With the rise of machines automating our daily tasks--taking us to work, telling us the answers, or doing the dishes--it's hard for businesses to remember that we are all human.
Think about the last time you read about business. We love to say, "This company's very successful," or "This company revolutionizes X," when really, it's the people running those companies that make those changes. It's the marketer that builds a fantastic advertisement, not "Barbie." It's Elon Musk's crazy space ideas, not "Space X."
I'm guilty of this myself.
Companies Aren't People—People Are
We've duped ourselves into thinking that companies are people. There's a reason why corporate law is so powerful--our government gives corporations rights as if they're one of us, but they're not, not really.
What this translates to in business? Dehumanization not just of the company from the consumer's perspective, but of the consumer from the company's perspective. We build personas to stereotype our buyers and read off scripts in hellish call centers.
Scott Stratten's podcast begins with, "In a world where customer service is an oxymoron..." and that's increasingly true. At Marketing United, he talked about how everyone in a company is actually in marketing--because marketing is in charge of customer experience.
The process and procedure we put into our customer service kills any chance at making an emotional connection--because we've dehumanized the process.
How to Bring Humanity Back Into Your Marketing
We need to remember: we are all human. So when you do business, you do business with people just like you. Talk to humans, not to robots--and they'll thank you for it. A few ways to do this:
- Know your audience and your customers, but not in broad strokes or personas. Know what they care about, what challenges they're facing, and how you can help. All businesses solve some problem--it's why they exist. What does yours solve?
- When you write, write conversationally. To people. Though it's daunting to translate technical information into something plain and simple, it can be done. Put yourself in the shoes of the audience and explain it to them as you would to a friend, over beers. Casual.
- Make an effort to put faces to names and the people who work there. Yes, publicly. Feature your employees and show how much you value them--as people who have lives, families, and interests (gasp!) outside of work.
- When speaking with someone on social media, use your name and have your followers know who you are. At Litmus, that means we tag every reply with our initials, and use our header to introduce ourselves. Recognize that there are people behind the avatar, and actually speak with them.
Above all, remember that if someone is complaining (or worse, yelling), there's a reason. They're dealing with the same problems you are---trying to please their boss, meet their quota, or manage their budget. People are emotional beings. Don't forget to be a human yourself.