of, like, she saved my child from a burning car, and she did this. But it exploded in terms of social media by calling out your employee. And obviously the employee thought it was very funny, but it was a very successful way to not only personalize that place, and I'm sure everyone wants to go there and meet this person now and kind of laugh and commiserate about it.


And as much as you talk about that in the form of a joke, that is effective marketing. At its very grassroots, it is such an impactful thing for that location and that business to have something like that.


Pieter Bickford:
Yeah. I remember even when you came and were promoted to vice president, you did a video. And it was a little bit goofy, but I think probably people loved it as well, because if people are going to work with HighRock, and they want to work with the great Len Sullivan, they can watch the video and see a little bit about you.


Len Sullivan:
Great. That's, that's a new one.
But yeah, I mean, I don't think I ever shied from the fact that we are a bunch of…I like to think that we know what we're talking about when it comes to marketing, but we're also normal people. And I think if you don't embrace that as a company or as a brand, it makes selling yourself, or selling yourself or your service, extremely difficult.


Pieter Bickford:
Well, and as you know, usually one of the most popular pages on a small businesses website is the about page, because people want to learn about who they're going to be working with. And one of the advice that we always give is, yes, definitely explain your credentials for why you're the right person to hire, but also show your personal, that there's some different ways that they might be able to connect with you.


Len Sullivan:
So did we answer our question? Are people important?


Pieter Bickford:
People are very important, but again, I like everybody, so…but people want to work with people. Even when it's a service that they need provided, they still, at the end of the day, it's about relationships. It's about people. And so of course, people are important, and making your brand as personal as it can be, can be very important.

Nikoletta Gjoni

by Nikoletta Gjoni, Project Manager

As a graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) with a degree in English Literature and Journalism, Niki's passion has always been storytelling and all the forms it can take. As such, her professional experience has ranged from working in cable news to holding communications and marketing director roles in the nonprofit sector. She enjoys connecting with audiences through strategic branding and marketing approaches and believes a good story will almost always win someone over for a new product or experience.

Outside of work, Niki is an award-nominated fiction and creative nonfiction writer, as well as a manuscript editor and creative writing coach for new and young writers. She enjoys traveling, eating good food, supporting indie bookstores, and combatting writer's block, among other things.

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