Bringing humanity to business
Earlier this week, our latest ‘Breakfast and Brainfood with Vested’ event discussed taking a business-to-human (B2H) approach to marketing and communications. B2H, is fast emerging as a popular marketing acronym hot on the heels of B2C, B2B and B2B2C. Alongside our panellists, Lara Bealing – Marketing Director at Canada Life, Simon Moore – CEO at Innovation Bubble, and Dominic Payling – Independent Strategist, our UK Managing Director Katie Spreadbury discussed and debated what this latest acronym really means and how marketers and communicators can put it into practice and bring humanity into their businesses.
So what does B2H really mean?
It was essential to get stuck straight into the central concept of our event. B2H… What does it really mean? The consensus is that while we can often get caught up in who we think our customers are, what they need and what they want, this approach is about REALLY knowing them.
Knowing who they are and what their ‘why’ is. Why do they make the decisions they make? Why might they choose your business over another? And why do they want to hear from you? Essentially, it’s about reaching the people whose needs you can meet. Those might be emotional or rational needs, but their needs and what you offer must connect. It’s recognising that even if we are speaking to people about business, you must always approach them with humanity. It’s people that make the decisions that will impact whether they become our customers or not. Understanding what motivates your customers so that you can connect with them on an individual level is a key driver of business strategy and growth.
How can businesses take this approach and bring humanity to business?
Enabling the financial services sector to talk to people isn’t always easy. But taking the people on the inside of any organisation to their customers is crucial when it comes to creating human connections. Empowered staff will engage with customers in an entirely human way and build relationships based on respect, trust and empathy, in turn driving human-to-human connections.
Taking a B2H approach is also central to driving business success. It’s about creating difference; ensuring that your organisation stands out from others, for the right reasons. Getting boardroom buy-in isn’t always easy, but it is critical to success. Bringing humanity to the forefront of a business has to happen within every branch of an organisation – it isn’t just the job of marketing and communications. To deliver the strategic capability for these conversations, businesses must blend data, insight and intuition.
What do businesses need to consider when embracing a more human approach?
Humans are always changing, adapting and evolving. The one constant is that their wants and needs will be constantly changing. What fulfils their needs one day, won’t necessarily do the same the next day. Customer needs are not static, they are dynamic and businesses need to be able to flex and embrace the changing nature of their customers.
Embracing flex needs to, in part, manifest itself as giving customers the control they want. Enabling them to access your products and services in a way that suits them and their lives needs to be prioritised over a solution that presents the easiest route for your business.
Additionally, business authenticity is something that will impact the success of taking a more human approach. Essentially, being authentic is a success driver to bringing humanity to the fore. One can’t happen without the other. Finding good things to say is easy, but the reality of living up to them is much harder and if you don’t deliver, trust can be broken. If authenticity is aligned to the business strategy, culture and values, it will flow naturally throughout every part of the organisation.
How will wider adoption of a B2H approach shift the future of marketing?
There are some clear impacts that bringing more humanity to businesses will have. One is a lessened reliance on bigger brands, as smaller brands increasingly cater more closely to the needs of smaller groups of customers and larger brands struggle to adapt. As a result more brands will be fighting for space, and creating difference will continue to grow in importance. Marketing will play a key role in building and communicating the difference, leveraging its external view of the world to find the space to communicate what it is that sets businesses apart.
To grow our role within business, marketing has to deliver success – and the effectiveness of marketing will diminish rather than grow if we’re not able to treat our customers as humans. Understanding our customers’ ‘why’ will help us to best deploy budgets, creative energy, data and insights to build deeper human connections, and deliver the full potential that marketing can bring to business.