From B2B to H2H – The Changing Face of B2B Marketing

Humans are back in style. For a time, as technology evolved, humans took a back seat to automation and canned responses. Modern consumers are getting smarter by the minute and speaking to a bot is no longer satisfactory. Just as the internet connects people, it can simultaneously divide. Artificial intelligence can be lonely, and people are craving that human interaction over convenience.

95% of buyers read online reviews prior to making a purchase. That implies people are already listening to each other when it comes to your brand, so why not take the reins? Here are a few tips on what it means to get back to the basics of being human:

Human-centric Thinking

Many B2B are caught up on the concept of “right here, right now” with their customers, but that’s not all people want. It’s starting to get tired and boring. When a brand moves too quickly to push out content, it should be no surprise that it’s not the most engaging. Even though consumers anticipate immediate assistance, they don’t want a brand to skimp on quality. It’s a catch-22 but savvy brands find a way to work around these unrealistic expectations.

Customer relationship management software company Hubspot is a prime example. They practice what is called “human-centric” thinking. It’s as simple as asking yourself “would I read this content in the morning over coffee?” If the answer is “no,” then you’re doing it wrong.

Forget about the blog. Hubspot provides their customers with a learning center complete with strategy workbooks and customizable templates. The idea is that it is interactive and engages the audience, rather than speaking at them with bland doldrum. Hubspot now has over 400,000 subscribers and 4.5 million monthly visitors. They have become a resource for all in-bound marketing and they did it by taking a human approach to content.

Sales Development

Some businesses have taken human-centric thinking to the next level by hiring representatives to ensure this happens. Sales development representatives (SDRs) make up the human component of B2B marketing campaigns. Instead of landing pages and gated content, opportunities are created through human interaction. The SDR is responsible for directly engaging with prospects through meetings, demos, and onboarding assistance.

Consumer-grade Technology

Technology is moving to a more practical space with consumer-grade versions of software. This enables a brand to broaden their audience and reach a greater number of users. By creating technology with the focus on ease-of-use, companies are also encouraging collaboration.

Task management software with chat features is a prime example of collaborative SaaS. The human element takes the front seat on these types of programs. It’s a move to democratize enterprise technology and encourage more people to interact with brands. Rather than feature-focused marketing strategies, it’s a way to allow people’s curiosity to carry them, rather than telling them where to go.

Marketing to People

Believe it or not, there are humans behind that brand. So why are companies creating content that speaks from one business to the next? Who is reading this stuff?

Content that is too smart, antiquated, or uptight, isn’t cutting the mustard anymore. No one is reading it. Instead, brands should be thinking about fun, quirky, and expressive content that keeps people engaged. Customers are evolving, and personalization also demands imagination. You cannot make someone feel special with dry conversation. Quite the contrary.

Additionally, consumers are getting older and new ones are taking their place. Generational marketing begs for bold and daring advertising. As the B2B buyer gets younger, brands need to adjust to maintain their competitive edge.

The email marketing company MailChimp has perfected the art of marketing to the people. Rather than a pen or keychain as swag, they gave out cat and dog hats to their customers. That’s a prime example of thinking outside of the box with fun and quirky advertising that engages people and gets them talking about your brand.

True Collaboration

It’s time sales and marketing got together. They really don’t have a choice in the current climate if they want to succeed. The key to generating growth velocity is by connecting sales and marketing. Not only does it shorten the sales cycle, it links ROI directly to marketing initiatives; something that has become increasingly difficult with the evolution of social media.

Collaboration leads to a 360-degree customer view. Sales can share customer pain points with marketing and marketing can help create the educational sales collateral. It’s a win-win. When the two departments are synchronized, more human-focused value is placed on the consumer. And that’s exactly the point.

The idea behind H2H is simple. Keep your customers in mind in everything that you do in business. As long as their satisfaction is a primary goal, success should always be on the horizon.