I’m a Person, Not a Persona

3 min

I’m a Person, Not a Persona

The past decade has ushered in a new era of marketing automation, sales and customer service tools. Marketing technology solutions alone grew by 27% in 2018 to almost 7,000 platforms. (Checkout the Marketing Technology Supergraphic. It’s bonkers.)

The concept of automation isn’t new. During the industrial revolution, “automation” took the form of a manufacturing system. The goal of the manufacturing system was to make things faster, cheaper and at scale. Sound familiar? That’s because they are the same basic goals that drive SaaS solutions in 2019.

But here’s the challenge. Most automation solutions make intelligent assumptions about customer personas and behavior. In general, they cater to the averages. Unfortunately, the typical automation solution fails to take into account all of the nuances of human behavior that define business and life.

As Seth Godin stated in a recent podcast, “The paradox is that businesses strive to automate, but people want to be treated as special, with unique needs...businesses automate to meet the needs of the average customer, but no one is average.”

The reliance on automation, especially as it relates to sales, marketing and customer service, can be a slippery slope.

On one hand, marketing software allows the business to stay connected to a massive number of prospects and nurture those relationships over long periods of time. Staying top-of-mind, creating value, and monitoring who is engaged has obvious benefits for the business.

But what about all of the prospects that aren’t engaged? What’s the impact of continuous email, week after week, day after day, to a prospect who hasn’t “unsubscribed” but has tuned you out?

There is an argument to be made for both sides, to be sure. But for me, I think the fundamental question is this. In our efforts to automate and gain efficiencies, have we removed the heart from communications?

In its most simplistic form, I believe the best communications evoke emotion. I believe that connecting with people in a deeply human, personal, and emotional way is why people buy.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the allure of automation tools and believe they have a place in the communications mix. But as a consumer, don’t treat me like a “persona,” treat me like a “person.” It’s a nuance that makes all the difference.