I am not a dataset. I‘m not just a customer. I don’t want to be targeted. I want to be understood and treated like a nuanced, unpredictable, imprecise human being. And I love creative, relevant and engaging marketing messages (especially on Rocketseed-branded emails) if they treat me that way. So, in a world of ever-more precise targeting and data overload, I want a more “Fuzzy Marketing” feeling.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking at the lively ‘Fuzzy Marketing’ panel discussion at the Direct Marketing Association’s recent Customer Engagement event and here’s my personal 10-point take on ‘Fuzzy Marketing’
1 – What makes it ‘fuzzy’?
‘Fuzzy’ marketing seems to mean different things to different people. To me ‘fuzzy marketing’ is about applying the principles of fuzzy logic to marketing decisions. Not necessarily in a detailed statistical way, but in a way that enables us to look beyond data-overload and precision-targeting and to re-engage with the marketing opportunities presented by more subtly segmenting customers and never losing sight of marketing’s nuanced human context.
2 – So there’s ‘Fuzzy Logic’ behind it
I’m no logician or statistician, but rather than classical logic’s binary absolutes – yes/no, true/false, 1/0 – fuzzy logic finds a coefficient somewhere on the scale – shades of grey, not black or white. It sounds less precise, but are we, as customers, really precise, predefined and predictable?
3 – So, in marketing terms…
As a customer, I want to be treated like a real person rather than being wholly identified with a certain market segment and defined by my signal data. Just because I bought something last weekend doesn’t mean I might want to buy it again next weekend. Fuzzy marketing should take into account ‘to what degree’ I belong in certain different segments and target me with messages that engage me emotionally, not simply defining my lifestyle by the ‘yes and no’s’ of my past behaviour.
4 – Distorted by Data overload
Whilst data-driven marketing was designed to simplify the complexities of the real world in so doing it distorts that reality and in this digitally-distorted reality there’s a danger that not only are signal data-driven messages often inappropriate but also that all kinds of ‘human’ marketing opportunities are being missed.
5 – Keep It Creative
If we focus too much on purely what we can measure, we may not do the things that truly drive results. Data overload can stifle creativity, both in marketing strategy formulation and in the marketing communications themselves – the very creativity that piques our interest, that gets us enthused and ultimately engaged, even if we can’t explain why.
6 – It’s All About Engagement
Engagement itself might sound ‘fuzzy’ but – as we know at Rocketseed – it’s the key measure of online marketing success, however you chose to measure it – from website and social traffic to sales leads and service ratings. Engaging, relevant content is key and whilst my past behaviour as a customer can direct that, I don’t want it to define it. Engage me emotionally because that’s how I often make buying decisions.
7 – Don’t Deprive Me of Discovery
As a customer, I know I’ll often repeat past behaviour but I’m not always predictable. I want to try new things, go out of my comfort zone and be impulsive. “Fuzzy Marketing” realises this and knows I can be engaged occasionally by marketing messages that give me a sense of discovery.
8 – Keep focused on the customer
It’s tempting to be technology-driven – to crunch all the data simply because you can – and ‘Fuzzy Marketing’ doesn’t mean any less focus on the customer. In fact it means being more customer-centric because, in addition to all the data, it needs to factor in the ‘human factor’ and treat the customer as a real person.
9 – Good Fuzzy vs. Bad Fuzzy
‘Fuzzy’ isn’t an excuse to be vague and ill-defined in your marketing – that type of ‘fuzzy’ is bad for decision-making. Good ‘Fuzzy’ simply means being sensitive to reality, to marketing’s human context and how these shape decisions.
10 – The “Fuzzy Marketing” Challenge
Making “Fuzzy Marketing” happen in a meaningful way – well, that’s a real challenge.
Rocketseed’s email branding campaigns of banners and signatures allow ultra-precise targeting and tracking, yet because we brand clients’ everyday business email, there is always a human element to every email, something that is lacking from bulk marketing email.
Perhaps ‘fuzzy marketing’ is a good way of making us stop and think about what, as marketers, we’ve gained but also what we’re in danger of overlooking. We’ve gained the ability to know so much about individual customers that we can target ever-more precisely but maybe we need to be more aware of the importance of marketing’s real human context, customers ‘human’ nuances and the importance of creativity and emotional engagement.
As a customer, perhaps ‘fuzzy marketing’ can make me feel human again – and that’s engaging in itself!