• Robin Kastengren

The Importance of Humanity in Marketing

When people are in consumer-mode, the idea of marketing can sometimes seem like a giant, expensive manipulation meant to dig deep into your wallet. As a small business owner, marketing is critical to your success. So, too, are your customers! Most entrepreneurs and local businesses want to stay as far away from manipulating their community as possible, yet they still need to put in some marketing time to bring in new business. How to reconcile these two worlds? By being human, of course.

Oh, The Humanity!

In a recent article from Forbes, a critical advantage that small business owners have over mega-corporations (and their big budgets) is noted. In essence, it’s your humanity that you should be leveraging to gain the advantage. For big companies, speed and efficiency become an obsession, and accomplishing goals in the fastest way possible often means implementing automation and technology in place of human beings.

Smaller companies, however, tend to rely on the humans to get things done--especially for companies where the owners are the only employees. Of course, everyone is using computerized checkout options and bookkeeping software; those replacements are smart and efficient for businesses of any size. Relationships, on the other hand, can never be automated.

Where You are the Giant

Major corporations drown their audiences with thousands and thousands of dollars in advertising. Entrepreneurs share their excitement with any customer who walks in the door. Big businesses use complex automated phone systems. Little guys tend to answer the same cell phone for both customers and friends. National chains have turned to self-checkout machines to cut costs; local businesses are probably using point-of-sale software, an iPad, and themselves to complete a sale.

Major restaurant chains rely on streamlined menus and processes to boost efficiency. Local coffee stops and ice-cream shops relish the opportunity to surprise guests with new flavors and combinations, complete with the story of how the flavors were developed. Crafting store chains charge outrageous prices for furniture and decor pieces that look homemade, but are mass-manufactured for efficiency. Individual curators love to show off the handmade work of local crafters and artisans who put their hearts into every creation.

Starting to see the angle?

How to Make it Work for You

First, you have to believe in your own value. Take a look at all the big corporations spending millions of dollars trying to advertise their humanity, while your humanity is what brought you to your business in the first place. You don’t have to manage tens of thousands of customers; you have time and energy for each and every one of yours.

And they don’t like interacting with computers. According to a recent survey, 75 percent of people over 55 prefer a real cashier; 55 percent of those between 35 and 54 want a human, and even 39 percent of those under 35 would still rather have a person ringing them up. When it comes to the phone, 90 percent of people prefer speaking with a live person rather than an automated system.

To leverage your humanity, all you have to do is continue being a human. Interact with your customers, answer your phone, curate your own stock, invent your own flavors, and assist your own customers through the checkout process. In your marketing, show yourself! Don’t be afraid to use your own photo, create a video for a new product debut, and write content for your website using your own voice. Not every piece of business communication needs to be in a stuffy, professional voice. Be the same person online and in your marketing as you are in-person and in your store.

Humanizing Your Content

Too many business owners rely on stats and data to determine the full extent of their content marketing plan. While understanding what works and dumping anything ineffective are still important, companies like Google are getting better and better at filtering out websites that are obviously created, written, and structured to “beat” the algorithm to gain a top spot in the search results. Instead, they are refining such results to give anyone who manages to show a bit of humanity and authenticity a boost. After all, people hate interacting with technology. When they must use a tool like Google to solve a problem, they are all hoping to end up with a human at the end of the process.

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