Modern marketing demands a relevant message. In spite of the fact that more than 80% of marketers feel strongly that they have a thorough understanding of individual customers, only about a third of consumers feel their preferred retailer understands them, according to a study from IBM.
The fact is that the vast majority of marketing methods continue to focus on reaching wide swaths of people with a single message that's too general to connect with most consumers.
"In the B2C world, everyone is pretty quick to acknowledge the wants, needs, and emotions of the consumer," says Joey Coleman, a speaker and consultant in the areas of customer retention and customer experience. "In the B2B world, we think we need to be more buttoned-up, or more straight-laced, without stopping to acknowledge that the person we're selling to is also a consumer."
For marketers to get the results they're looking for, they need to set aside B2B or B2C marketing in favor of an H2H -- or human-to-human -- approach. Coleman elaborates, "When we shift to H2H thinking, it allows us to find more commonalities between the people on our side and the people on their side of the table...It allows us to meet our clients where they are in the human condition instead of trying to sterilize everything to the point of a one-way interaction."
Companies such as IBM are ahead of the curve when it comes to an H2H mindset because of investments in products and cognitive technology that have the capacity to improve the daily lives of their customers. Capital One made a similar investment with the launch of Capital One Labs, aimed at improving future offerings by focusing on longer-term innovations.
H2H is more than a trendy marketing scheme; it's a complete change in how marketers do their jobs that emphasizes a focus on the future. And there are a few other mindset changes marketers will need to embrace in the process of cultivating an H2H approach.
1. Relevance over reach
Consumers are tired of being shown generic marketing messages. Today, ads designed to appeal to the biggest possible group of consumers end up appealing to virtually none of them. Janrain's Online Personal Experience study illustrated that around 74% of customers are frustrated by online ads and offers that don't directly align with their interests -- and they don't think getting their gender right in your email newsletter is enough.
Conversely, when your ad features a customer's favorite sports team, reminding him of a loyalty that's survived, despite the fact that he's moved to a completely different city, you win him over and create not only a conversion, but also a relationship.
2. Empathy over efficiency
Think like your clients -- and your clients' clients. A stronger connection with the sales team will help marketers overcome the challenge of connecting with their audience members and turn hesitant consumers into satisfied conversions. According to Teradata's 2015 Global Data-Driven Marketing Survey, however, 80% of respondents cited continued silos within marketing as an obstacle to omnichannel campaign overviews.
Putting yourself in the shoes of your clients will help you design products and services that solve the problems they most need taken care of.
3. Trust over tricks
As long as their personal information is used for their own benefit (such as to provide more relevant advertisements), most consumers are OK with providing it to online businesses. That's not all that surprising in a world where downloading a ringtone app requires granting access to your contacts, text messages, camera, and microphone.
To marketers, trust is everything, and more than three-quarters of people feel that some explanation of how personal info is used would increase their level of trust in a business.
The H2H approach might be a hard pill for some marketers -- who think their small degree of personalization represents the pinnacle of individualized advertising -- to swallow.
For those who can embrace the revolutionary mindset, it represents a method that will, in all likelihood, define how future marketing strategies are built: with a microscopic focus on the customer as an individual.