It’s Personal, Not Personalized
There’s a difference between “personal” and “personalized”.
In an age where Marketers are working to find ways to make their messages more customized, more tailored, more specific to who we are, there’s still a marked difference between the two. Just because that email is addressed to you, or there’s a special offer made on your birthday, doesn’t actually make it personal. It’s simply programmed to appear that way.
It’s part of an ongoing effort to battle the natural consequence of scale: it’s inability to treat customers as individuals. We continue to struggle with it in an effort to couple the benefits of being “Big” with the special treatment that “Small” affords.
It’s a recognition that there was a different kind of loyalty when businesses were small and when shop owners knew our names. When they knew what we liked and didn’t like so they could point us in the right direction before we even asked. It was the recognition that we were individuals, not numbers. Real people who had real needs and actually mattered.
And despite the values and virtues of becoming big, the economies of scale, we don’t want to lose that.
Personal is about the human touch - the type that’s going to take a heck of a lot of AI to achieve. Automation won’t do it and while we can mimic elements of it, we can’t fully replicate it. Certainly not at scale. (As Seth Godin says, spam decorated as human interaction is still spam.)
That’s part of the reason why, despite the rapid growth of analytics and ML and AI, the personal touch still resonates, still influences our behaviors and decisions. And, of course, that recognition does indeed drive the rapid growth of analytics and ML and AI, as well.
It’s also why, for those offering the service or product, the personal touch deserves, and commands, a premium.