Internet marketing tips for your small business.

Human Centric Approach to Marketing…Just Another Catch Phrase?

As modern humans in general, and marketers in particular, the unveiling of a new “paradigm” or “framework” that promises us the true “answers” for the big question in our lives is extremely hard to resist.

And yet I try to every time. I am a contrarian by nature, a devil’s advocate if you will. I only jump on the bandwagons that I feel will take me to a destination I want to go.

So I had some conflicting emotions about an article I read called: A Human- vs. Customer-Centric Approach to Marketing.

Basically for years we’ve been drilling into companies the idea that you have to sell to customers in ways that makes sense to them. You have to build sites structured around client needs, not your company’s organizational structure and the president’s pet projects. Okay, we know all that. Now we are being told that we have to think of customers as humans. Hmm…what were they before? But I get the point: you need to look at customers as individuals, irrational and impulsive. If you sell to other companies, you need to sell to the people in those companies.

There are a lot of points to think over in this article. Here are just a few:

“Consumer-oriented brands’ only meaningful metric is how much merchandise they move, and consumers tie their status to how much of a scarce resource they consume,” writes Mike Bonifer in his GameChangers. “The model is unsustainable. It is a zero-sum game. If we keep playing it, we are like arsonists watching our own homes burn.”

Events such as 9-11, the massive economic downturn of the past decade, …and the devastating earthquake in Japan earlier this year, have led people to seek out more meaningful, authentic connections with one another and with brands.

So are business owners supposed to use some warm and fuzzy metric to determine if they are now winning in the marketplace? Do people really want a meaningful, authentic connection with their favorite brand of toilet paper? No. But as a business owner, in whatever you do via marketing in general or internet marketing in particular, the main takeaway is this: the people you sell to are human and you can not take any assumption you have made about them for granted including how they will respond to your carefully branded image or cleverly written copy.

If you don’t want to read the article, here are the main actionable points it suggests are part of this new paradigm of marketing with a HUMAN-centric approach coupled with how we at Juicy think a small business can make them actionable:

Point 1: Instead of imagery, a company should focus on utility in its communications.

What this means to the small business: stop spending precious time and money fretting about the particular banner image on your new site or the its shade of blue. Spend your resources instead on SAYING something worthwhile and HELPFUL in your site copy.

Point 2: Instead of being concerned about perception, a brand is better suited to define its purpose.

What this means to a small business: stop trying to appeal to everyone under the sun. Define who you are and what you do and seek the market (ahem, people) who like/want/need you for that. Tell the rest: see ya!

Point 3: Instead of complexity and massive content generation, focus on simplicity and context when engaging in dialogue.

What this means to a small business: don’t overwhelm your prospects with the 101 things your company/product/service does and don’t spam tweet/email/facebook post. Start with the simple “how do you solve their pain point/need/hope/desire” and lead them to more info if and when they want it.

Point 4: Instead of messaging to your audience, seek to engage them in active participation.

What this means to a small business: don’t just send emails, post tweets, etc, throwing a bunch of stuff out there and hoping it sticks. Ask questions in your tweets and facebook posts, send customers surveys, survey people coming to your site, use sites like UserVoice or Get Satisfaction. Find out what people love or don’t love about your company/product/service. If your site includes an online application, a site like UserVoice, GetSatisfaction or even Zendesk is a MUST. Don’t forget to consider offline ways to garner participation. You may already be doing this so make sure you are collecting data from your efforts—data that you can make decisions from.

Point 5: Instead of focusing on corporate values, focus on human values.

This one is my favorite. What this means to a small business: Most customers don’t care about your “corporate mission.” Use that “about” page to engage people with your company not as a monolithic entity but as individual people who happen to work together. Give prospects an idea of what your company values as people and what it might be like to work with you. You’re not IBM, Apple or Exxon. Don’t hide your people.

Point 6: Instead of relying solely on rationality, be prepared to embrace irrationality.

What this means to a small business: One, you will NEVER be 100% certain ahead of time if a particular marketing effort is going to work or not even if it worked in the past. People are fickle. Two, don’t be surprised when your very obvious “buy here” button  doesn’t garner clicks. Sometimes you just can’t account for human behavior. This is why it’s pointless to spend hours agonizing over a color or image. Throw it up there and SEE if it works. If it doesn’t, change it. That’s the beauty of the web.

Have any thoughts on this? Anything you want to share about how your company is approaching marketing from a human-centric perspective?

Lisa Hutt
Written By Lisa Hutt
Lisa is the Content & Marketing Strategist at Juicy Results and can usually be found writing the blog posts that no one wanted to write because they're intense, need thorough research and can't be explained to common humans without her help. She breaks down SEO, analytics and marketing campaigns to help you stay fresh, relevant and sane.

August 26 2011 in Blog, Internet Marketing Terms, Strategic Advice

One Response to Human Centric Approach to Marketing…Just Another Catch Phrase?

  1. Pingback: Human centric approach to marketing…just another catch phrase? | Easy Money From Online Surveys Blog

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