Jared Blank knows a thing or two about the power of personalizing marketing messages. As Bluecore’s Senior Vice President of Data Analysis and Insights, he helps businesses enhance their marketing with data from hundreds of retail brands. He’s also been the Vice President of E-Commerce at Tommy Hilfiger and the Chief Marketing Officer for DealNews. He spoke at the Curalate Summit on October 18, offering some next-level marketing strategies.

Blank says many brands go about marketing in a less-than-effective way — they focus on the “what” instead of the “who.”

Here are “what” statements brands might use for email marketing:

  • “We’re going to send out an email about sweaters.”
  • “We have a promotion for a 40% off coupon.”
  • “Let’s send an email about our new store opening.”

There’s a better way, Blank argues. Focus on who you are marketing to — not what product or service you are marketing. For example, if your goal is to create a personal connection with your customers, you need to know who your customers are and what they care about. And you might choose email as your channel because it’s arguably the most personal medium. You’ll tell customers only what they really want to hear about, and you’ll craft digestible emails because readers prefer them.

TheSkimm strikes a chord

For an example of marketing done right, check out email news digest theSkimm. Instead of starting with the “what” (the need for an email news digest), TheSkimm started with the “who”: millennial women. According to the New York Times, founders Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin conceived the idea after seeing their friends struggle to keep up with the news. Unfortunately, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook weren’t adequate solutions.

The founders knew exactly who they were speaking to, and they correctly identified that email — and fun, snarky writing — was the best way to reach their audience. With the wrong strategy, theSkimm could’ve gotten lost in the sea of countless email news digests out there. Instead, it boasts millions of subscribers worldwide and has attracted the likes of Oprah, Chelsea Handler, and former Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff.

Succeeding with ‘who’ marketing

Blank challenged the audience to ask themselves the following questions. He says it’s a good way to get started with customer-focused marketing:

  • Who’s the target market?
  • What’s the best marketing strategy to go after them?
  • Where are we going to deploy our marketing?
  • What’s the message going to be?

While you’re answering these questions, think about how you can restructure your organization to think about the “who” in a more streamlined way. Maybe you can have more conversations within your organization about why starting with “who” matters. Or break down silos within your company by inviting different teams into brainstorming meetings.

Change might come slowly, and that’s okay. The important thing is to spark “the beginning of a conversation,” Blank says — “and it’s baby steps from there.”

If you couldn’t make the Curalate Summit on October 18, don’t worry! We’ve got recaps on the Curalate blog. Check out these stories: