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The Human Connect: Building your Brand with Human-to-Human (H2H) Marketing

The Human Connect: Building your Brand with Human-to-Human (H2H) Marketing
Shimona Chadha - Sr. Director and Head of Marketing: TME, RCPG, LSH & Professional Services | July 9, 2018
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We may live in the age of the constantly refreshing, hyper-personalized newsfeed, but marketers are slowly realizing the worth of Maya Angelou’s words, “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Ask any organization about their marketing focus and they’ll be quick to choose from the traditional B2B or B2C binary. They will probably go on to explain how they use a data-driven, tech-laden approach to lead generation and nurturing.

But increasingly, businesses are witnessing that this approach to marketing, where consumers are treated as aggregations of data that need to be converted into leads and then into paying and loyal customers, is not as effective as they might have hoped. In our effort to justify budgets and show engagement data, have we lost sight of our goal i.e., winning over actual customers? How many of these leads actually convert? The research indicates a dismally low number.

By not acknowledging the human behind the data, businesses are struggling to have meaningful conversations with customers that translate to actual growth. Customers are less likely to give their business to a faceless and impersonal brand.

Technology allows brands to deploy an omnichannel approach to customer targeting. But your brand message flashing across every device and platform that your customer uses isn’t enough to create a ‘cared for’ feel. Martech solutions may offer a wide range of sparkly tools, but can have a deeply depersonalizing effect on customers. Moreover, thanks to recent highly publicized data breaches, customers are becoming suspicious of the ways in which brands use their behavioral data.

Because ultimately, brand loyalty is as much an emotional response as it is a practical one. Human-to-human interactions create a sense of partnership and camaraderie between brands and customers that technology simply cannot replicate. Transitioning from traditional marketing, H2H marketing is a strategy to cut through the deafening noise of the digital world and help marketers forge deep connections at a human level.

Empathetic Engagement

Profits are important, but the heart of a business lies in its ability to consistently generate positive consumer sentiment. It is real humans, rather than martech tools, that will make the decision to buy your products or services. So, how can businesses rethink, realign, and encourage real, human connections, and execute the shift from conventional marketing to H2H marketing? They can start with a few easy fixes.

Listen Actively

When your business representatives communicate with prospects or existing customers, ensure that they listen to them and note their feedback and pain points, as much as they pitch to them. Unlike conventional marketing, H2H marketing needs company representatives to pay attention to the intricate details of these one-to-one interactions and ask questions that will help serve customers better. These conversations can indicate critical cues that can help make your business more appealing.

When we actively and sincerely listen to customers, they feel less like a sales target. Based on how we make them feel and how we respond to them, they make key decisions about our brand, which turn leads into customers and customers into brand advocates.

Show your Appreciation

Many organizations successfully woo key clients with personalized tokens of their appreciation, from season tickets to a sport of their choice, VIP passes to concerts, or even offers to facilitate and submit award nominations.

Organizations that take a personal interest in the well-being of their customers can count on their continued loyalty and engagement. It’s easy and often prudent to automate your processes but organizations would be wise to not allow their engagement initiatives to become mechanical and mindless.

Don’t Make a Pitch, Tell a Story

We all relate to real-life experiences. Hollywood makes billions of dollars based on this simple premise. Storytelling is a deeply ingrained human habit and helps us connect to other people and establish intimate connections. Organizations can use storytelling to communicate with customers in a way that’s engaging and entertaining. They can use lucid communication and build compelling narratives that people can deeply relate to. This can be a great way to nurture a human connection into a mutually rewarding relationship.

While making the move from traditional marketing, brands can indulge in conversational storytelling by incorporating social media into their strategies. Several brands have used fictional characters or mascots to great success. These mascots are usually highly appealing to a wide-range of cultural sensibilities.

Regardless of the method, effective storytelling can help your brand broadcast its message and ethos to consumers in a way that stays in their memory for a long time.

Metrics Matter, but People Matter More

Consumers today expect businesses to cater to their interests but they also demand to be treated as individuals. Moving past a traditional marketing mindset into an H2H one requires brands to reach out with individualized, humanized, value-added content based on their tracking of customer conversations and journeys, instead of the ‘batch-and-blast’ approach. They need to have dialogues with their target audience, on social media, forums, or chat. These two-way conversations need to be in real time and with real people as today’s consumers look for transparency and responsiveness from brands.

Future-Ready: Humanize your Brand

If you can convince your customers that your overarching business objective is to meet their needs, then you have cracked H2H marketing.

In an age of advanced data analytics, the core needs of human beings remain the same. Shifting from traditional marketing, brands need to transform themselves into pathfinders for people looking to solve their problems. People look to the brands they do business with to become trusted advisors who have their best interests at heart. If you can convince your customers that your overarching business objective is to meet their needs, then you have cracked H2H marketing.

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