Real Leaders

Social Marketing 101: Treat Your Customers Like Humans, Not Numbers

Selective focus photo of hands with different skin tone being put together by cheerful young people from various countries

Business-to-business marketing is delusional. We continue to act as if customers make buying decisions in a rational void, free from any messy emotional constraints. The truth is that they never have, and they never will.

Many studies back up this idea and provide a more clear picture of the drivers that go into business purchasing decisions. Some B2B marketers have taken this research to heart and are beginning to talk about their customers as if they were humans and not just numbers. We can achieve more as professionals if we’re prepared to go further to benefit our brands, our customers, and ourselves.   

It’s partly because customers continuously evolve, seeking emotional connections and purposes that resonate with them. Customers should be at the heart of your business, not just lucky to be considered at the end of the product development and sales process.   

How do marketers deal with the current challenges and changes in B2B marketing? We must shift our focus from products to people, make a meaningful and positive difference, and continually self-improve.  

To keep up with the ever-changing market, look to your customers and embrace a new mindset to engage them using these approaches:  

1. Shift your focus 

Most businesses try to put their customers first, but that doesn’t always happen. Even business-to-customer companies have to try hard to remember that customers are the essential element of their operations. Putting products first in businesses is no longer sustainable.   

Products don’t buy themselves; people keep businesses afloat. Everyone you engage with is a human being with feelings, preferences, and insecurities, just like you. Of course, in B2B marketing, you’re speaking not to just one person, but a whole audience made up of employees and business partners. They don’t come to you as a brand or business to hear your corporate technical jargon. They want to know that there’s a human behind the product.   

Customers don’t just buy from you. They buy into you. As a business, your primary goal should be following your vision and improving your customers’ lives, even before profit. More than this, you need to use emotion to unlock people’s understanding so that you can move minds. You can make a substantial, meaningful, and positive difference by doing so. That’s what humanizing B2B marketing is all about.  

2. Make a positive difference  

Having a purpose requires that your company show up in the world in a way that proves you’re trying to make a meaningful and positive difference to the lives of your customers — and not just selling products for the sake of it. Having an overarching human purpose and communicating it well improves lives.   

The customer will always be an afterthought if you treat B2B marketing as a production process. Instead, say to yourself, “We have these amazing customers. What can we create for them? What would inspire them? What could change and make their lives better?” Think how transformational that would be. You’d be addressing their needs.   

You want to be a teacher, not a salesperson; a trusted educator, not a mere advisor. Offering new insights through your products, services, and marketing makes you indispensable and irreplaceable. But, more importantly, you’re positively impacting your customers.   

3. Access your likeability  

In the new era of business, being liked is a fundamental requirement for your brand success. It gives you a commercial advantage. Your customers make their buying decisions based on which company or brand they like the best — it’s as simple as that. This has always been the case to a certain extent, but it’s essential today.   

Over the past 10 years, there’s been a massive shift in how buyers think, act, and feel about business brands. For many years companies relied on expensive salespeople to create the likeability factor. Still, today, when communications are usually online rather than face-to-face, they recognize that they need to invest in their brands to deliver a positive and friendly experience.  

In this new era, it’s vital that you don’t think of business as a sales game to be won or lost. You must have a voice, be relevant, and make a positive impact.    

It’s no longer sustainable to do business as usual. The discussion surrounding humanizing B2B marketing is prominent because it’s essential. People are the foundation of the success of our businesses and industry. We rely on them as much as they depend on us. Customers search for new insights and wisdom through their favorite products. Like the brands they buy from, they want to trust and feel their lives impacted positively and substantially.   

It’s easy to put profit at the center of the mission and vision of a business. Truly understanding your customers and all their human motivations, thoughts, and desires is far more complicated. It takes time, energy, and empathy. But it’s worth it for everyone involved. Humanizing B2B marketing changes lives in both big and small ways.  

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