Make It Personal

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"It’s nothing personal, it’s just business."

How many times have you heard that line in your life? How does your life look these days? At minimum, you’re probably working eight hours per day, trying hard to either keep your job or grow your business. Whether you’re an Entrepreneur or running the marketing teams at a major multi-national, here’s a newsflash: business is personal. If any of us are going to be spending any significant amount of time at one company, working with a group of people (both employees and clients), it better be of value and we all better start taking it personally. In the end, 8 hours a day will quickly add up to a huge percentage of our total life.

Social Media is a personal channel and that’s why most businesses fail to embrace and understand the nuances of it.

As much as brands try to open up or claim transparency, the reality is that they are not built in a way that enables them to embrace, engage and capitalize on the many new digital channels and platforms of communication being offered to them because they really don’t know how to be personal. They have many obstacles to overcome to break with that tradition (the bigger the company, the harder it is). They worry about allowing the people that represent them (their employees and stakeholders) to take the lead and have those real interactions between real human beings because companies have never done this before.

Being personal is hard because it requires a business to treat others as equals. 

Yes, business claims to love the philosophy of Social Media. In it’s simplest form, business loves the idea that they can connect to their consumers, have their consumers connect to them, and empower those consumers to connect to one another. Brands are just not used to it. It not only takes a huge leap of faith in terms of changing the creation and flow of messaging, it takes an even bigger leap of faith to believe that if they make things more personal, that they won’t get hurt in the process.

People keep secrets because they are afraid what others might think.

The only real way we’re going to see businesses make it through this dramatic moment in time where mass media is complimented by these many new digital touchpoints that require a whole different skill set for marketers in terms of advertising, communications and public relations, is if those businesses do open up, share their secrets and, ultimately, make everything they do that much more personal.

The question becomes: how quickly can businesses make that shift and are they really willing to make things personal?


  1. I think you are perfectly right (as almost always Mitch) on this issue, thanks for shedding light on it.
    I believe, rather pessimistically, that this change will take a generation.
    Why? 2 reasons :
    A- corporate management has to GET IT for starters, and when they do, they’ll need to GET IT sufficiently to trust their subortinates, peers and superiors on how they’ll handle social media in corporate context. For that to happen, I believe that everyone in place has to actually have passion for their company, product / service and industry.
    B- because not everyone using Social media today GET IT. There is a generation and a half out there that grew up with Tide New & Improved and you just can’t get that out of their head. They’ll use the tools for 1 reason or other, but not truly embrace it until they really get it.
    Invariable, both are the same : you in your corporate life, and you in your personal life.
    Let me be Morpheus for a second here : I can only show you the door, only you can step through it.
    The DOOR in this case is the realisation that this is all YOUR life, all of it (i.e. 1 life not 2). Accept that, and you can take the next step, sharing not just in the personal-side of your life, but in the corporate-side as well.

  2. I got left go from my first job out of college after 13 months when I got a new boss. Those words:
    “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.”
    were said to me… among other things. I think if it was true then you wouldn’t need to say it at all. It’ll be hard for business to make a shift because it’s a culturally as well as a physical change to the company. However, those that do change will be better off come the end of our recession.

  3. Excellent!!! Coming from a music business background you couldn’t be more right!!! It is most definitely personal when it comes to marketing and breaking an independent artist. People want access to the “brand” or the artist, whatever the case may be. They want in depth updates via twitter of everything their favorite musician is doing. New media marketing is all about letting people in and not being afraid of what might be said about you and your brand.

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