If you’re like a lot of marketers, you’re guilty of looking at your business through a very narrow lens: and that is you’re labeling the relationship between your brand and customers as either B2B or B2C. This kind of labeling has been effective for decades, but times are changing, and so are the wants and needs of consumers.
Today’s consumers don’t want to be sold to. They instead want personalized service and messaging. They want their favorite brands to know them. And not as a “target persona” but as a real human being with hopes and dreams, problems and emotions.
How Technology Has Hurt Marketing
To look at most articles or blog posts about technology, you would think that AI, machine learning and automation tools are doing nothing but helping society become more efficient. And while it’s true that technology has made communication easier and faster, it hasn’t always made it better.
The truth is, while technology allows for automation, and marketers love automation, automation is something that consumers are beginning to hate. And that’s because they are getting sick and tired of “communicating” with chatbots and automated messaging. Most people these days have a hankering for good, ol’ fashioned authentic, human interactions.
A report by the voice platform Usabilla called “In the Age of Automation, Customers Want More Human, Less Machine,” found that consumers don’t want technology to replace humans. According to the study’s findings, when faced with a phone tree, 73% of consumers skip the maze and press “0” to be connected to an actual human being.
When these participants were asked why they chose a human over a chatbot, the top reason given by 43% of the respondents was, “I want to connect with a real human who can understand my problem."
So while more and more brands are trying to serve their customers with these new dazzling technology services, their customers just want to interact with people.
At the end of the day, what does this mean for marketers? It means we need to understand that people don’t want to be seen as a “C” or a “B” – they want to be known as an “H” – that is a human being and they want to interact with other Hs. B2B and B2C marketing is an antiquated idea - H2H marketing is the future.
How to Get Started with H2H Marketing
It’s time to start focusing less on automating your messaging and focusing more on having authentic interactions with your customers and prospects. In order to deliver personalized experiences that add value at each touchpoint, there are some rules you’ll need to follow:
Know Your Customer
As I mentioned earlier, your customers want to really be known and understood by you. While that may seem like a tall order to fill, all it really takes is a different mindset.
Instead of researching customer personas to mine demographic data, invest some time into thinking about the humans you are serving. Be a bit more emotional with your research. Beyond age, income and zip code, think about WHO you are serving. HOW can you help? WHAT do they need or want? WHY are they currently stuck or suffering?
The bottom line is, H2H marketing requires you to walk a bit in your customers’ shoes so you can understand them as human beings.
The other half of the H2H equation is your brand. Once you begin to see your customers as human beings, you’ve got to also recognize and put forth your own humanity. Yes, you are a brand, a company. But you are made up of human beings.
Humanizing your brand creates a culture of authenticity. There is no secret strategy to being more human. Be real. Be transparent. Care.
Tell More Stories
Your customers don’t want marketing messages that seem as if they were generated by machines. They want to be moved by your messaging. If you can make your audience feel something, you have a much better chance at making them a customer for life.
As best you can, use your marketing in a way that doesn’t sell to people, but tells them a story that inspires them to want to know more about what you offer. For many brands, this can mean using thoughtful imaging that creates an emotional response in the ad viewer.
These are just a few ways you can begin to shift your mindset to become an H2H marketer. By thinking of your customers and your own brand in a whole new way, you will naturally give your audience what they desire, and this will boost your bottom line automatically. And that’s automation to get excited about!