As I’ve already discussed, the historical philosophy of B2B risks becoming something of a marketing dodo, and we drastically need something new to replace it, or at the very least, reinvent it.
And that’s where human to human comes in.
Whether he coined the phrase or not, it’s clear that Bryan Kramer has done a fantastic job of getting us thinking, and his book and the myriad of conversations on the subject it has spawned are all very powerful source material.
I won’t repeat everything he’s said here. Instead, I’ll give you my view.
Social is not a nice-to-have, it’s essential
Firstly, to understand what human to human means, it helps to think back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Of upmost importance is the simple fact that we’re not just animals requiring physiological sustenance like water, food and shelter. We’re social animals, and we require much more.
‘Social’ is an interesting word. Its modern form has multiple meanings; ‘social media’ being the go-to thought. But actually social is about behaviour – human behaviour and psychology, how we share information, learn from one another, tell stories, and how we form relationships.
In fact, you can only forge a relationship through the sharing of stories. What do you do on a first date? What do you do with your friends? What do you do at a business meeting? During every one of these situations, without fail, you engage in storytelling.
B2B needs to create an emotional experience
And what’s more, every social action is underpinned by one thing – emotion. Unless you’re a robot, it’s there in everything you do and in every decision you make. Without consciously trying, we seek emotional experience and engagement from one another
That’s what human to human means.
And that’s why B2B doesn’t work anymore. Businesses do not have emotion. And nor do their products or services, but their people do.
That’s what we should be thinking about; building emotional, social relationships.
And don’t just take my word for it. Our friends at the CEB have evidence that backs up this approach from a commercial perspective.
We need to shift to a narrative that combines the brand, product and service stories we want to tell, with something more emotionally charged, so we can appeal to our audiences in a human to human way.
Sold. Or not? You’re right; theory is one thing, but what about in practice?
Step one is easy: change what you mean by the word ‘professional’.
The thing is, we’ve let that word dominate the theory of B2B marketing. It’s shorthand for being inauthentic, boring, humourless, in fact devoid of all emotion.
But look up its meaning – it doesn’t mean any of those things.
Instead, we should let it mean being knowledgeable, skilled, and willing to share this expertise with others.
Alternatively, watch this video – it’s a fantastic example of everything that’s wrong with ‘corporate’ videos.
But it’s also a fantastic example of emotional storytelling by the stock video company that produced it.
It’s professional – because it shows the depth of the company’s inventory, and its understanding of the power of video, of editing and of the right creative concept. But it’s not boring.
And most importantly, it’s an example of a B2B organisation acting in a human-to-human way.
What do you think? Does it work? And is human to human as simple as changing professional to a more authentic version of itself?
By DMA guest blogger Phil Borge, B2B Director, Threepipe