Is it possible that the hipsters have got it right? Are ‘real’ interactions what customers really want?

Oh, how we scoffed at their funny craft beers, their wildly expensive artisan sourdough breads and their ‘slow food’ revolutions. But, as I sit and stare at the ever-growing stack of “actual” books by my bedside, I do ponder whether the resurgence of ‘real’ is what we are all craving as an antidote to our digital, and increasingly automated, world?

Working in the technology sector, digitalisation is everywhere we turn. From banking to utilities, healthcare to travel, companies are fast adapting their business models to respond to the growing needs of the digital customer. But hang on a moment – we’re all still the same people, aren’t we? Customers with needs to be met. Yes, we want to do things more efficiently, yes, we want to be able to access all the things we need faster, in whatever way suits our lifestyles but let us not forget ‘people buy from people’.

I recently saw a fantastic ‘Dear John’ break up letter to the advertising community. In this, the creative business leader, Nadya Powell berates her own industry for its over reliance on data – “you just do what she tells you without thinking twice”. She concludes, rather poignantly that data is in need of therapy so she can “learn about people and not just numbers”.

Interestingly a lot of articles that I have read lately about GDPR, are also making a similar observation. With predictions that up to 75% of customer data currently being held will be unusable once the legislation comes into force next year. This creates a great opportunity for businesses to have a fresh start and re-build customer relationships, in a more open and trusted way.

And for us marketeers, this means getting more creative in how we engage customers, and creating much more personalised, targeted campaigns that encourage human interaction in a way that works for everyone – not just going with the majority because it’s the easier thing to do. Quick, low cost and agile digital channels will absolutely be part of this but used at the right times for the right outcomes and in a highly personalised and authentic manner.

What do you think? Is there a place for real alongside digital? What tools and techniques are you seeing in both the B2B and B2C markets which you think are working well? You can get involved at

Hilary Fenn
Marketing & Strategy Director

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