Last weekend, I returned home to find my mother brimming with excitement over a Christmas gift for my sister. She didn’t even stop to point out her new Santa collection (of which, I later learned, she is immoderately proud) before rushing me to her wrapping workshop where she had prominently displayed a Flip video camera in the center of the room. My mom is not the most tech savvy woman in the world, so I admit I was a little surprised at her enthusiasm for a video recorder. But it wasn’t just any Flip camera. Printed across the back was a ridiculous picture of my three siblings and I goofing off. I suddenly understood what my mom’s hype had been all about. It was so much better than a boring white or black video camera: it was customized. [tweetmeme source= “insideview” only_single=false]

This year, Flip video cameras aren’t the only personalized holiday gifts that have popped up. You can customize everything from yoga mats to M&Ms, and according to Gwendolyn Bounds of The Wall Street Journal, “Holiday Me-tailers” are on the rise. In a recent article for WSJ, Bounds expands on the trend towards customizable holiday gifts, concluding that it’s our vanity that drives us to give and desire “me-centric” gifts. But is it such a bad thing to want to tailor everything that can be tailored? At InsideView, we deliver the promise of customizable sales experiences, and it hardly seems vain to call a customer with a personal message instead of a generic one. Is there some comfort in knowing that everyone else has the same version? Or is it some sort of badge of honor to know you’re the only one in the world with your child’s chromosomes enlarged and framed on the mantle?

In her article, Bounds speculates that social media may play a role in our enthusiasm to customize everything: “Social-networking … has helped break down inhibitions about sharing our private lives.” Social media is also the hottest trend in the business world, and as more companies leverage social media in their business models, more professionals are growing comfortable with the idea of exposing aspects of their personal lives to their social business networks. When you allow people to access information about you, you don’t have to waste time deleting useless sales emails and standard marketing automation emails because people can find out whether or not you’re a good prospect before they reach out to you. If you’re in the market for a gift or a product, you can use blogs, customer forums, Twitter profiles, Facebook pages, etc., to zero in on exactly what you want. Social media allows businesses to micro-target their audiences, so shoppers today get hyper-personalized shopping experiences – both as individual consumers, and as professional representatives of their companies. But is there a difference between “customizable” in our personal lives and “customizable” in our professional lives?

Technology has come a long way since the first days of online shopping, and it also plays a huge role in the custom gifting trend. Nike will design a pair of shoes based on the terrain and weather conditions with which you’re accustomed to training. You can customize a shoe without spending and arm and a leg in the same way that cloud computing technologies such as InsideView allow you to tailor your sales experience. Perhaps we can attribute the rise of the customized sales experience to consumers who identify with unique items in their personal lives and expect the same when they go to work.

For now, I plan to keep watch on the custom trend. I have a suspicion that our consumer experiences are closely tied to our professional experiences. As communications in the B2B world become more like interactions between businesses and consumers, I think we will see more and more B2B companies developing customizable products and services. So whether or not you’re going to give M&Ms with your cat’s face printed on them as hostess gifts, it seems that this year, many will have a customizable holiday.

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