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Welcome to the H2H era. The human to human era where the recipe for success lies in our ability to identify the needs and understand the mindsets of our customers instead of the old ‘have I got a deal for you’ tactics.

One of the most common questions I get asked after delivering presentations on anything to do with marketing is “what is the difference between B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) marketing”.

Which means if I’m a business how can I market my products or services to other businesses rather than to consumers. In fairness this is a valid question as a lot of marketing advice and tactics are focussed on getting messages out to consumers. My argument doesn’t normally come as too much of a shock to my audiences as I’ve normally spent 30 mins before had talking about human centred marketing.

The response is this…… marketing now needs to unwind itself from theories of interruption and spruiking wears. We are no longer in the soap box era of come check out this latest gadget that will set your hair on fire.

An old pic of a soap box

Instead we are in an era where this has been done to death and frankly as humans, we are sick of being told what’s great about a product. We have grown up in the consumer age where this is all we’ve heard and quite frankly as a society we’re over it.

When managing my own marketing team back in the day I’d often hear it said, “everyone thinks they’re an expert when it comes to marketing.” Often this came after a big unveiling of the next campaign or promotion that promised to deliver big results. At the conclusion of any unveiling what often happened was the marketer was left standing at the front of the room putting their hard work on a silver platter only for the rest of the team to pick, poke and tear it apart. Then if that wasn’t enough, they’re asked to go back to the kitchen and drench it in tomato sauce.

Why… well often the marketing team works in isolation and they work with external creative teams who never come in contact with a customer. They then set upon their campaigns like its secret squirrels’ business. When the final unveiling happens it often lands as a surprise to teams who feel they are the ones accountable to hit the targets and the feedback is that this isn’t the support they had in mind or it simply won’t hit the mark.

I watched this many times and have experienced it myself, but I always impart my view which is that ‘everyone IS an expert in marketing’. This is for so many reasons. In a workplace often marketing is often the last step and is necessary for launch instead of being involved from the get-go. Everyone should be on the same page of the same book, in the same library.

In a wider picture we’ve all grown up in the consumer era where products promise outstanding results, tourism promises the trip of a life time, investing will get you the life of your dreams and unfortunately marketing has done a good job in making all of this look convincing. So now we look through the too good to be true promotional offer. We look for the truth, we seek out reviews, we talk to people to find recommendations because nobody wants to be caught out.

That bigger picture view is what led me to the conclusion its not B2B or B2C but human to human? What I mean is that the principles of successful marketing are the same. If what we are offering fulfils a need (a genuine need, not one dreamed up on a whiteboard) and we have an authentic offering with a positive experience and genuine marketing message then success is imminent.

Businesses are made up of people making decisions every day. So whilst the social platform might change or the time of day you post what we need is to look beyond tactics. How are we meeting a persons need. Does it really matter if they are in an office behind a desk or at the grocery store? A need is a need. If we dedicate our time to uncovering more about our customers and get into their shoes to uncover WHY they buy, what they need to buy or how they want to buy then this pays off in the long run.

“The premise of human-to-human marketing is one human buying from another. It taps into the human psyche and helps you form a broader and more complete form of marketing that can exceed almost any other form.”

Sarah Davies

So here’s some quick tips on how you can start embracing the human to human era.

Key tips

Define reality

So many times we get carried away with our own ego’s when someone comes up with an idea in a meeting we hit the white board and we all spend the next 30 mins convincing ourselves why this will work. Of course this is often in isolation from society, trends, the market, adjacent markets, competitors, company culture, short and long term plans. So take it from the whiteboard and get out there. Get a team together to tear the idea apart then build it back up again. Talk to some experts, talk to some customers. Just talk!  

Harness the horse power your in your stable

Before you go out and start marketing and outsourcing to creatives challenge the team inside your organisation to validate so called ‘whiteboard idea’. Get some data, historical evidence, and most importantly some analysis of what problem you’re solving.

Get the opinions of your sales or service delivery team. This data may not be quantitative, but you’ll find quality insights from teams in the thick of it. In other words, people directly connected to who you are trying to sell to. Three words collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.

Ok, ok I know its one word repeat 3 times, but you get the message. It’s important.

Don’t forget to say thank you

Look at your post-purchase experience. What can you do to amplify the positive experience you’ve just provided and better yet ask how else you can help. Many organisations will step away from the post experience analysis but this is such a valuable way to unlock opportunities for future business growth, future relationship building and future referral.

The post-purchase feedback will be the key conversation that will unlock all the opportunities you can improve on for you future customers experiences. Then rinse and repeat.

Conversion rate optimisation, Pay per click, omnichannel, evergreen content, referral marketing, digital marketing, responsive design, call to action, search engine optimisation, lifecycles, inbound, chat bots, sales enablement, lead scoring, content creation, social media schedules, boosts, sales funnels, affiliate marketing, organic reach and ………………….. bbr-eathe.  

The way we communicate (or market) to potential customers certainly isn’t as clear cut as it used to be. We’ve reached new heights in complexity. The bad news is, we are nowhere near the peak and instead we’re more likely to be just at base camp. As the most informed yet distracted consumers that ever existed our focus will only continue to decentralise from the one or two major social media sites to many, many more. As marketers this makes reaching your customers in a timely and cost-efficient manner well, tricky. Not impossible, just trickier, more involved and more demanding of creative new approaches.

Then there is the widening chasm between marketing teams and leaders of organisations. KPI’s for marketing teams demand that we are across all the analytics and every metric we can get our hands on. We can often report these in the most polished spreadsheet and presentation fit for any global audience but what does it all mean, really? We need to make this relevant and this is where at times some teams can struggle. Leaders don’t have time to delve into detail and that’s all that the marketing team know how to provide. This is where as marketers we need the ability to be able to simplify our explanations of what we do and almost act as interpreters for ourselves. We need to constantly question our statement with so what? We increased our reach by 34%… yadda yadda yadda. So what? What result did we have in new customer activity and perceptions?

Make it relevant

Relevant to our business development teams who need insights to make sales. Relevant to our R&D teams to provide clear focus. Relevant to the leaders of the organisations who need to know the big picture and how it relates to their role and influence in the industry.

Most of all what we do, needs to be relevant to customers. We need to analyse the information and go one step further. How about we ….. ok wait for it. Talk to our customers, face to face. Talk to them about their journey why they used you, how they found you, why you and not someone else. Will they come back? Ask why or why not?

Let’s not fear the connection customer centricity brings. It’s the one thing that will give us a breakthrough moment and a better result. Let’s start testing what we put out there and stop making our communications polished one-way messages that we hope they read and understand.

The best brands in the world spends thousands researching how to be relevant and they don’t always hit the mark, but they go to the extra effort to understand their consumers and the reactions of their initiatives.

What I’m suggesting is we start testing small and connect with a customer to gain feedback. We could go the extra mile to co-design if we have a significant project. That’s a whole other blog ;o)

Customer Focus

Customer profiling and journey mapping are now well known in the digital marketing space and it’s a great way of aligning the design of our website and structure of our sales funnel and even knowing the language to use. Here’s my pursuit… let’s take these initiatives off-line. Let’s take this energy, focus and time and look at our entire organisation.

Look at the core problem we are solving for our customers and how well coordinated and aligned our services are to their expectations and needs. You’ll find some of the solutions lie with marketing, but some might not be. What a customer journey mapping session will do is highlight the changes and improvements you can make to keep your organisation true to its brand promise.

Break free of assumptions

We (as marketers) don’t know everything, and we never will from behind a screen. We can analyse the data we can make assumptions we can identify trends we can predict. Heck we can do a lot with data. I love data but I only love it from the insights we gain from it. Without insights and the ability to apply them they are just numbers.

The best marketing comes from authenticity, an ability to connect and heck even a sense of vulnerability. Let’s stop pretending we are the guru who knows it all and instead take the time to talk to a customer. Open our minds and let’s be more curious about why they make the decisions they make. Break down the barriers and let’s get to know our customer. They will help us unlock how to attract more people like them. Without customers innovation, disruption and all things termed success are impossible.  

Hey this is Liv, thanks for taking the time to read my article. I created Liv By Design to help organisations connect with their customers and empower them to create their own marketing strategies.

Digital is important, social is important and we often jump to these tactical solutions to gain new customers without taking the time to really identify and understand your customer and their needs. If you start your marketing strategy with your customer, you’ll have a more refined idea of who you are targeting and the best methods. This will cut your marketing costs and help you stand out amongst the crowd of brands that are grasping for audience attention.

At Liv By Design I ensure the process is simple, developing a marketing strategy in line with all the other conventions of your organisation like culture, customer experience and customer service.

Not sure if you are tackling your marketing, right? Maybe you’re a busy marketing team who just don’t have time to connect with customers? Give me a call I’m always here to offer obligation free advice.