What’s the one thing business owners and their employees, partners and even customers all have in common? Well, at the most basic level, they’re all human. So why is it sometimes so challenging for businesses to showcase this in their marketing efforts?
Perhaps some people don’t want to show any biases that might deter any potential leads. Perhaps some may want to present themselves as strictly professional. Others may not care about their tone at all, but would rather focus on finding the right keywords to implement throughout their platforms. Some may not even realize just how robotic their brand’s voice really is.
Either way, the truth of the matter is: humanizing your brand is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. People like making connections. They enjoy investing their time and money in people they know are on their side and that they can relate to. So in today’s highly competitive world, it’s definitely in every business’s best interest to find a way to connect to their customers and leads through humanization— no matter what industry you’re in.
Here are some helpful tips for how to start making your brand’s voice more real:
1) Begin From the Inside Out
In other words, start with creating good company culture. Your CEO(s) and upper management have the potential to spread that culture like wildfire throughout your company, allowing your team to be the true advocates you want them to be.
Then, post about it! If your company did a 5K, post a photo on Facebook of employees happily crossing the finish line. Then make it the cover photo. If your business’s office is festively decorated according to your brand’s colors and theme, post a video tour of it on your website. Or, if your team has recently completed a certification or won an award, talk about it on Google+.
Showcasing your team members on your website and social media platforms goes a lot farther than just having the basics. And, when your fans/followers/website viewers/etc. are able to see how great it is to work at your company, they’ll be more willing to trust your professional abilities.
2) Make Your Brand’s Tone Personal, Approachable and Engaging
For many businesses, portraying themselves as industry leaders is essential to generating leads and gaining credibility. And while that is certainly a crucial piece of the puzzle, it doesn’t negate the need for a human element. The reality is, you can still have professional, educational or even highly technical content that still incorporates a fun, caring or engaging tone.
Look at Dollar Shave Club (or any of the brands mentioned in Kim Speier’s blog “7 Boring Big Brands That Used Humor to Amp Up Their Marketing”).The Dollar Shave Club made an ad that was blunt, witty and silly. But most importantly, it was smart. It made a traditionally “boring” brand approachable, fun and human, three things that build trust, credibility and eventually brand loyalty.
3) Speak in Your Audience’s Language
You might have more than one group of people that make up your customer base. But none of those groups want to read or hear corporate jargon, sales talk or overly fluffed-up language.
If your company is B2B, communicate to your audience in an educational, informative way. If your company is B2C, strike an emotional chord. The better you are at learning your consumers’ language, the more approachable and “human” you’ll appear to them.
4) Focus More on Offering Resources Than Making a Sale
If you’re not already familiar with inbound marketing, you know that the statement above is essentially the gist of it. Give your viewers something of value to them (without the sales pitch) and they will seek you out for more. This whole step is about creating relationships through trust that’s built on you providing helpful, credible resources.
Inbound marketing also ties in with speaking your audience’s language. While offering these resources, be sure to do so in a way that most effectively speaks to your audience. You’ll also want to be sure to offer the right kind of materials they will actually want to consume.
No matter what your inbound marketing efforts consist of, try to keep them focused on how it will benefit the end user, not your company.
5) Keep an Active Blog on Your Website
This is an easy— and most importantly— free way to show a human side to your audience. Not only does keeping an active blog help with boosting your SEO, staying up to date with topics in your industry and becoming more purpose-driven in your efforts, but it also helps with showing your human side.
It allows readers to see that you’re current, active and educated, giving you more credibility. Plus, as we mentioned in the previous tip, it also helps with your inbound marketing by providing readers with information or educated opinions on topics they’re seeking out. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
6) Showcase Your Community Manager
If your business has a community manager or similar role, let him or her (or them) take the spotlight for your company by showcasing them on all your online platforms. Put his or her face on your Facebook page with information about that position and personal interests.
Display his or her Twitter handle or email address so readers to easily access them with questions or concerns. Giving people a face to your community manager will make them feel more comfortable with your brand as a whole and will help build a strong relationship between you both.
7) Apologize and Say “Thank You” When Necessary
As every human knows, we all have our flaws and we all make mistakes. But when it comes to our businesses, we often try to protect our reputations at all costs, even if it’s our businesses that are at fault. And we mustn’t forget that our businesses are, in fact, made up of humans.
So if you’ve dropped the ball somehow, come to your audience with a sincere apology and a potential solution to the problem. People will appreciate you addressing the situation head-on, as opposed to them coming to you with their complaints.
More than that, though, you should be thanking your fans/followers/customers/advocates/etc. often. Something as simple as posting a Facebook status that celebrates reaching 5,000 fans, thanking them specifically for helping you reach that milestone, goes a long way.
Or, sending out an email to current and past customers (perhaps on Thanksgiving) expressing your gratitude for their business. This is another way of making your audience see you as humans who care about them as humans, not simply a money-hungry company who’s uninterested in building relationships.
8) Be Available
This isn’t just a tip for upper management, nor is it just a tip for your customer service department. It’s for every member of your team and every part of your brand’s online persona.
Humanizing a brand can’t happen without actual humans being available to do it. For example, if someone at your business posts regularly to your social media platforms, he or she should also be available to respond to all fan/follower comments, questions, reviews, etc. Too often are there businesses that simply schedule out their social posts for the month, ignoring the importance of frequent engagement.
As mentioned in a Forbes’ article, “5 Ways to Improve Your Customer Service” by Sunday Steinkirchner, “In our own business, we value face-to-face interaction with customers, which is often a rarity these days. Whether it’s traveling across the country for trade shows or taking time for a quick coffee or Skype session, our strongest relationships are with the customers we know personally and keep in contact with regularly.”
This is a great opportunity to show that your business has a human side to it and is willing to help these followers get information, share ideas, and feel good about promoting your brand.
All in all, humanizing your brand has a multitude of benefits, including gaining credibility and getting your voice heard. Use these eight simple tips to get started today!