9 min read time
There’s no doubt, the world of B2B marketing is starting to shift. With advancements in technologies and the need to stand out above the crowd, B2B buyers are expecting more from us marketers than ever before, so the time has come to approach lead generation in a different way. Humanization offers us the chance to let our brand stand out as an individual, cut through the noise and help prospects get excited about who we are, and what we do. Ensuring our marketing ventures to seem genuinely human-orientated seems like an enormous feat, especially knowing how much we rely on technology and machines to conduct digital marketing- but I assure you, these 10 pointers will help you achieve that “human touch” in your search for new business leads!
1) Listen to your customers
This is the perfect place to start when looking to stand out and humanize your B2B marketing approach. There’s no better source of information for research than your own clients- so listen to them! Whether you choose to run a survey about what marketing they find most exciting/helpful/memorable, or collate a library of their criticisms and suggestions for further discussion, your client voice is invaluable. Prove to them you’re listening and you really care about what they have to say. This not only gives you plenty of informative initiatives to benefit your lead generation strategies, it also helps your clients become big fans of your brand, which hugely benefits both retention/up-sell, and new business recommendations.
2) Understand buyer behavior
We’re all keen to get our buyer personas in check; they’re of vital importance to a humanized marketing approach, but more importantly, they need to be efficiently and properly used. Centralizing your marketing around being human is not based on knowing how many kids your ideal buyer has, it’s based on understanding how we as people behave, and what our human priorities are, as well as business. As humans we have naturally short attention spans, especially for marketing campaigns; add this to the stresses of being a business decision-maker, and you can see how vital it is to have a marketing approach that is short, sweet and impactful.
Think of these human tendencies, and add them to your buyer persona’s business needs to truly understand buyer behavior, and create marketing that appeals to human nature, as well as business intuition.
3) Prioritize integrity and credibility
Forget spamming people with endless emails and phone calls- this is human marketing, and successful lead generation doesn’t come that easy. At the forefront of every marketing venture should be integrity and credibility, ensuring your brand is easily trustworthy and honest. If you’re sent a text by a friend who has let you down before and abused your trust, you instantly read that text with a negative outlook. Say they ask you out to dinner, you’ll be hesitant to accept, but if you receive the same invitation from someone you trust fully, you’ll say yes in a flash!
The same goes for marketing, don’t let people see your campaigns in a tainted light. If you tell your audience a little white lie, or cut a few corners, it will come back to bite you later when you see that your brand has lost all credibility and integrity. Make a list of everything that makes your product and brand different, exciting and helpful, no matter how small, and use these to create a positive buzz around all that you do.
4) Sort your data
This is an easy one to forget, but data is essential to running a marketing strategy focused on bringing the human touch. Automation is used often to personalize communications, and we’ve seen the success this can have. Cleverly phrased copy mixed with individual data such as name and business industry can give a true sense of genuine, human communication, however this relies heavily on the accuracy and quality of data.
If automation is on your list of 2018 to-dos, then check through your data, and audit it regularly. An incorrectly spelt name can be the difference between appearing human, or appearing like a spam-machine, so get it right every time! This also goes ways to help that all important credibility. Set up a plan for a regular data audit and stick to it, especially when data contributes so heavily to your marketing campaigns.
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5) Don’t sell a product, promote an idea
As we focus on approaching B2B marketing from a new, human outlook, we need to look at everything a little differently. Drawing guidance from our B2C cousins, brands are able to bring a very human touch to their marketing campaigns by putting focus on sharing easily relatable ideas instead of just selling a product. Look at all the Christmas adverts on TV- large retailers tell stories of love, giving and sharing, with messages we can all understand that get the emotions going. It’s not until the very end we discover the brand sharing the message, but once we know who it is, we always remember. I bet we can all think of a TV advert that really hit-home for us, and recall who made it, even though it didn’t directly sell us a specific product.
Use this knowledge to humanize your marketing. Sharing a thought or an idea is powerful, especially if it’s one many people face on a daily basis. Return to the core reason your product exists and build marketing from the ideas that started your business.
6) Market human-to-human
When wanting to bring a human touch, remember to just be human! This sounds obvious, but it’s so easily forgotten. Use human language communicating with prospects the same way you would colleagues; after you’ve written something, read it back and imagine saying it to your director in a meeting- would you feel silly doing it? If so, it’s not human. This is especially prominent on social media- it’s so easy to make posts look automated, scheduled or fake, so just take a step back and be you; sign your initials at the end of tweets, post about your colleagues birthdays, share local charity fundraisers. It really can be as easy as just being yourself!
Top Tip: To help the human-to-human interaction, try telling stories instead of using statistics. Stats have their place of course, and many enjoy a few quick-fire facts, but recent studies show that after business presentations, only 5% of attendees remember stats, but almost 70% remember stories!
7) Remember word-of-mouth
Never underestimate what goes on outside of your marketing bubble- people will always talk about your business, whether you like it or not! Returning lightly to our first point about listening to customers, take this mentality forward when looking to word-of-mouth (or as I recently saw it referenced- word-of
-mouse!). We all engage in word-of-mouth recommendations, we look at customer reviews before ordering a take away, and ask around before booking a holiday. The bigger the investment, the more we seek assurance - and in B2B, we’re not even spending our own money! We know his is a part of human behavior- so appear human by responding to it appropriately.
Whatever campaign you send out, no matter how big or small, bear in mind what people will say about it, and what it says about you. Word-of-mouth spreads, and once it’s started you can’t stop it or change it, and those who try often come off worse! So make sure there’s no reason for negative word of mouth anywhere.
8) Look at your home life
We know how important it is to understand buyer behavior when curating a human marketing approach for lead generation, and a great way to gain further understanding of this is by looking at ourselves, and how we discover new brands and products when away from work. We all use our mobile avidly, but how do you search for products you need? And what do you research when looking to make a large investment, such as a new laptop or phone? Though you do this absentmindedly, it’s one of the best insights to human behavior you can get! Notice every time you see a marketing campaign, and you react to it- even the ones you ignore. Get your team involved too, and soon you’ll all see patterns in human behavior you can utilize to make stronger, better marketing strategies.
9) Be a great employer
You have an incredible marketing power right in front of you! Your employees are the perfect brand advocates with enormous influence, more than even they know. However, this will only be the case if they fully believe in your brand, what you do and that you are genuinely helpful to other businesses. Happy employees make happy customers, its proven fact, so be a great organization to work for!
Don’t just focus on throwing money at this venture however (though it may help!), ensure your team are always motivated and listened to. Keep them in the loop with product news and developments, and always be transparent. This proves to everyone working with you that you’re a human brand, so they’ll find it the easiest thing to share with the wider world too!
10) Be unexpected
It’s an undeniably brilliant way to appear human- do something no one expects! Whether it’s simply tweeting about how much you love Fridays, or sending your entire customer base a valentine, we all love happy surprises, big or small, and more importantly- so does social media!
If you conduct a public marketing stunt, you’ll gain attention and people will hear about it (especially if you’re giving away something for free!), and if no one expects it from you, it’s even better. So get your thinking caps on, and look to how you can be unpredictable and exciting. At the end of the day, it’s what makes us people- we can make impulsive decisions to do something wild and fun- machines can’t really do that…
As we start the second half of 2018, now’s the perfect time to look at your B2B marketing strategy, and shake up the norm. Great lead generation comes from great strategy, but sometimes we spend so much time overcomplicating everything, which seems silly when we know that human-to-human works. It always has, and always will. Use these 10 tips to understand humanization in marketing, and approach your audience in a new way so they can see you as passionate people solving their business problems.
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