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PHOTO: Hian Oliveira

People talk about the importance of account-centricity in B2B marketing like our life depends on it. And it is absolutely key. But, there’s a piece to B2B marketing that doesn't get as much spotlight — and it should. This is the fact that you are still marketing to people. 

So, you must humanize your approach. This not only helps improve the customer experience, but it also makes marketing more meaningful for all parties involved. It’s essential if you want to be effective and build better customer relationships. 

But, where do you even begin? Here are three steps to get you on your way toward humanized marketing, and all the benefits that come with it. 

1. Recognize Where We’re Falling Short

In recent years, marketers have come to agree that marketing needs to be personalized and relevant to be successful. Buyers don’t want to receive mass-blasted emails or get discount offers that don’t apply to them. It feels disingenuous and lazy. So we’ve evolved. Marketers everywhere became more attuned to the fact that today’s consumer wants to be appreciated as an individual — and treated as such. Personalized marketing is the result. 

But personalizing marketing only gets us so far. If we’re only personalizing our marketing efforts to “convert leads” and “grow revenue,” then we’re still viewing our customers as potential dollar signs. We’re still forgetting we need to address the emotional needs (hopes, wants and aspirations) of our customers. It might sound a little crazy, because it doesn’t just sound personal — it sounds intimate. Well, it is. But it’s imperative. 

Brené Brown, a well-known author and speaker, is quoted as saying: “People, people, people are just people, people, people.” Her point (paraphrased) is that, whether you’re talking to your mom, the barista at the local coffee shop, residents at a domestic violence shelter or a boardroom full of Fortune 500 executives, you’re talking to people. Despite our differences and varying life circumstances, we all share the same needs at our core. We need to be seen, heard, appreciated and valued. Our customers are no different. 

By first recognizing this, you allow yourself the opportunity to change. Watch how you speak about customers and future customers internally. Are they “leads” or “customers,” or do you use first names? Do you think of them as individuals, or as nameless, faceless carbon copies of one another? Shifting your perception is the first step toward humanizing your marketing.  

Related Article: B2B Buyers Still Want the Human Touch: What's a B2B Seller to Do?

2. Understand the Art and Science of Empathy

Empathy-based marketing puts customers’ experiences at the center of all marketing and sales efforts. It begins with understanding your customers’ perspectives, desires and motivations. Once you have a grasp on that, you can relate to them as humans instead of objects you’re trying to convert.

As neuroscientist Antonio Damasio said, “We are not thinking machines that feel; rather, we are feeling machines that think.” This means we all depend on emotion in our everyday lives and interactions. So when we encounter marketing that doesn’t address any of our emotions, it feels empty. It doesn’t connect. 

Empathy means flipping your script. Don’t try to get your customers to care about what you do; connect first to what your customers care about, and then think through how you can help them in those areas. Work to become an advocate for your customers. How can you step outside of yourself to help them succeed? 

Use your marketing technology, database and ability to segment and refine your initial understanding of your target audience’s needs. By doing so, you can focus on helping your future customers achieve their goals at each step of the journey.

Related Article: How to Walk the Empathy Talk

3. Adjust Your Strategies and Tactics to Be More Human

Empathy-based marketing is humanized marketing. But how do you actually translate this into your day-to-day? Here are some suggestions, in the context of account-based marketing (ABM): 

  • Deliver insights to sales. You can create meaning and have an impact on your company by delivering actionable insights to the sales team in real-time. This allows sales to start off their relationship with a customer with as much understanding of the customer as possible. 
  • Orchestrate the right interactions across the account journey. This will ensure you’re mindful of the customer’s journey, you care about their experience, and you aren’t trying to offer something they’re not ready or interested in at that time. 
  • Track and measure impact. Use ABM analytics to measure and demonstrate the impact of your efforts, so you can improve results and know you are making a difference. This will increase your commitment to humanized marketing, and will help your entire organization to buy into the power of the approach. 

Yes, we need to be account-centric. But we’re all humans, so we must focus on treating one another accordingly. Let’s improve the customer experience, the human experience, and we’ll simultaneously improve our business outcomes.