Every marketing professional is familiar with B2B and B2C. These terms were created to better categorize and separate marketing tactics in an effort to create specialties. However, with the growth of technology devices and digital assets, and evolution of the consumer’s journey, the line between these two approaches has blurred. It’s blurred so much that we need a new approach to how brands should be interacting with their customers. And it’s called “H2H marketing” or “human to human marketing.”
H2H is based on the understanding that there is a human behind every click, every view, every share and every sale. As brands and marketing professionals, we want to reach real human beings, because that’s who our consumers are. These humans are complex creatures. They are emotional and they make mistakes. They have thoughts and feelings and behaviors and challenges, some of which are directly related to our brands and products, and tons more that aren’t. We can’t always affect these emotions, but we need to understand them if we are truly going to create a connection. Businesses aren’t human, of course, but they are run by humans and it’s essential to put at the forefront of the brand.
H2H marketing is defined by these key aspects:
Know Your Audience
You’ll never make a connection with another human if you don’t know anything about them. It’s the same as friendships and relationships in everyday life. You need to know what their likes and dislikes are, what they do for a living and what their family life is like, what emotional state they’re in, and how they need to be communicated with. Obviously, you can’t know this about every single one of your customers, but you can find commonalities among your audience to create target personas that will help you connect with a broader set of people.
Treat Your Employees Right
If you treat your employees with respect, challenge them and provide the resources and compensation they want and need, they will treat your customers better in the end. Even if the employee’s role is not specifically customer-facing, most talk about their jobs on social media. These messages, whether intentional or not, can have a major impact on how their friends and family view that company. If the employees are happy, they are less likely to post negative comments. And for those that do interact directly with customers, they will be more friendly and helpful when they are satisfied.
Create Great Content
Create content that speaks to your customers as humans, and provides some value to their lives. Maybe it’s creating a really thorough FAQ section, which addresses all the questions, or concerns that customers often have, as ModCloth has done. Maybe it’s creating helpful how-to videos that solve problems or provide helpful tips for everyday issues, like Lowe’s via their YouTube channel. Or maybe it’s posting interesting videos and photos that fascinate and inspire, as GE does with Vine.
Provide Great Customer Service
This is necessary both online and off, but has become even more important with the proliferation of Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels. Respond to customers in a timely manner, and be helpful, genuine and as transparent as possible.
Take Responsibility for Mistakes
Humans make mistakes, whether they work for a business or are a consumer of that business. And when they do, they need to take responsibility for those mistakes. Social media makes it impossible to hide, and a brand will end up looking worse if they deny a mistake or simply ignore it. No matter how big or small, it’s important to own up. DiGiorno did just that a few weeks ago when they posted an insensitive tweet using the hashtag #WhyIStayed, then apologized profusely and explained what happened. It didn’t solve the issue, but did help to recoup some of their positive perception.
Continually Evolve Your Brand & Products
Adapting to the needs and desires of your customer is essential in this increasingly competitive marketplace. When you listen to what your customers have to say, and make improvements based on their feedback, you will not only retain those customers longer, you’ll find new ones based on the great products you offer and your fantastic customer support.
Human to human marketing is a new buzzword, but it’s not a new concept. Knowing your audience and engaging with them on a personal level is what small businesses have been doing for hundreds of years. They understand and embrace this model; in fact, it’s the only way they know how to stay in business. Getting larger brands to buy in and embrace this model is the real challenge, but will be a real benefit when they finally do.