• Building Your 1:1 Marketing Playbook

    by Gavin Garrison | Feb 16, 2018

    One-to-one marketing, personalization, segmentation, hypertargeting, consumer-first marketing—whatever it’s called, the goals of nearly every marketing strategy are virtually the same: to understand customers as individuals, reach them on their terms, and communicate in a way that makes them feel like they are interacting one-to-one with your brand and its products and services.

    How is it done? As a consultant and a marketer, I’ve heard clients ask that same question over the last 24 years. It was an important one back in the 1990s and remains relevant in 2018.

    It Starts and Ends with Data

    Today, we have terabytes of data on customers and the tech stack to support it. This includes data management platforms (DMPs) to manage data and help with audience planning and segmentation; marketing automation to facilitate engagement, split testing platforms to optimize creative, and so much more.

    The challenge now isn’t “not enough,” but rather “too much.” How do you make sense of the data you have, use it effectively to improve the context and relevancy of your messages, and then collect more data in order to evaluate which are effective, and ultimately allow you to iterate on and advance your marketing efforts? All the while determining which platforms you really need?

    One-to-one marketing is a fairly advanced digital marketing technique, which is why doing it well is still elusive for enterprises small and large. The first step is to develop a roadmap and start to chip away at it to create a more detailed understanding of your customers. I advise thinking of customer data in buckets, which includes:

    • Demographics: the basics like age, gender, employment status, job role, and income
    • Location: where they live or work
    • Lifestyle: a summary view of their personal preferences and choices
    • Behavior: how they interact with your brand and why they choose to consume when they do

    Marketing Playbook Graphic

    The goal of your frontend segmentation is to be as detailed as possible within each bucket, and then combine your buckets to create detailed customer personas. Marketing to a new mom working in a major metropolitan area who values trendy fashion should be different than the 64-year-old retiree in Kansas who looks for discounts. Segmentation will get you there, and developing and deploying a personalized message platform will help you execute your strategy.

    Conversation Leads to Conversion

    Think about the last time you worked with a salesperson in real life. Maybe it was buying a car or a house, or shopping for a new snow blower at a home improvement store. Part of your buying decision was likely based on the expertise of the salesperson and his or her ability to make you feel confident that you were making the right choice. If they accosted you as you walked through the door and tried to force the product on you that they wanted to sell instead of the one that actually met your needs, you’d turn around and leave as quickly as you could.

    For most people, a better experience includes a conversation with that salesperson. If that interaction with the salesperson ended with you buying something, odds are that they asked what you needed and listened to your responses, thereby matching your preferences with the product that best fits your goals.

    This is why you segment your audience. Just because the interaction happens digitally instead of in-person doesn’t make the conversation any less important. In fact, that back-and-forth, aided by data and segmentation, is even more important in virtual environments where you don’t have the benefit of reading a customer’s reactions. It’s the conversation that ultimately moves your customers through the funnel and leads to the conversion, not just a campaign.

    Creating the Playbook

    Effective segmentation can be a challenge. You’ll need to work with data to create your customer personas, create a customer journey map that captures the details of each step in the customer lifecycle, build an effective marketing strategy and campaigns to reach them, choreograph all of the channels where you may reach them, and then capture the data again to redefine your customers even more. It’s how you answer the who, what, when, where, and why associated with your customers. And it’s how you go from obscurity to awareness and from cold lead to new customer.

    It’s worth noting that working with data and building an effective segmentation plan requires the expertise of data scientists and database marketers—it’s not an appropriate fit for the intern you decided to conveniently repurpose for your playbook.

    The clients I’ve worked with who have been the most effective at marketing segmentation all have a playbook in place. It’s not necessarily something you can find online; there is generally no template for it. It’s unique to your business and your customers. That playbook should be a living, breathing document that evolves with you, the people buying your products, and the ever-changing marketplace.

    As the outspoken Jason Kelce of the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles recently said, “It’s the whole team, it’s the whole team!” I’d challenge you to think about your own marketing as a team approach. It’s an enterprise-wide effort with the playbook at the center; leading you on the road to victory.

    To learn more about building your 1:1 marketing playbook, please contact the Branding and Marketing Division to start the conversation.

  • Making Web Content Accessible to People with Disabilities

    by Gavin Garrison | Apr 17, 2013

    making web content ADA compliant

    No one
    thinks twice when they see a wheelchair access ramp to a building. Stoplights have audible “walk” signals for the visually impaired. ATMs have braille type next to the keypads. The last presidential inauguration speech included a sign language interpreter following the president word for word. Virtually every television comes equipped with a closed-caption option. So what about making online content optimized for people with disabilities?

    Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to those with disabilities. Generally speaking, Section 508 requires agencies to give employees and members of the public who have disabilities access to information comparable to the access available to others. Nothing in Section 508 requires private web sites to comply, unless they are receiving federal funds or are under contract with a federal agency.

    The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”) was modeled after the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, but it is a separate law with separate requirements. Title III of the ADA outlaws discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of “public accommodation.” Till now, courts have generally held that the ADA cannot be applied to activities on the Internet. That may change.

    While neither the ADA nor Section 508 currently requires that private companies optimize online content for people with disabilities, more and more companies are doing so voluntarily. Why? Here are a couple reasons for you to consider:

    Marketing and PR

    Treating all customers fairly isn’t just a nice thing to do — its message can carry a lot of PR weight, especially when your business is the first organization in your industry to voluntarily meet the accessibility requirements of the ADA and Section 508. Private entity compliance with ADA and Section 508 accessibility standards also provides a compelling PR opportunity to tell the public a human-interest story that both builds and strengthens customer relationships.


    What is considered a “public accommodation”? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interprets a “public accommodation” as a private entity that owns, operates, or leases restaurants, hotels, offices, stores, parks, schools, libraries, and other such places. The broader meaning for “public accommodation” is any place that has public access. The increasing move, especially in the financial industry, away from physical locations and towards e-commerce, particularly when coupled with marketing that touts the ease of online transactions and encouraging customers to increase their online interactions, means that this debate will only intensify.

    Compliance with the ADA and Section 508 isn’t easy. Making electronic information accessible to those with disabilities involves fine-tuning interactive information with specific best-practice design and coding methodologies that work hand-in-hand with content navigation tools for those individuals. Information needs to include coded recognition for screen readers, mouse-free adaptability, tagged page navigation, advanced scrolling…and a lot more. Achieving full compliance also involves carefully choreographing IT, web design, and web development for a unified, optimized output.

    Some companies have formed special teams to try to tackle optimizing content. But for most companies, this is a larger task than they can handle internally. Trellist works with companies, including leading financial institutions, to make their content ADA- and Section 508-compliant for a variety of reasons–PR, legal, or maybe they just feel like it’s the right thing to do.

    If you’d like to learn more about optimizing your content for people with disabilities, follow us on twitter @trellist , or connect with us via

  • Brevity Remains Best

    by Gavin Garrison | May 12, 2011
    If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter blog post. That’s my twist on a famous quote credited to everyone from Mark Twain to Voltaire (replace “blog post” with “letter” for the original version). Regardless of who actually said it, the idea is sublimely important. It does require more effort to write fewer words. Although this may be counter-intuitive to most,  it’s well understood by wordsmiths. Word economy takes skill and extra effort for the writer, but equates to less work for the audience. A succinct message tends to be more effective – especially if the selected words still make the point. This has been our observation after years of creating and analyzing multi-channel direct response campaigns. Distilling your message to the essence and avoiding redundancy works best. Moreover, the results from our campaigns continually prove it. So take the extra time to optimize your message. It’s worth it. Make sure every word has meaning and value. This is critical if you’re targeting the highly-coveted mass affluent market as we do for financial clients. Skip the filler unless it’s key to tone. In doing so, your audience is more likely to consider your point. Plus, you might even persuade your target to take action!

Insights posts by: Gavin Garrison

Gavin Garrison
Responsible for marketing strategies that touch millions of customers worldwide every year, Gavin is on the forefront of fintech innovation and oversees activities related to Trellist's financial services client base.