One of the hottest topics in today’s fluid media and marketing morass is personalization — creating experiences defined by a person’s behavior, or desired outcomes, or stated preferences. Yet, so many of us still use the term “user” far too often. It’s wrong — and dangerous for brands and agencies.
I just watched another series of video cast studies, these from Adobe (here) that feature how T-Mobile, MTV Networks, and Martha Stewart Living created cool implementations of Adobe products and services. Nice pieces. But “user” is used all over the place by people who sound like experienced and savvy product, creative, strategy, and brand leaders to describe or define people, consumers, customers, individuals, or even simple human behaviors.
Forrester’s Josh Bernoff wrote about why the term “user” is risky years ago. He was right in 2007. Moreso today, however, because digital tools and analytics suites, among other techniques, have progressed so far. The ability to obtain, synthesize, and exploit digital data to construct profiles specific to individual people is no longer an insurmountable problem. It’s actually a point of brand differentiation leaders are using to distance themselves from competition. He who truly knows their customer — and calls her by her name — will likely win her loyalty.