People-based marketing? Wait, isn’t all marketing based on the concept of … you know, people?

The term does make you think.

Traditional marketing was aimed at target audiences. It reduced humans to a fact or two and classified groups based on that information. “Hey, women, have this ad about women’s shoes.”

As marketing grew more sophisticated, an audience might become defined by several characteristics. “Hey, 40-44-year-old women who live in Atlanta and like to golf, here’s an ad about a sale on golf shoes from a store near you.”

Marketing is guesswork, and the guesses are as educated as we can make them. The eventual logical evolution of that: people-based marketing. When we can narrow our guesswork so we can actually reach specific human beings individually – that’s people-based marketing.

Digital data has made targeting vastly easier than in generations past. I just tested the above audience on Facebook – and learned that there are about 13,000 40-44-year-old female golfers in the Atlanta area. It took under a minute. A decade ago, that would have been vastly more difficult.

I mention Facebook not only because they make it easy for advertisers to target fairly specific audiences, but also because they’ve popularized the term “people-based marketing” – and it makes sense that they would have, because they’re at the vanguard of the need to take the next step.

You need not only to be able to target with specificity. You also need to be able to trust the data about that person – and, you need to be able to see them across platforms. Take our golfer … how confident are we that her age and location are accurate? On what are we basing our guess that she likes golf? And it’s great if we can reach her on her desktop browser at work, but what happens when she uses her phone, her tablet, or her laptop? Moreover, can we connect those touchpoints to the real person walking into, say, CVS?

Can we do all this? The short answer is yes: increasingly, today, we can. The capabilities, tools, and partnerships we have access to make people-based marketing possible. When you take our golfer, and think about the rest of her life – the parts that relate to pharma – you can understand why that’s so important.

Perhaps she’s a physician. Perhaps she’s pregnant. Perhaps she has Blue Cross insurance. Perhaps all of the above. Take a moment to consider the many ways being able to understand all of that would be valuable to your brand.

Of course, before we do anything, we must ensure that her privacy is protected. But then, we need to put all of this to good use. Once you’re able to make your marketing communications extremely precise … you have to make your marketing communications extremely precise. If you address her with the same message as everyone else, the process was meaningless.

But this level of understanding and personalization is the new normal. Our customers receive it from CPG brands and are growing to expect it from healthcare brands as well. We must follow, and connect with, our customers, not as part of a segment or profile, but as actual individuals. Across devices, online and off, wherever they go. We need to understand them, and our connection with them needs to demonstrate that understanding.

To learn more about how people-based marketing can help your brand, contact your Intouch team. And, for further reading, check out these links:

People-Based Marketing: Thinking People-First Planning and Measurement
WTF Is People-Based Marketing?