All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts…

As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII – William Shakespeare

I’ve had this idea bouncing around in my head for a while now, and that is the concept of a “universe of one”. In each person’s story they are the protagonist, surrounded by a supporting cast of close family and friends. The rest of the world are merely background characters that momentarily appear on that person’s stage, giving their story flavor and context. Given the transient nature of most of human interactions, how then can we, as marketers, fit into the daily experience of an individual? How can we stand out, be interesting, and become more than just a side-note in someone’s “Universe of One”?

Enter in the concept of Individualized Segmentation: which is the idea that personalization is much more than just mail-merging in a first name to an email or even targeting based on geography or age group. It is shifting the idea of segmentation from a macro level of the market segment down to the micro level of the individual, based on granular demographic information or behavior.

Crafted Messaging
Perhaps it is a bit odd to use some of the following words, but they convey a bit of what I’m thinking on the idea of individualized messaging:

  • Bespoke
  • Artisanal
  • Unique
  • Hand Crafted

Although we’re not creating products that end up on Etsy or some other site for hand-crafted goods, we can “craft” our email messaging in such a way that it feels more personal and, hopefully, more meaningful to the target audience. These should be deliberate messages that help the customer engage with your company and product.

I am very selective about who I follow on social media or where I sign up for email newsletters. I don’t want to be overwhelmed by messaging, but those I do choose to include in my daily information feed are relevant to my interests. I like to hear what those companies or individuals have to say. More importantly to this discussion, I *love* getting mentions or retweets from the people I follow. For example, I am a “nobody” in the grand scheme of the social universe, so when my actions are noted or commented on — it makes me feel a little special. Your followers will feel noticed as well when you engage with them directly and personally, popping up in their universe with a hand-crafted interaction tailored just for them.

You have a few ways to include yourself in a consumer’s universe.

  • Become part of their stream of information with interesting and relevant general content. They decided to sign up initially for something you put out there, so earn their interest with each communication. That’s the big picture stuff you’re likely already doing. Keep it up.
  • Get specific when the occasion arises. As you get the chance to interact on an individual basis, seize it. Here is where you have the opportunity to stick around in their universe. This can be challenging if you have a large organization, but a good team and software can help. Find those one-to-one interaction opportunities and jump on them.
  • Invite them (individually or generally) to spread the “good word” of your service or product. Show value and don’t be afraid to ask people to become your advocate within their sphere of influence. I think this is where some companies fall a bit short with customers. Resolving an issue is fantastic customer service, but make sure to leverage that (hopefully) positive interaction to create an even greater impact.


Bringing it Together
To achieve the goal of crafting personalized messaging and tailoring engagement, you will need data. You’ve been collecting that information, right? Surveys, webinar registration forms, events, and app data should all be fueling your customer profile that will allow you to take the personal approach. If you don’t have good data on your customers, you’ll need to put in place software, people, and processes that will help you organize the data you gather (all good subjects in their own right). From there you will need to manipulate it and make it work for your team. If you already have that data, then use it to get personal with your customers. Remember, a little attention goes a long way in building personal customer relationships.


Originally posted in an edited format Response Media’s blog.