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What does “custom” mean to you?  When somebody tells you that they have a “customized solution” for you?  Do you envision a lot of work?

As the trend continues towards 1-to-1 advertising and personalized messaging, marketers are being given more data about their customers and their customers’ shopping habits every single day.  While there are many large, enterprise-level solutions available through companies like Omniture and IBM, the sheer volume of data can be overwhelming.  Without the ability to use this data, it is essentially rendered useless.

Perfect – you know that your customer is in California and prefers to shop at 7pm on Tuesday evenings.  She’s purchased a pair of shoes and browsed blouses for the past few weeks now, so you know that she’s already a fan of your brand and is interested in adding to her wardrobe.

How do you take advantage of this knowledge?  The right offer, served with the right product, at exactly the right time will close the sale, strengthening her relationship with your brand.

Google calls this the “Zero Moment of Truth”.  It’s the moment when you win the consumer over or your competitor gets the last word in and takes market share from you.

They’ve seen your ads on TV, they’ve visited your website to see your offerings.  Now they’re out in the wild again; searching on the web for reviews, opinions from their favorite celebrities and seeing what their friends are doing or wearing.

But you’re going to get that sale anyway, right?  They’ve bought once, so there’s no need to spend money to advertise to this prospect.  They’ve also been to your site, so they know all about what you sell and your latest products.

Or maybe you rely on email to help keep your prospects and customers informed.  When’s the last time you went through your personal email inbox and selected 10-15 emails for immediate deletion without catching up with the latest sale from Best Buy or Macy’s?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not bashing email, I’m simply encouraging you to take advantage of the rapidly evolving marketing technology around you as part of your media mix.  Display technology has the ability to tie in live geographical, time-of-day, consumer preference, and promotional pricing data automatically for every single prospect within milliseconds.  Forget just showing the actual product for shoppers who get down to the product level or abandon their shopping carts – think bigger than that!

Plug the most recent local store circular into an ad on your prospect’s favorite blog with an invitation to visit the store closest to them with a special offer to purchase that jacket that they’ve been debating on, knowing that they are in your email database and received the new fall lineup announcement last week.  It’s raining there, so to brighten your prospect’s mood, the background image shows a bright sunny day on the ski slopes, rather than a white background with a product feed rotating through.

If that sounds like a lot of work to get customizable ads like this for every single shopper, think again.  With automatic creative rules and the ability to get smarter over time by automatically processing the mounds of consumer behavior data available from your site and around the web, a comprehensive retargeting solution can make all of your ads smarter and, much more importantly, much more efficient.

The customized solution then only needs to be how to maximize remarketing as part of your overall marketing strategy so that the few pennies per customer that you invest closest to the final buying decision become the smartest pennies that you spend in your entire marketing budget.

Let the technology do the work so that all of the money that you spend building your brand doesn’t end up being negated by a well-placed competitor’s ad at the Zero Moment of Truth.