Startup to human: A founder’s guide to human-to-human marketing

Every startup knows that a smart marketing strategy is an important tool for growth. But as the difficult economic landscape keep unfoldingshifting to a more human-centric approach to marketing is becoming increasingly essential.

“Human-to-human (H2H) marketing is a counter-movement to the last 20 years of digital marketing, which has really treated marketing as about numbers, impressions and clicks,” William Gadsby Peet, co-founder and director of strategy at digital marketing agency Literal Humans, says Sifted.

“We see H2H marketing as a rebellion against that and a move back towards treating the people we market as humans, where advertising speaks. to and with potential customers, no at them,” he added. “That means creating content and ads for them that are really exciting and inspiring.”

What do you need to know if your startup wants to adopt H2H marketing? Sifted chatted with the experts.

Use the power of social media

Despite its launch only five years ago, TikTok has become an invaluable tool for marketing teams and a crucial platform for H2H marketing.

Because more than 60% of the social media platform’s user base is Gen Z – and research has found that they promote authenticity — startups have the opportunity to be vulnerable and learn from feedback. This can be achieved through user-generated content, such as public unboxings or by going directly to users through a company account to generate a conversation.

“Nowadays, we can no longer separate brands from people”

Sylva Faye, social media manager at Literal Humans, explains that a recent example is a new jewelry brand she launched on TikTok a few weeks ago.

“Comments from the first video we posted showed that people didn’t like the jewelry,” she says. “So in the next video, we acknowledged the feedback and asked what users would like to see for the products, which allowed us to build a community around collaboration. Because we had a personality and recognized their opinions, it immediately generated trust between us.

According to a study from creative consultancy Lippincott, brands that exhibit human characteristics such as authenticity and empathy have financially outperformed their peers by up to 50% over four years.

“Nowadays, we can no longer separate brands from people,” says Jessica Ko, CEO and co-founder of creative cloud storage solution game book. “A brand can be a friend you can trust. It should sound like someone you’ve known for a long time. He should care about social issues like the rest of us. By making it more human, brands can really connect with their audience. »

Create authentic messages for a human audience

Alice Chan is Head of Global Marketing at Typed, a documentary collaboration tool. She believes that in today’s era of online overexposure, customers have become numb and insensitive to advertising and marketing.

“It’s almost an offense to consumer intelligence if we use the generic language and tired messages that we’ve all heard a million times,” Chan told Sifted. “As humans, we value honesty and vulnerability, and an authentic message plus a desire to deliver value as a brand goes a long way.”

“As humans we value honesty and vulnerability, and an authentic message plus a desire to provide value as a brand goes a long way”

Chan says Typed tries to use language that resonates with their ideal customer profiles (ICP) — or a high-level description of their target customers.

“While a lot of research and strategies can help, the most direct solution is to talk to these KPIs,” she says. “It’s not enough to put yourself in their shoes, you also have to walk and run inside them.”

Build a memorable brand personality

H2H marketing is not just for business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, business-to-business (B2B) brands can also benefit.

To research by Cognism found that creating content that tells a story and brings out emotions in your audience can improve B2B sales by 55%. Despite this, B2B marketers are often the industry that lags behind when it comes to creativity and risk-taking.

“Most companies would much rather offend anyone than show off a brand personality, especially in the B2B space,” says Gadsby Peet, adding that while it can be intimidating for startups, you’ll always face a competitor with more budget and more resources.

“A true brand personality is almost a unique selling point in itself, and will make all your marketing efforts much more powerful”

“You need courage to really push yourself forward with H2H marketing,” he says. “A true brand personality is almost a unique selling point in itself, and is going to make all of your marketing efforts that much more powerful.”

Shape how and when you hire with H2H principles

For Gadsby Peet, putting H2H marketing into practice means prioritizing hiring a social media manager to focus solely on social media marketing.

While many startup founders add social media to their daily to-do list on top of everything else, he thinks a social media manager should be in a company’s first five hires. This person must live and breathe the voice of the brand when engaging with customers, while also engaging in social listening that ideally carries over to business strategy.

“Marketers need to do more than ever to not only cut through all the noise, but to engage leads in a meaningful way and to catch people unsuspectingly,” says Harrison Moore, CEO of Worker Feedback Club, a communication app for construction workers. “In a world increasingly mediated by impersonal technology, it’s pretty clear that the path to a prospect’s heart is through human contact.”

“In a world increasingly mediated by impersonal technology, it’s pretty clear that the path to a prospect’s heart is through human contact”

But changing your startup’s strategy to a more human approach shouldn’t be a linear process. Experimentation is key, so commit to an approach and accept that there will be times when you will be pushed back, but don’t give up if that happens.

Faye adds that knowing and understanding your brand story thoroughly will also help your marketing content stay aligned with business goals.

“Consider why you’re trying to build a portfolio that represents you,” she says. “Are you trying to build followers? If you are, why? It’s good to be responsive, but it’s better to have set goals to work towards because if you don’t , consumers will see through.”

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