Personalisation : going back to school


A lot is being talked about personalisation in marketing right now. The need to get relevant. To stand out from the crowd. To target. To nurture. To relate.

For many marketers, with busy days and pressing deadlines, it can all seem too overwhelming. Customer journeys, persona development and CRM strategies just seem too big a mountain to climb. But it doesn't have to be a massive overhaul. You can start small.

Recently my eldest (10 year old) son has been going through the process of sitting entrance exams for a number of schools in the area, for entrance at aged 11. Now for any of you with kids who've been through something similar you'll know what a testing, stressful and painful time this can be. Not only does your child have to be well schooled in achieving the necessary academic qualifications but they also have to perform well in an interview. Yes, that right. An interview.

Furthermore, competition is fierce. At one school, 1,200 children sat the exam for just 120 spaces. At another nearly 200 were going after just 12 spaces. So every parent is looking at ways to excel, and the focus is intensely on doing well, effectively making the case (through performance) that your child is the 1 in 10 the school should take.

But this is not a one-sided transaction. The schools are also doing their best at trying to attract you. Most have an impressive prospectus, a compelling set of historical results and a well-oiled series of open days. Its just as competitive on their side. Its a buyer-seller transaction and they want the best talent to come to their school. So whilst your focus is on "selling", its also difficult to know where to choose (or, in effect, "buy").

Which is why I was impressed by one school that took the opportunity to write to every single child sitting an exam, with a personal hand-written note from the Headmaster wishing them all the best. Not to the kids that made it. Nor to the ones on some shortlist. But to the ENTIRE entrance pool. Which, on a rough calculation, i'm guessing to be at least 1,000 notes. Handwritten in ink. Personalised with each child's name.

Just think of the effort that took. Even if you don't believe the Headmaster wrote the note. Or that he just signed it. Thats still an impressive feat that took days(?) and says a lot about the school's "brand".

And now think about the all the times you couldn't be bothered to write a note on a DM, stuff an envelope, send a personal thank you note to a valued customer or even personalise an email.

Sometimes getting personal is not about big ideas. Its about being smart and thinking about the small things that make the difference. I'm sure you have many just staring you right in the face.


PS : Of course, we chose the school :)