4 Digital Lessons The Coronavirus Has Already Taught Us. Lesson #4

Lesson #4. Strategize & Digitize; The New Normal Will Be Very One-Dimensional.

Before we dive deep, I want you to take 60 seconds of your time and watch my favorite commercial from the 1990-1991 season titled “The Speech” from United Airlines. This will provide context for what I’m about to share with you.

This was one of the first uses of the “shaky-cam” style of TV commercials, but that’s not what I’m going to discuss today. It’s one of the finest representations of what the sales and marketing world will no longer look like. However, it does have it’s rival in Warren Buffett’s rather ubiquitous quotation, “You will never see eye-to-eye if you never meet face-to-face.”

Gone in the blink of a…pandemic.

What the marketing world is missing is the vaccine that will allow it to move forward with efficiency, efficacy and energy. As the futurists predict our brave new world through their Aldous Huxley looking-glass, from a sales and marketing perspective, they should be looking to the past and reveling in the relevant words of the great Latin American author, Eduardo Galiano, who expertly said, “History never really says goodbye. History says, ‘See you later.’”

And I say, “Good to see you again.”

Now, back to the vax.

In the age of social distancing, or just plain being distant, the antidote is personalization. It is not newfangled technological gimmickry that actually distances humans from each other by using machines as intermediaries and devices as dependents. It’s forward to the past, ladies and gents, so climb into my DeLorean and I’ll show you the way to the one dimensional.

Here are the five, one-dimensional steps you can take, from simplest to more enigmatic, in enacting personalization into your sales and marketing.

  1. Don’t Send Any Eblasts unless they’re using personalization. I get it, not everyone has their lists queue-up by first and last names, but whenever possible, use the first name in the salutation and again at the beginning of your last sentence.
  2. Do Send A Letter, but only if you know how to write one. Letters are trending now and recipients can’t wait to tear into them. They’re starved for something to read, particularly if it’s about them. Now, if you don’t know how to write the perfect business correspondence, here are three essentials. Spend 75% of your time on the first sentence, 15% on the last sentence making certain those two sentences are somewhat aligned. And then, when you’re finished, read it frontward and backward; if it makes sense in both directions, you will have drafted perfection. In the past, I’ve made my creative writing students write their short stories forward and backwards; if you can pull it off, you’ll be a writer’s writer.
  3. Do Send A Thank You Card, not just when you receive a gesture or object of goodwill, but anytime, all the time, every time. Begin to thank people for their business, their loyalty, their acts of humanity that didn’t go unnoticed, or thank them for being a stand-up human; they’ll feel the same about you in return.
  4. Don’t Send Any Direct Mail unless it’s variable which basically means personalized. I know, what’s old is new again, and what’s new is old again. That’s because Generation Z and younger Millennials don’t even know what variable database printing is, or was, but play nice when you tell them that all direct mail now needs to be VDP.
  5. Do Attend Trade Shows, but not in person until we have a better handle on that which plagues us. Look, I’m bummed. In September, I was planning on attending a trade show at the Mascone Center in San Francisco, my favorite city. That’s a no-go. In October, it was a show in Orlando, that won’t happen either. And in November, it was a show at the  Javits Center in New York, my second favorite city; that’s a non-starter, but here’s a starter. We’re working on a project making our one-dimensional trade show booth clickable, delectable, and invincible. If you have the resources, design your trade show booth and link to pop-ups and videos from different places in your display. But this isn’t just for submissions to virtual shows, you can host your own trade show for one person or the masses. And here’s a novelty; send personalized eblasts promoting the event, send a personalized letter as an invitation, hit your prospect again with a VDP direct mail piece, and send them a Thank You card for attending or clicking on various parts of your display.

And now, I’d like to leave you with a bonus sixth personalization recommendation. Do not use QR Codes, just don’t, not everything that’s old is new again.

Tom Marks is a sales and marketing thought leader, speaker and author. He has written Of Socrates, Plato & Aristotle: How Thought Leadership Drives Stronger Sales, Marketing and Corporate Ethics. He is also the creator of The 21st Century Disciplines of Market Leadership. Tom is the President of TMA+Peritus and a 66 time winner of the American Advertising Awards, he can be reached at