Forget B2B and B2C, the new marketing strategy is H2H; human to human. As businesses entered the digital age, marketing departments moved away from having a real conversation with potential customers. Instead, the focus was pushing ads in front of them on as many web pages and mobile pages as possible. We left the Mad Men-era of marketing with the constant analysis of customer/client behavior, wants, and needs. We moved to “How can we get our name in front of as many prospective customers as possible?” Enter Google AdWords, reinforcing every part of this thought process. Where is the human connection in AdWords? You could stretch and say that the connection comes with writing ads that reach the right potential leads and working to draw those people in. I would disagree. In AdWords, leads are nothing but a number. There is no human connection until the sales department takes over and contacts a lead to start the sales process. I say, bring the human connection back to pre-sales, back to marketing.
Let me also say that I am not in favor of giving up AdWords. It is an extremely useful tool and to be competitive in today’s world, it is a necessary tool. Just don’t let it be your “be-all, end-all”.
I digress, back to the human connection. The world of social media has kick started this transition. Most marketing departments, at least those worth their salt, write blogs and are active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social sites, depending on what they’re selling. These tools are used to reach out to potential leads and start a conversation that hopefully leads to brand engagement. The other side of this is that now the potential leads expect you to engage them. It’s not enough to just have a social media presence, the content has to be exceptional. Most importantly, it has to be relevant. Content has to show that you, as a business, care what your customers think, want, and need.
Potential customers are not going to choose a company that has disappointing content. In a survey of 400 B2B buyers, 70% said they were underwhelmed by the content they found in social media and the content they downloaded (i.e. white papers). Out of that 70%, 25% said they would never download again from that business. What does this mean? Companies understand they need to move back to the human connection, but they just aren’t too good at starting the conversation.
Developing a relevant and meaningful conversation leads to a loyal and sustainable relationship with return customers and powerful referrals. One of the best ways to know whether you are creating a useful conversation is to ask yourself whether your content is powerful enough to get people to give you their email voluntarily. This means, that if you can put “send us your email address so we can let you know when we have posted more content” and people actually do this, you are on the right track. There is no requirement for them to enter their email address to get anything, they just do it because they want to engage with you. That engagement is true marketing success.