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Brands and Marketing in a Human-to-Human Framework

Think about it—they say B2B is gone. Dead. As well as B2C. It’s all been replaced by H2H—human to human. It makes sense. After all, businesses do not form opinions and preferences and make decisions. The people who run them do. They may make them in the best interest of the organization, but a real person with hopes and fears and aspirations and lots of baggage is still the one signing on the dotted line and hoping for favorable outcomes.

There has been a lot of chatter about this subject for what seems like years now and just googling the subject brings up opinions on both sides. Much of the discussion that is out there seems to center on the fact that Social has been the major reason for the shift. Here’s an interesting article from Social Media Today.

This makes sense if you consider that when a company engages in social media, it creates a voice and a personality. Sometimes humorous or witty, sometimes knowledgeable and accessible. In fact, as video increases as the preferred communications channel, you realize that even if a company is ‘talking’ to you in the video, it’s through a spokesPERSON, even if that person is hired talent. (Does that mean this should have been a video blog?)

An interesting excerpt from Marketing Week:

Research shows that brands that take a human approach are better at connecting with consumers and gaining trust. Brands that behave like humans find more favor with consumers, according to research seen exclusively by Marketing Week.

The study, by brand strategy and design firm Lippincott, looks at a societal shift in relationships that requires brands to behave like humans in order to connect with consumers and build trust, called ‘The Human Era’. Working with advertising agency Hill Holliday, it has produced The Human Era Index, derived from an online survey of 5,000 consumers on 300 brands, revealing the leaders across industries and shows the top ten performing brands, including Bose, Yo! Sushi, John Lewis and Disney, among otherstrends-human-era-2014-fullwidth2-1024x387

The key characteristics of human era brands include traits such as being open, honest and even flawed, talking and acting like people, and being exciting and empathetic. Lippincott’s EMEA director Simon Glynn says: “The research demonstrates that the leaders have succeeded by going beyond their marketing and social media strategy; it comes from their culture, how they make decisions and how their employees think and act.”

The research shows that the most successful companies have recognized that ‘fortress behavior’, for example sending emails from ‘no reply’ addresses, is no longer an effective approach to interacting with customers. Consumers crave communication on a human level, which requires a different business model than brands are used to, from a make, sell broadcast model to a create and participate model.

The research suggests that the BBC, car rental service Europcar and the travel guide Lonely Planet are about making, selling and broadcasting, while YouTube, ZipCar and TripAdvisor follow a create and participate model. “People want to buy from brands that are like themselves and therefore will support them,” says Lisa Wood, head of marketing at first direct.

So what are you doing today to connect on a human level with your clients, customers and prospects?



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