Business leaders need to address their personalisation knowledge gap

At this point, personalisation is a term that’s been uttered at every conference, in every white paper, and every investment deck.

It’s a tantalising prospect, one in which data blends seamlessly into the customer journey, making every touch point seem tailor-made and, well… personal.

Once businesses get into the nitty-gritty of making personalisation work, however, it becomes clear exactly how much knowledge is required.

What at first seems like a fun challenge quickly becomes an insurmountable task filled with far more questions than answers. We know we should be getting on top of our data and making personalisation work, and yet, a huge knowledge gap often remains.

Lack of education, talent, and rapid advances in technology mean that many businesses are two, three, or ten steps behind where they could and should be in personalisation.

It’s not like this is a shiny new concept: personalisation has been on marketer’s minds since as far back as the 1980s (Database marketing: Past, present, and future)

There’s no easy fix, especially for those just starting out on their personalisation journey – but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, or businesses should defer to their competitors.

Instead, marketers and business leaders should carefully consider three distinct ways to grow their personalisation prowess: recruit, retrain, and outsource.

Each method has its own pros and cons, and might not be the right answer for every business, but without at least one of these strategies in action, the industry’s knowledge gap will remain.

Recruit with personalisation in mind

A business’s ability to recruit the best talent depends on a wide range of factors, from salary to work culture to how well-respected your brand is in the wider industry.

Tech unicorns like Canva and Atlassian have no trouble recruiting the very best, but not every brand has the same pull. This isn’t just because your brand isn’t ‘cool’ enough to attract the very best, it’s because the very best want to work with people who speak their language.

If your business doesn’t have data and customer journey processes in place, then it’s going to be a challenge to persuade talent to jump ship and take a chance on your business.

The trick is to remove as many internal barriers as possible, and ensure the entire leadership team understands the value of investing in personalisation. If you can set up the conditions for success ahead of time, then you’ll be far more likely to attract and retain the industry’s best.

Grow your knowledge internally

Another great option for addressing your personalisation knowledge gap is to strengthen the skills of your existing team members.

These team members already know your business, understand where the gaps lie, and once trained, should be able to better identify areas for improvement.

However, in order to get your team members to the point where they can make these decisions, they will need to be given the tools, time, and resources to get there.

It will take some time before the return on investment is proven. In order to get there, management must understand and respect the time and space your team will need to learn.

Supplement with specialists

The final option is to supplement your existing team with external specialists who are highly trained in the world of personalisation.

This solution generally provides the best time to value ratio, since external agencies and consultants know what to look for and where.

Finding the right partner can often be a challenge. In order to make an external personalisation partner work, your internal team needs to have a lot of trust – and this in itself can take time.

External partners will also add an extra cost to the already high investment required to make personalisation work. But on the plus side, you’ll be investing in a deep breadth of experience gained from working with a wide range of businesses.

Whatever path businesses choose to take towards personalisation, the most important task is to find advocates who are excited to champion personalisation internally. The benefits that personalisation brings to the customer experience outweighs the challenges of getting there.

James Wawne is the Managing Director & Principal Consultant ANZ at DMPG – Digital Experience Enablement. James has over 15 years of experience in consulting spanning the full spectrum of research methods, tools and techniques with a strong orientation towards data analytics, innovative technology, and digital transformation to drive profitable growth in client organisations.