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.

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