4 Ways you can humanize marketing to get better results now

Updated: 5/2/2019

So how do you humanize marketing?

Let me explain.

From object-based to human-centered marketing

I don’t know about you, but I’ve become weary of all the “personalized” emails that I’m receiving lately.

It’s not that they’re all bad (but plenty of them are); it’s because, at the core, there’s something deeper going on.

In sum, I’m treated as an object to convert rather than a person who may need help. Can you relate?

Virtually all the polished emails sent to me use marketing automation. And they’re mostly focused on getting me to do something. In most cases, that something is a click. I’m given a call to action link or a button to click on.

We need to stop treating our customers like objects with our marketing and to them as people. We’re customers too.

But we have a gap:

According to the CMO Council, “Only 20% of marketers are able to predict the next best action for their customers.”

So what can you do?

Relating to humans, not prospects

humanized marketing, 4 Ways you can humanize marketing to get better results nowWe have all this technology to connect with our customers, but they’re increasingly tuning us out.

Why? Because they don’t feel it’s authentic, or emotionally relevant, and marketers are using marketing automation in a way that misses the bigger picture.

What if you put your full attention on one customer, one buyer, one potential at a time?

Could you do a better job connecting and a building a relationship?

Bryan Kramer states, “There is no more B2B or B2C: it’s human to human, h2h”

Also, read How to get your marketing unstuck and connect with customers

Customers know what human-centered marketing feels like

As our marketing technology, machine learning, and tools become increasingly smarter, so are our customers. Your customers know what good marketing really feels like. And they feel it when you’re sending them an artificial or generalized message.

But as a marketer, I know better.

A real human being wrote a template. The email (even if it’s well written) and personalized in a few places, still feels bad. Why? Because it’s scaled. We can’t fool our customers.

Here’s the thing: as your sophistication grows, your customers do too. Customers know authentic- sincere – communication from the scaled messages you send. They feel it.

And as marketers, we’re customers too. But it’s easy to forget when we sit at our desks. Think about it.

Marketing dehumanized: stop treating people like leads

humanized marketing, 4 Ways you can humanize marketing to get better results nowAt its core, marketing is about building relationships.

To do that we need to build trust. So why is it we do things in marketing that ignore this truth?

Joan Westenberg writes:

Treating people like leads instead of humans just don’t work. It doesn’t sell. It doesn’t push you to any level of success. You want to suck at marketing or sales? Dehumanize your prospects. And dehumanize your interactions with them.

For example, we can feel it when someone’s trying to push us to do something. We know when we’re treated as objects (we’re just a conversion, a click, or an increase in lead score). It’s dehumanizing.

We also recognize when someone cares. We know when a person wants to help us, and they’re not trying to push an agenda or manipulate us to action.

Why humanize marketing?

It’s based on this truth from neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. He said, “We are not thinking machines that feel; rather, we are feeling machines that think.”  

When you are marketing to people, you’re trying to get them to do something or buy something. But when you’re marketing for people, you’re advocating for them. You’re doing something that helps and may make a difference.

Marketing isn’t something you do to people. It’s something you do for people.Click To Tweet

Are you focusing on the customer journey or the sale?

humanized marketing, 4 Ways you can humanize marketing to get better results now

How often are you trying to move your customers to do something that will benefit you i.e. click, sign up, register and buy?

Our marketing efforts are driven by our goal, our KPI, our quarterly income or profits. There’s nothing wrong with those measurements.

It’s just that our intentions may become twisted when we start with our personal agendas as a driver.

What do you measure?  When you measure the wrong thing, your marketing can become wonky quickly. We’re not just seeking clicks. We want to connect and form lasting relationships with our clients.

When you think about your buyer’s journey, consider being sincere about helping them.

Have you added the human touch to your martech stack?

Why do we do things that we think scale when at their core relationships are not scalable?

Here’s what I mean.

Forrester Consulting discovered, “65 percent of marketers struggle to employ emotional marketing as they turn to automation to improve customer engagement.”

If you have a martech stack (we all don now), you need to emphasize the human touch more. That means that your marketing team needs to have actual conversations with your buyers.

Use your marketing technology, database, and ability to segment to refine your initial understanding of your target audience’s needs.

Focus on helping your future customers achieve what they’re trying to do at each step of the journey.

Is this hard to do? Yes.

That said, I believe this is where marketers must focus their energy to make sure the buyer’s journey stays personal at each touch point. This is what makes a better customer experience.

Let’s get actionable, shall we? Here are 4 Ways you can humanize marketing to get better results.

Four Ways to Humanize Your Marketing  Today

1. Help like a hotel concierge to make the experience better

If you want to know how to approach applying empathy to your marketing efforts, consider how a hotel concierge operates. What is their goal? To help meet the needs and be helpful to guests. Why can’t we approach our marketing and sales the same way?

Do concierges give the same advice and input to all hotel guests? Of course not. They do things that don’t scale. Still, they’ve prepared themselves to answer some of the same questions.  For example, what are the best shows? Where are the best restaurants for each occasion? How can I get a reservation on short notice? Where are the grocery or liquor stores etc.?

But the key is that they listen, they’re available, and their goal is to help. What can we learn? We can approach our customers by doing things intentionally like a concierge.

2. Do things that don’t scale 

There are things that customers expect to be scalable.

For example, email newsletters. Still, they want relevant content. They don’t expect that every single newsletter personalized to their interests. That said, if enough of the content is irrelevant, they’ll unsubscribe.

People mentally unsubscribe before they finally remove us from their inbox. Customers move from interested, to ambivalent, and ultimately apathetic quickly.

Our salespeople do things that don’t scale all the time.

If we don’t change our marketing automation approach, we’re going to kill the value of marketing automation. In sum, you can’t automate trust.

But you can build it over time by being intentional and seeking to add value with each touch. That’s at the core of doing things that don’t scale.

That might be opening Outlook and actually sending a personal message.

Or picking up the phone talk to your potential customers.

It is critical to know what customers want to serve them better. For more on this read, How to Put the Customer First in Lead Generation.

Our job is to make each person we engage with feel as if they are the most important person in the room.

This will humanize your marketing quickly.

Also, check out this post Growing B2B Sales with Trust and Empathy

3. Shift your focus to building relationships

All marketing, selling and lead generation is about one word: relationships. It’s not about technology; it’s about people. We need to take the time to do things that don’t scale.

This is from a terrific book, The Passion Conversation:

We form relationships in two ways.

The first way is through dialogue, a virtuous circle of interacting through listening and responding that causes more interaction, listening, and responding. Relationships grow through conversation.

The second way we form relationships is through a process called reciprocal altruism. That’s a fancy term to explain where people freely give to others with nothing expected in return.

Relating to people like this is the heart of one-to-one marketing.

Also, check out Lead Nurturing: 4 Steps to walking the buying path with your customers

4. Use your applied empathy now

Empathy is your marketing intuition. Use your empathy to move out of your mind and into the mind of the client.

What’s the bottom line?

Move away from me-first thinking to customer-centric thinking and speak specifically to their motivations.

If you don’t do this, you’re treating potential customers (aka leads) as objects and not as people. If you do that, your goal is to get them to do so something.

Instead, I advocate that you seek to understand them first; to know their motivation and learn what interests them. And even better, to know what might be helpful to them to get what they really want.

For more read, How Empathy Will Grow Your Sales and Marketing Pipeline.

Ask this as you approach your marketing:

Is that how we’d like someone to treat us? Is this how we’d like a friend or loved one to be treated?

In sum, do unto others as you’d like to have done onto you. I know, I know. This seems obvious but it’s not. Check out, Why Marketers Fail at Customer Empathy and How to Fix it


Humanized marketing is about building people-first relationships.

Remember this: When you are marketing to people, you’re trying to get them to do something. But when you’re marketing for people, you’re advocating for them.

You’re doing something that could help and make a difference.

By following these suggestions, you’ll make a huge improvement in how you connect with your customers.

It’s your turn now. Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below.

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