3 Tips You Should Use to Master Personalization

This post is based on a podcast with Matt Heinz. If you’d like to listen to the full episode, you can check it out here and below!

When it comes to digital messaging, generalization won’t cut it. 

Most people believe that copying and pasting facts into a generalized personalization format is the quickest and most efficient route to personalization.

But if your contact never messages back, is it really such an effective method?

Obviously, the answer is no.

But you may be wondering, “What’s the alternative?”

In a recent interview Matt Heinz, the President of Heinz Marketing, that question was answered.

He covered everything from:

  1. What personalization is not
  2. How you can personalize better
  3. Why personalization is worth talking about

By the end of this post, you’ll have learned the secret to consistently crafting truly personalized messages in as little as 30 seconds.

But before you can craft that message, we must go over what not to do.

What Personalization is Not

A lot of people fall prey to the lure of generalized personalization.

Matt was explaining that such a method is not only inefficient, but it’s also not even personal.

Consider the hypothetical example he gave to explain this point. Imagine that someone sent him a generalized message that read as either:

“I see you’re President of Heinz Marketing.”


“I really like what you’re doing at Heinz Marketing.”

Both might appear to be personal at first glance because a company position or name is mentioned.

But that’s not the case.

In both examples, value isn’t being added, and therefore, they’re not really personalized.

Unfortunately, most people end up crafting messages like these. They do so in a well-meaning way, but the problem is that they come across, at best, as disingenuous.

Lucky for us, Matt explained that it doesn’t take that much time to truly personalize a message.

Tips & Tricks to Personalize Better

The 3 x 3 Method

Matt explained one way you can personalize better is through the ‘3 x 3 method’, which he learned years prior from Steve Richard.

In a nutshell, the 3 x 3 represents finding ‘3’ things about someone you find interesting in up to ‘3’ minutes.

Matt went on to say that, “Quite frankly, it should only take around 30 seconds.”

This should be enough reason to give the 3 x 3 a try when it comes time to write your next message.

But even if you don’t, it should be noted that we are no longer of the days where general messages work – if they ever even really did.

Regardless, the bar is set far higher than ever before. It’s time to toss the “go-to” scripted prose of, “I’ve seen your profile and I want to build my network, I’d love to connect with you.”

Instead, you could say something like, “I just heard you speak at XYZ conference. I thought your talk was fantastic and I’d love to connect to learn more from you.”

Of course, in some cases, it may be hard to find details to frame a message around.

Don’t worry – just do a little “social media soul searching”.

‘Social Media Soul Searching’

When it comes to finding information, it all starts with understanding what and where to look for.

For example, a lot of people scroll to the bottom of a person’s LinkedIn profile, searching for where they went to school.

For a lot of us, we went to school 10, 20 and even up to … dare I say it… 30 years ago. Whatever connection was there before might not apply as much.

So obviously, depending on the person you’re trying to reach out to, in a majority of cases including a school connection shouldn’t be the topic of conversation.  

Luckily, there are other ways of finding personal information.

Matt says that one of his favorite methods is to scroll down to the often-forgotten bottom of LinkedIn profiles. You’ll be able to see:

  • The non-profit organizations with which they are involved 
  • Achievements
  • Any other groups with which they associate 

Another great method is to search other platforms like Twitter.

Often times if you go to someone’s Twitter page, even if they are tweeting mostly about business, they have facts you can use hidden in their bio.

It may say something like, ‘dog lover’, pizza eater, cocktail aficionado, etc.

Even if it’s just one of those things, it’s something to key in on.

Imagine that it’s something as seemingly absurd as “I have chickens.”

What that means for you is that it’s something they are proud of. It’s something they want to talk about. It’s something they won’t question as to how you figured out that personal fact, because it’s public information.

In other words, if they put it in a bio and its public knowledge, its fair game.

On the other hand, it would be wrong if you messaged them and said, “How did your son/daughter do at the recital last night?” There’s always a line that should be drawn.

But in order to know where to draw such a line in the sand, consider Matt’s next tip.

Remember to be Human

Hopefully, it’s clear at this point that it doesn’t necessarily take more time to construct a personalized message in this manner, as opposed to the generalized method.

However, starting off is easier said than done and you may be wondering how to start.

Matt suggests to, “Take the time to find something a little different; something a little unique about the person, and just act like a human.”

The point to be highlighted here is the phrase, “just act like a human.”

A key to personalization is to treat messages like any other human-to-human interaction. This goes beyond just LinkedIn messages. It also applies to emails, voicemails, and practically anything digital.

As you write a message, ask yourself:

  1. ‘Does it make you sound like a robot?’ If so, scrap it. 
  2. ‘Would you actually speak to someone?’

With reference to the hypothetical message from earlier, could you imagine seeing Matt in person and saying, “Hey, I see you’re the president of Heinz Marketing…”.

As disastrous as that may be, intuitively we know that it would be socially awkward.

If you don’t, that might just be a story for another day.

But, the problem arises when we try to personalize a message digitally because at times we all have the tendency to get way too into our heads.

With that said, here’s another of Matt’s tips.

Even if you feel that what you have to say doesn’t hold any value, sometimes the value is that it’s an icebreaker.

In other words, it’s the banter that lets you warm up the conversation to later pivot to something else.

As you get started on your next personalization project and you’re struggling to determine how you should phrase things in a way that produces a successful response, remember Matt’s words:

“When the rubber meets the road, everything always becomes more casual, it always becomes more intimate, it always becomes more personalized.”

Personalization at Its Finest

Matt explained that one of his favorite examples was at the end of an email that someone sent him.

The email was sent by a copywriter looking to work for some of Matt’s clients. At the bottom of the message, it read in the P.S., “Hey, I’m going to be in Seattle in August and I love pizza. Where should I go?”

Matt responded to her email in saying, “How do you not respond to that?”

It wasn’t necessarily personalized. It wasn’t even about Matt.

But to him, it was different. It was unique. As he said, “It was her version of talking about the weather.” She wanted to talk about pizza instead and as we all know, food is the way to a lot of people’s hearts.

In conclusion, whatever the case may be for you when personalizing just remember:

“When the rubber meets the road, everything always becomes more casual, it always becomes more intimate, it always becomes more personalized.”