Technology, analytics, ranking, ROI, KPI, metrics, SEO, statistics, widgets, automation, media … each of these has a role to play in marketing a brand, but sometimes we put too much weight on them. We get caught up in making sure we have installed the latest plug-in, created a presence on the newest social network, and optimized our content to within an inch of it’s life. We forget that search engines and apps don’t buy our services – human beings buy our services.
Your brand needs to be human, too.
Whether you’re selling coaching or core processors, pet sitting or software, connecting with your customers on a human level is critical to capturing their interest, building strong relationships, and nurturing brand loyalty. People do not fall in love with brands because of what they are. People fall in love with brands because of “who” they are – the people behind the brand, the human experience of the brand, the emotional “why” and “so what?” of a brand.
If the face of your brand lacks a human element, you’re making your job as a marketer much harder than it needs to be. You’re setting yourself up to do a lot of extra work around convincing prospects of your brand’s value. Though we humans like to think we make choices based on a logical thought process, the truth is we usually make decisions based on gut reactions. We “like” a person or a product or a brand “just because.” Though a side-by-side comparison of two similar products might tell us that product A is the logical choice, if product B has found a way to connect with our human, emotional side, it will have the edge.
Four ways to humanize your brand:
There are four brand element categories that can benefit from the human touch: message, language, visuals, and interaction.
A human message focuses on people and their problems instead of products and their features. You’ve heard it a million times, but it’s worth repeating: talk about benefits, not features. Don’t make your product the star of the show, shine the spotlight on your customer. Talk about her life, her problems, her goals. Provide clear examples of how your product or service has real world applications for her.
Use simple, straightforward language to communicate your message. Don’t get tangled up in corporate-speak, marketingese, or technobabble. Talk like a human being. The shorter and simpler you can be in your presentation, the higher your audience’s comprehension and retention. Use stories and anecdotes – story is the language of humanity. Stories are easy to remember and share. Develop a conversational tone and style that is pleasant to read. Don’t be scared off by the naysayers who warn it’s the kiss of death – give humor a try. (Humans love to laugh.)
Please, please for the love of the marketing gods, do NOT use boring, seen-everywhere stock photography. The ubiquitous image of the office girl in glasses seen drawing a flow chart through a clear white board does not give anyone the warm and fuzzies, and it doesn’t do anything for your credibility either. Take the time to source interesting images that speak to the personality and philosophy of your brand. Better yet, invest in custom photography. Use nice head shots on your team bios, add head shots to your testimonials, include accent images throughout your website and in your ebooks and white papers. The rise of sites like Pinterest shows that we humans are visual creatures – give your customers something to look at.
Perhaps most importantly, be human in your interactions. Encourage conversations on your blog, and participate in them. If you engage in social media, don’t make it all about you or your product. Share other people’s content, share non-business content, don’t be afraid to show your personal side. Write emails that sound like emails, not like mandates handed down from on-high or slick sales messages wrapped in pseudo-informational content. Make customer service a central focus of your humanizing efforts. Your policies should advocate for the customer, not act as laws to keep her toes to the line. Provide direct access to real people. Respond promptly. Don’t freak out if customer interactions include banter or chatter or gossip about favorite TV shows. Embrace it. Those are the moments that make magic.
If you can humanize your brand, you will have an easier time connecting with customers. You won’t have to push so much on the hard sell. You won’t be cornered as often in feature- or price-based showdowns with competitors. Your brand will have that je ne sais quoi which appeals to people’s emotional, gut reaction side. And – just like that – you win.
So, how human is your brand? When you convert a customer, do you know what tipped the scales in your favor? Did the human element come into play?
About the Author: Jamie is a freelance strategist, teacher, and copywriter who partners with solo entrepreneurs to define and market their brands. Her specialties include brand development, social media strategy, and content marketing. Enjoy more of her posts, visit her site at Suddenly Marketing, or drop her an email.
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Image Credit: Anthony Reeves