Much to my delight, I managed to run the Shakespeare Half Marathon on Sunday which was held in the beautiful town of Stratford-upon-Avon and its surrounding villages. As I was running along the 13.1-mile course, trying to distract myself from the increasing pain in my feet, I noticed something interesting occurring. A small group of middle aged ladies ahead of me were receiving some sterling support from the crowds. Over the sound of my headphones pumping out my running tunes, I heard yells of ‘go Sarah’ and ‘come on Beth, you can do it’ which were coming from supporters who had gathered along the roadside. My first thoughts were – ‘oh, that’s nice, these ladies must be local to the area and these supporters must be friends, family or colleagues’, however as I got a little closer I realised that I was wrong. They had simply personalized their running vests by carefully ironing their names onto the front. It was this that was enabling the crowds to give these ladies this fantastic level of personal support. It was the power of personalization hard at work!

From my firm position several meters behind these ladies, I observed that every time they got a personal shout out, their running form visibly improved, and they often uttered a breathy ‘thank you’ in response. Having strangers shouting in support of these women was actually boosting their running endeavours! It was having a far bigger impact on their performance than the polite claps that I received were having on mine, and in most cases it was reciprocal! As a result, I made a mental note to customise myself a running vest for my next half marathon as it’s obviously a cracking way to be lifted by the crowd and to therefore improve your time. (That’s if I’m crazy enough to sign up for another one).

Personalized Merchandise

When I finally crossed the finish line after 2 hours and 28 minutes of gruelling running, I gave myself some time to refuel and get a quick sports massage. Then I ventured around some of the stands at the event. Interestingly there was a merchandise stand that was selling running vests with the names of every single runner printed in tiny font and the marketing material said ‘Can you spot your name?’ This of course meant than many runners stopped to find their tiny name hidden on the vest and the drive to purchase was dramatically heightened. In fact, a friend of mine bought one as she was so chuffed to see her name included in the official event merchandise.

Implementing Personalization in Your Business

All this got me thinking about the very powerful nature of personalization! From the ladies who beamed as they received personalized shouts of support from strangers, through to the merchandise the event was selling, one thing’s clear – personalization encourages increased engagement levels! And typically speaking, increased positive engagement levels lead to an increased level of sales. So why not take my running anecdote and apply it to your business model! Start thinking about how and where can you implement customization to your business offering. The obvious starting place for this is to look at the data you already have about your customers and potential customers. What do you know about them and what could be customized in a way that would garner your brand a positive breathy ‘thank you’?