My Pispective on Personalization

(A pi-spective is where you write about something using 314 words)

What is this thing called ‘personalization’?

‘-Ization’ is the process of doing or making something. So is personalization the process of making a person? No: it is the marketing process of tailoring something for a specific person.

But marketers also encourages us to create a ‘persona’ for our customers. A persona is an outward expression of personality. And ‘personality’ is the quality of being a person.

The original sense of ‘person’ was of a mask. So is ‘personalization’ the process of making masks? That seems about right.

I spend much of my time keeping track of buzzwords, jargon and abstractions. With the idea that they most definitely do not belong in the vocabulary of the modern management professional.

So who are we making masks as we personalize? For our customers is a common response. Which is fine enough I suppose.

Unless you’re in the public sector or an internal service unit. Because a customer is characterized by the ability to choose not to purchase. Which doesn’t apply to those two business types.

A customer in the general sense is someone you have dealings with. In the modern business world money needn’t change hands for someone to be deemed a ‘customer’.

So just like ‘persona’, ‘customer’ is an abstraction that sits between us and the individual we are dealing with. All this comes down to questions of identity.

The original sense of ‘identity’ was oneness. My identity is my unique, indivisible self. But when I go online I am served up a slew of personalized options based on my customer profile.

Depending on the device, it would appear from my different Google results that I don’t have an identity. All this is a problem for the modern management professional. When we can’t separate identity from customer persona’s, we can’t connect as people.

And, because all business is people business, I won’t know who you are.

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