The latest marketing buzz phrase is “behavioral targeting.” This means that marketers have collected all types of data on people, including you, and are delivering specific messages to specific individuals.
The most obvious place we experience this is online. Visit a web site devoted to cooking, and you’ll see cooking ads. Don’t be surprised if cooking ads then pop up when you’re visiting your local newspaper’s site. They were watching.
Behavioral targeting isn’t limited to the Internet. Direct mailers are already using this technique, and magazines, TV and other media aren’t far behind. Before too long, the commercial you, the cooking hobbyist, see while watching American Idol may be different from the commercial your teenage son sees on the set in his bedroom.
There’s another type of behavioral targeting as well. This skill has been all but forgotten, though it’s the most powerful force in the world. I call it behavioral marketing unplugged.
Dale Carnegie, in his classic book How To Win Friends And Influence People, wrote “Talk to a man about himself, and he will listen for hours.” (I think that goes for women, too.) People are fascinating. They all have a story that they love to tell to anyone who cares. Sadly, however, today there are few who take the time to show they care.
The person who develops a sincere interest in those around him accomplishes a great deal. It lifts the spirits of fellow humans, eases their burdens, and makes the world a better place. It’s also enjoyable, educational, and a whole lot of fun.
And completely as a by-product – not by any means the main focus – truly caring for people often results in increased business. That’s because people do business with those they like… and people really like those who care about them.
The key is being genuine. Gold diggers are obvious from miles away. But it’s so easy to be genuinely interested in others, because others are so genuinely interesting!
Before there were tracking cookies on the web and massive computers following purchase habits, there was the art of paying attention to those around us. It might be good to plug into that once again.