How to Humanise Your B2B Marketing

Sometimes, when we talk about B2B marketing, we forget that business decisions are actually made by people who act on behalf of companies. As an inbound marketing agency based in London, we understand how to reach out and attract the right people to your site, engage them, and gently encourage them to convert into sales. That means specialising in “human”.

Your business as a person

In many respects, being human is wrapped up with branding. In this article that looks at how to brand a technical business, for example, technical businesses are challenged to understand their “personality”.

Who your customers are reflects on who you should be

Understanding the “personality” of your business will relate to your values AND your ideal customers. If there is no match between the two personalities it is never going to work. People, at the end of the day, buy from people.

Once you have defined WHO your business is and WHO it is serving, you then have the basis to start taking marketing actions that are based on your company’s personality.

What do your customers look like?

How does your company’s personality translate into action?

This pretty much comes down to communication. Visual imagery communicates feeling, values and character, as well as other ideas. The kind of language and writing style that you adopt for your website copy and content – your business’s voice – will also play a large part.

Consistency is vital. Think about the people you know. We have all encountered those people that give us a sense of “not knowing where we are with them”. That can be because of inconsistencies. Perhaps they are usually calm, but sometimes explode; or they are reserved, but sometimes crack jokes at extremely inappropriate times. With that, here’s a slight contradiction...

Spontaneity is the key to being human

Machines and systems are not very good at being spontaneous in a good way. Spontaneity in that context usually means a bug or a failure. Humans, on the other hand, are constantly surprising themselves and each other. If you want to humanise your B2B marketing, then being unpredictable could be a winner.

How does that translate into action? Well, you may decide to throw some kind of offer out there once in a while that nobody could see coming. Offer a loyalty gift to a customer. Brands and personalities should be consistent, but doing something that surprises will always be appreciated.

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Humans love humour

Be careful with this one. If you are going to use humour, think long and hard about it. The last thing you want is tumbleweeds. When you get it right, the benefits are huge. B2B marketing shouldn’t mean boring. If you want to humanise your B2B marketing efforts, humour could make all the difference.

Take Cisco’s slow waiter video trailer for example. Who would ever link a brand like Cisco with humour? What they’ve done with this video is to recognise that the subject matter they deal with is complex, highly technical, geeky, and viewed as being as exciting as watching paint dry.

Cisco use humour to help their B2B marketing connect with audiences

People love stories

B2B marketing, just like any form of marketing, generally works best when there’s a story. Brands that have a story, such as Richard Branson’s rise to entrepreneurial greatness apparently from starting a tuck shop at school, will always attract loyal customers.

If you want to humanise your B2B marketing activities, tell stories. There are some great examples flying around. Take a look at this video by IBM, which shows how Singapore’s story and IBM’s story are interconnected.

Especially true stories...

This is just one video from a series that shares first-person stories of real employees about historical events in Singapore. Does your company have a long history? If so, you should use it. Notice that IBM have used real stories, not fictional stories about customers.

When you inject this kind of authenticity into a content marketing campaign, you will reach the minds and souls of your audience, not just the logical mind.

Get your customers to tell their stories

Encouraging real people to engage with your brand by posting their own user-generated content is another way of humanising your B2B marketing. If people are “talking” to your brand, interacting with it, that already signals some kind of human connection.

This is a ploy effectively used in B2C – restaurant-goers encouraged to share their experience, for example – but it can also work well for B2B. SalesForce invites members of its IdeasExchange community to logon and suggest ideas for new tools and features to be developed for the main SalesForce platform. The impression? A brand that wants to listen to its customers.

Salesforce have a great forum where customers can discuss their thoughts and opinions.

Augmented reality – where humans and technology meet

Augmented reality (AR) apps enable people to interact with your brand in a unique, useful and close way. In a way, augmented reality is helping to humanise your B2B marketing brand because it is helping humans in a practical, intuitive and easy way.

Admittedly, the B2B world has not embraced AR as much as it should as yet, however, there are examples around, such as Hexagon. Annual reports are no fun, regardless of the best efforts to use fancy charts and infographics to bring figures to life. Hexagon has taken reporting to a whole new level with an app that literally brings key pages to life with 3D charts and presentations.

Hexagon made reports engaging by designing an augmented reality app to display them.

Check out the video to see how it works.

And finally…

Ever considered a chatbot?

We can’t discuss the humanisation of your B2B marketing without mentioning chatbots somewhere. Always keep sight of the fact that the traffic that really counts is human. As long as the chatbot isn’t intrusive or annoying, available as an option rather than "in your face", it is worth consideration.

Let your personality shine through

Okay, so you are probably going to use a copywriter for your content – and a wise decision that is – but be very clear and determined with your brief.

Articles.Do.Not.Have.To.Be.Written.In.A.Deadpan.Or.Wooden.Way.

There are plenty of ways that character, humour and more personable touches can be put into content without becoming unprofessional.

Let our London based inbound marketing agency help you humanise your B2B marketing. Get in touch.