The importance of not forgetting your buyers are real people

Top tips on how to bring humans into your B2B marketing.

It’s so tempting to talk about tech – be it IoT, Botnets, cloud, AI – as it’s all very cool. We see lots of examples of where the marketing story is very technical, and that’s fine if you understand it. But more than often we are talking to C-level or senior technical people, who know the principles and buzz words, but can’t necessarily make the connections between the tech and what it makes possible; how it saves lives, how it protects the environment, how it enables people to serve customers better. It’s all about real life people.

Plus, when all is said and done, even when we are selling businesses, the most complex innovation, we are still just talking to humans. Humans who have lives outside of work, humans who have aspirations, passions, dislikes and values – all things that consciously or subconsciously, affect their decisions and behaviours.

It’s interesting to look at some of the marketing classics such as Kotler who said:

  • Marketing 1:0 – was about product-centric marketing
  • Marketing 2:0 – was about customer-centric marketing
  • Marketing 3:0 – was about human-centric marketing

In human-centric marketing, marketers approach customers as humans – minds, hearts and spirit and this is where it touches ABM and profiling. But it’s not just about functional needs but also emotional needs, addressing anxieties and desires. A great starting point is to listen deeply to clients with empathy and immersive research. This could be looking at online communities such as CSO’s or cyber communities.

We hear lots of businesses say that they do customer-centric marketing, but not many do human-centric – the reality is that much of it is really product-centric and paying lip service to customer-centric. So, what do you need to do about it?

  1. Be clear who you are aiming your content and campaigns at – the more granular the better.
  2. Be clear on who you are targeting; their characteristics, their pains, their wants and desires. Do your research.
  3. The closer to the message to the target audience’s pains, both functional and emotional, the better.

We’ve worked on a project recently that has really brought the power of this to life. It was great because these clients had a clear view on what they wanted, and were willing to try something new. We were looking at workplace technology – we hardly talked about technology at all. It was all about the individual’s happiness at work. We still made the important connections to the product, but we brought it to life with stories. It was a great balance between human-centric and product-centric.

Think about: Firstly, always make sure you are clear on who you are talking to and put yourself in their shoes. This is a great leveler and enables you to sanity check if your content is slipping back into being product-centric. Then, take it to the human level. Really get under the skin of what is happening for your targets – both work and personally. This will instinctively shift you to a new level of conversation that is more relevant and appealing to customers.

Hilary Salzman
Director & Head of Value Proposition Development

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