No one wants to be a number. But there’s no better way to make those around you feel like one than by applying the same treatment to everyone across the board. Nope, individualization is in and it’s no longer a trend but an expectation thanks to companies like Netflix and Amazon. Through companies making suggestions based on past behavior, customers have now become accustomed to this level of service and knowledge of their preferences.

But “you might also like” suggestions aren’t the only places you should be using personalization and preferences in your business. Implementing them in the following areas will help you better connect with people and help them self-identify your business as one they want to support.

Communications
I am not a fan of phone calls. I have the luxury of working for myself and organizing my own day. My day is very full with writing and researching. An unplanned call derails me. Your customers may feel the same way. Or they may love calls and hate reading long emails.

Allow your customers to decide how they want to hear from you and on what topics. Do they want emails on discounts and texts on flash sales? Maybe they don’t want your newsletter but want coupons. Give them the option to make a selection. Allowing them to choose their favorite kind of communication will increase your open rate because they’re receiving it in a format they like and only the information that is valuable to them.

On the other hand, if you just serve up business communications the same way to everyone, you’ll annoy many subscribers and they may opt out just because they find it tiresome.

Media
Hopefully, you’re using some form of content marketing or producing valuable resources for the things your audience finds interesting. A natural inclination for content producers–thanks to search engines unquenching needs–is to produce written content. And that is important. But your audience may also like video or podcasts. They may like step-by-step visual depictions or graphics.

You can poll them to find out their preference or create resources in all major forms of media and track what gets the most attention and interaction. This information may vary by platform. For instance, video may be your most popular kind of post to Facebook but long articles may be a favorite on your website. Speaking of…

Content Length
I have clients who hate to read. Maybe you are nodding your head. Maybe you too are a bullet pointer. Maybe your audience isn’t. In order for your customers to find value in your content, it has to be in a media form they enjoy (see above) and a length they’re willing to explore.

There’s a change we’re seeing in written content these days. Articles are becoming lengthier. While it’s still necessary to make it skimmable, search engines and people are looking more for definitive guides on subjects. They don’t want to spend hours researching. They want everything they need to know on the topic in an organized guide. This isn’t hard to produce. For instance, if you’re a CPA and you’re creating content for your audience, you may have created dozens of blog posts over the years on best practices for small business. You’ve likely penned blog posts on smart planning steps, tax deductions no one uses but should, and a million other helpful bits.

Take those and stitch them together into the Definitive Tax Guide for Small Business: 200+ Tax Tips You Didn’t Know You Needed. Your audience should love it and so will Google. Then take each of those tax tips and use them in image quotes on social media. That way people who love lengthy pieces have what they need and those who want bullet points get what they want too.

Employee Gifts and Contributions
Finally, when thinking about your business, don’t forget the needs and desires of your employees. If you’re giving employee gifts or bonuses, remember employees don’t all find value in the same thing. Some people love money, others don’t like the taxes they could be paying on sizeable bonuses. Some like gift cards, others feel like that shows them they’re only worth $25. Allowing them to select how they are rewarded goes a long way to making them feel appreciated.

Many companies are also donating money or employee time through volunteering to charities. If you do this, consider allowing employees to choose how the money is directed or which organizations receive the benefit of their time. It will mean more to them and they’ll be more passionate about the results.

Personalization is no longer a trend but an expectation. Implementing it is a way of connecting and building know, like, and trust. The best way to embrace personalization is by researching and asking those closest to your business what their preferences are. But be aware, if you do, you need to be ready to implement them. No one wants to be asked their opinion just to receive a pat response in return.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.