Forget ‘B2B’ and ‘B2C’ Marketing. Introducing H2H.

Forget ‘B2B’ and ‘B2C’ Marketing. Introducing H2H.

Hello, fellow human. I assume you came here to either learn about KreativElement or to do a little research on the current state of social media and content marketing. That’s good news for both of us because we’ve got something exciting to discuss. There’s a big change that has taken place in marketing where brands are starting to treat customers like actual individual humans instead of statistics or demographics. Customers expect the brands they interact with to have human qualities like empathy, wit, and even anger if called for.

The concept has been implemented gradually by some of the savvier brands over the past few years, but it’s only recently been given a name by marketer Bryan Kramer. Brands, look toward the future and say goodbye to the hard-edged distinctions of B2B and B2C. Effective marketing today should be approached with an H2H (Human to Human) mindset.

It’s a simple concept, but it represents a significant shift from the old ways and takes some shifts in thinking on the part of marketers and business owners. Kramer’s argument is that the evolution of the “science” of marketing at some point took it too far from it’s core purpose, which is: people selling products to people. Ultimately, your product is serving a pain point for someone else. Whether it’s a small personal product like a sock or a large industrial product like a combine, the more personal a connection you can make to your audience, the better positioned you are to become a long-term trusted partner, rather than a one-time solution.

Let’s think about it from the perspective of socks. I happen to need some new socks at the moment. But there isn’t a sock brand out there right now that has made a clear effort to differentiate their relationship to the consumer. Nothing sticks out in my head so I go to “the store” and buy whichever socks are there. At the same time, a brand like Dollar Shave Club has taken a similar product in terms of its everyday-ness and affordability, in razors, and changed their relationship to their customer through marketing tactics that communicate real human qualities.

Their series of video ads, available on YouTube, is nothing short of brilliant. This ad in particular breaks down several walls of traditional marketing at once. It directly addresses you the consumer and your actual needs vs. what the market is providing for you now. Do you want to pay for Roger Federer’s sponsorship deal? Do you always remember to buy them at the store? It addresses concerns of quality and does so in a humorous way: “They have steel blades, aloe strips, and they’re really [expletive] good.” It also reminds you that, as a company, they create new jobs.

Though your brand might not be positioned to use much humor (or profanity, for that matter) in your marketing, there’s a lot you can learn about the way Dollar Shave Club uses new media to find a way to communicate with “normal” people where they are. The fact that they use YouTube so consistently and effectively shows that even though they invest in traditional advertising as well, they know that the customer journey is changing.

Dollar Shave Club made a great decision when they hired the actor for those much-loved 30 second spots. It’s not a Hollywood-style voiceover about how the future of razors is here. It’s their co-founder and CEO, a totally “normal” looking guy who doesn’t go out of his way to tell you who he is and why he’s great. The brand knows that he is not the point. The product is, and more importantly, you are.

So how can you adjust your marketing tactics to suit the age of H2H? As ever, know your audience. Who are they? What do they care most about? What kind of language do they use? What social media platforms are they on and what kind of content will appeal to them? These are the types of important questions we ask during the strategy process with a new client. Ultimately, your customers want to be reached, but if you address them as someone they aren’t, or simply address “everyone,” you aren’t being specific enough in your messaging.

Make sure you identify the right social platforms and develop the right strategy. YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are all social platforms gaining in popularity for brands and individuals alike. Is your audience looking for high quality original written content? Video is now the most viable marketing medium and one the biggest driver of views and sales. Determining which platforms are a good fit for your brand and your audience will come after the relationship of your product to audience is simple and clear.

Always remember that your relationship with customers should be one that is two-way and mutually beneficial. I am sure that you have a great product, but you need to add more value using your marketing in order to really gain loyalty. So, what else do you have to offer? What positive difference can you make in your customers’ lives? If you can be more than a stop-gap solution and clearly communicate a value proposition that is down-to-earth, you just might be my new favorite brand of socks.

photo credit: Fibonacci Blue Protester at a Minneapolis Convention Center Trump fundraiser via photopin (license)

Dylan Thaemert
dylan@kreativelement.com
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