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Mymuesli, a breakfast cereals brand headquartered in Passau, Germany, is the first food brand to use mass customization effectively.

What is muesli? Muesli is a breakfast and brunch dish based on raw rolled oats and other ingredients like grains. The company put its unique spin on the food to make it “yours.”

The brand still owns its niche as a custom breakfast cereal provider and is positioned uniquely within the marketplace because of its commitment to personalization. Mymuesli Director of Marketing, Daniel Setzermann, recently discussed how the company was created and how it matured around a commitment to delivering personalized experiences.

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Setzermann outlined nine lessons he’s learned on how to successfully implement a customized marketing approach during his time at Mymuesli.

1. Everything starts with a story

What’s your story?

The idea for Mymuseli was born after the founders heard a bad commercial for cereal more than ten years ago.

Every company needs a story, he says, regardless of whether it’s about the roots of the brand’s inception or the values it stands for. And part of a marketer’s job is to convey that story in the way that makes most sense for the audience.

As my favorite marketing guru Robert Rose says, “It’s your story. Tell it well.”

2. You don’t need a complex setup process

When it began doing business, Mymuesli used only tupperware (the team didn’t even have a computer). The fulfillment center was simple and modest to begin with, but it worked.

You don’t need a complex process right off the bat. You just need a revolutionary idea.

The most important thing is simply getting the machine up and going, and getting started.

3. People love customized products (but hate to customize)

Through qualitative research, Mymuesli’s team quickly realized that people sought customization, but the majority of them really didn’t want to actually do the customization work themselves.

Custom products are everywhere — you can personalize your shoes, cars, and subs at your local sandwich shop.

In order to make it possible for customers personalize their cereal — but without making them work too much for it — Mymuesli created a ‘generate random name’ for your Muesli concoction to allow customization without complication. It’s become the most clicked button on Mymuesli.

Mymuesli

Mymuesli allows for 566 quadrillion possible mixes of cereal. With all those possibilities, it’s important to make the process easy and simple.

Mymuesli

4. It’s the small things

“When you focus on your customer and not your ERP system, you start to think about the little things you can we improve for the customer,” Setzermann said.

The small things matter. Little things sometimes make the biggest difference!

5. Emotion drives action

You need to be emotionally-invested to get customers going.

“Names are really important,” Setzermann said. “People love the sound of their name.”

With that in mind, Setzermann team had an idea to do some work for “birthday automation” — specifically, to automate the creation and sending of videos.

After looking at data, the team found an astonishing fact: by taking only 92 names out of all the names in their database (0.25% of all contacts), they were able to reach 50% of the database.

(If you haven’t yet watched the video above of Daniel’s presentation, now would be the time to do so! Jump to 12:00 into the video to see Daniel tell this story.)

These personalized birthday videos were not a new idea, per se, but they worked to maintain a relationship… leading into the next point.

6. Don’t mess up your relationship

Relationships are the most important thing we have with our customers. Sometimes, even the simplest gestures or projects that put customers at the core can make a difference.

For example, Mymuesli created a commemorative limited edition product package with the faces of 827 true fans of the brand. The goal here was to celebrate Mymuesli fans and show the world that it loves the people who love their product.

Setzermann is a believer in Kevin Kelly’s concept of striving for 1,000 true fans, and said that customers are just waiting to become brand evangelists and even influencers if you treat them right.

Think about your database; there are people truly in love with you brand. What creative ways can you show them – and the rest of the world – that you appreciate their loyalty?

7. Authenticity is hard work

Many brands once hid behind ads and fancy marketing ploys aimed to persuade and manipulate.

Today, the tide has turned, and authenticity has become incredibly important. You have so many social outlets at your disposal to communicate (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) with potential customers/influencers/employees. Use them to responsibly remain authentic.

Influencers are one viable option to authentically extend your message. They already have built a following that relies on them and trusts them. Authenticity is their lifeblood — if you can work with influencers in your niche, you can increase authenticity.

8. Let the data guide, but use your gut to decide

Use data to help with quantitative projects like incentives and forecasting. However, data isn’t always the answer to everything. Mymuesli’s top-grossing products haven’t come from historical data sets. They have come from innovative and creative ideas – and from truly knowing their customers.

9. Make it personal

Lastly, you can create personalized incentives for inactive customers, personalized birthday gifts, and “thank yous” for top-performing customers. Sometimes personalization means personally thanking customers, but it’s always about going above and beyond what’s expected.