Quantum Physics, Subatomic Particles, Einstein, and Your Marketing Plan

October 24, 2018

By Antonella Bonanni

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Subatomic particles can become entangled or united in such a way that they co-exist, interact, and influence each other yet remain physically separated by vast expanses of space. Known as quantum entanglement, this occurrence is important to quantum computing research and also has a place in marketing.

According to Live Science, "In quantum physics, entangled particles remain connected so that actions performed on one affect the other, even when separated by great distances." In marketing, entanglement becomes the optimal business/customer relationship where neither party owns the connection but, rather, has the opportunity to positively or negatively influence the bond that brings them together.

When done right, it's called "entangled marketing."

To be clear, this is not the intrusive, negative side to marketing and advertising that takes advantage of the ability to serve ads or certain content on any device at any time by invading the user's space with unwanted, unnecessary, and useless information. Instead, an entangled relationship between a brand and a consumer is more like a friendship. It has give and take. Sometimes there are squabbles or disagreements, but the friendship can survive and even thrive thanks to a trusting bond.

"What you need is a connection to your customer that adds value to something your customer truly values. Personal + relevant + value-added is the winning ticket. It's the kind of intertwined relationship that resists anything anyone may do to shake it," say Stan Rapp and Sebastian Jespersen, who, arguably, invented the entangled marketing concept.

I'm not enamored with business-speak like "value-added," and believe "relationship" is not only more appropriate, but lends itself more to the underlying concept of entangled marketing. To me, it's "personal + relevant + relationship," which makes the difference in building a long-term connection with consumers.

The equation is better stated as: personal + relevant + relationship = meaningful connection. The relationship is critical because just like a relationship with a good friend or family member, one trusts the advice given and puts more stock into recommendations or suggestions. This is much more important than offering a "value-added" service, which is one-sided and presumes the business owns the relationship. Which is far from the truth. No one owns the relationship, which can be terminated by either participant at any time by a mistake. It definitely can be "shaken," if not completely destroyed, by a serious misstep or perceived wrong.

Companies often ask for information from customers — what they like and what they don't, product improvements they might suggest — but more often than not the emails go unread and far too many are never acted upon. When was the last time you emailed a suggestion or complaint to a company and heard anything but crickets? Part of the problem is marketing organizations are scared consumers will do a better job of their jobs. Yet when a meaningful connection is made between an organization and consumer, both benefit. There is no ill-will or malicious intent.

This brings us to the idea of a "meaningful connection." This association is one in which both parties receive something of value from the relationship. And the organization is given the rare opportunity to observe and converse with the customer where she feels most comfortable.

The material may be relevant content or special deals from an organization or new product ideas or corrected information from consumers. Either way, whatever "it" is, it must be something that both groups desire and find valuable. The content or deals can be delivered on any number of devices used by consumers at the time it's most useful and convenient. The information shouldn't be intrusive or forced, but rather should melt effortlessly into the consumer experience.

Albert Einstein famously called particle entanglement "spooky action at a distance" and marketing entanglement is a similarly strange phenomenon. It's sometimes difficult to quantify why it works, but it does. Marketing entanglement is becoming increasingly common each day as we connect over long distances and multiple time zones and devices, thanks to technology, smartphones, and the Internet of Things.

Successful marketing today and in the future is entangled, i.e., personal + relevant + relationship = meaningful connection. Using this equation, everyone involved is better for the experience.


Antonella Bonanni is assistant VP and CMO of Healthcare at Cognizant, a Fortune 200. Antonella has an M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a Masters of Communications from the CUOA in Vicenza, Italy.


The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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