From The Editor | February 23, 2018

How Personalization Can Transform Your Brand Publishing in 2018


By Travis Kennedy

I’m a dog person.  I don’t care much for cats (mostly because I’m allergic to them) and I’m not an ”exotic pet” guy that has pigs, snakes or rare birds roaming about the house.  Nope, dogs are the best and most dog lovers enjoy making the dog a central part of their family.

Earlier this year I received an e-mail message from the company BarkBox. BarkBox is a service that caters to dog lovers and dog lovers only by providing a monthly gift box, full of toys and treats, for your dog.  Their messaging even goes so far as to project human personalities on various types of dogs.  The reason?  So that the recipient feels an attachment.  An attachment to dogs, attachment to their dog and most importantly, an attachment to the message.  The lesson here is simple, they are speaking to dog people, nothing more, nothing less. 

Dog people treat their dogs like they are their kids.  These dogs are pampered, spoiled and owners will go to great lengths to provide them a happy and healthy life. BarkBox knows that and their messaging reflects it.  So how do they know that?  Simple, they TALK to their customers, they monitor social media feeds. They…. Pay…. Attention.

How many of us tune into the Super Bowl for the commercials?  Many of us (outside of the illegal box pools and endless beer and wings supply) don’t have a real rooting interest in the game itself.  But those commercials keep us glued even when the game takes a break.  My favorite is the one where the kid dressed like Darth Vader thinks he has started the car using the force.  He looks back to his dad in shock and his dad (while holding the keyless entry) smiles back and lets him believe he’s a Jedi.  Well, BarkBox understands that humor is a necessity.  They have been known to superimpose human ailments onto dog personalities which creates a rather empathetic AND humorous marketing message.  Have you ever pictured your dog stressing over having a bit of gas?  I haven’t but now that I do, it’s pretty funny.  Now, it may not be funny to non-dog people but BarkBox isn’t talking to non-dog people.  Get it?  A well placed ”inside joke” that only perhaps a wastewater operator in a warm weather municipality would appreciate may be just the trick to getting them to pay attention to you.

When you develop your marketing plan it’s important to stay within the guidelines and keep these three things in mind.

  1. Focus- You are only talking to one person at a time … the person that opens your e-mail.  Even if you have a lot of products, don’t try to be all things to all people.
  2. Customer Empathy- Know your customer, be your customer, speak to your customer.
  3. Humor- There are dollar signs in every chuckle.

Image credit: "dog," Martin Astley 2011, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: