‘People buy from people’ is an adage that is as accurate today as it has always been. Here is a simple example of what the phrase means. There are two coffee shops that you could visit in the morning on your way to work. One coffee shop serves average-quality coffee, but the staff always greet you with a smile and pass the time of day with you. The other coffee shop serves excellent-quality coffee, but the employees are rude and abrupt, and you never seem to see the same face twice. The chances are that you would choose to frequent the coffee shop that gives you a personal service with a smile and put up with the less than perfect coffee.
Humanizing a small, local coffee shop is not difficult to do. But the ‘people buy from people’ idea applies to all types of businesses. Whether you are selling to consumers or other companies, your customers are human beings who like to interact with other people and not faceless corporations. So, how do you transform your business from an inanimate object into a brand with a personality? Here are ten tips on how to go about humanizing your company.
1. Start at the Top
Humanizing a business is a process that must start the top and then work its way through the entire organization. In the above coffee shop scenario, for example, the reason that the employees are friendly is not entirely down to the individuals who serve the coffee. It is probably down to staff training and the ethos of the business. In a humanized business, the entire team is transparent and on show. There will be pictures and biographies of the management team on the company website and the CEO might even have his or her own Twitter account.
2. Start Treating Customers Like Friends
If you want to humanize your business, you cannot treat customers as though they are merely numbers on a spreadsheet. You must start to use the language that friends use when they talk to each other instead of the relentless hard sell. If you are launching a new product, for example, explain why you are so excited by this innovation rather than why your customers should buy it. If your friend tells you why they love a product, it will be much more convincing than a conventional advertisement.
3. Create Two-Way Engagement
Start a two-way conversation with your customers and make that conversation publicly available. Respond to comments left on your website, your social media accounts, and on review sites. When you respond to comments, demonstrate that you are open to ideas and that you take on board and act on criticism. Let your customers know that there are human beings behind the brand who are working to resolve issues and provide a better service.
4. Make Good Use of Video Content
Video is an excellent medium for showing the human side of a business. If you use real employees in your marketing videos, it will help to create a connection between your brand and your customers. There is nothing wrong with written content, but video content is much more personal. And, with more than 50% of people now watching online videos every day, marketing videos are an excellent way of getting your message across to a broad audience.
5. Open the Door and Let People In
Demystify what goes on behind the closed doors at your business by holding open days and producing behind-the-scenes marketing videos. People have a natural curiosity about how products are made and how companies are run, so let people see for themselves what happens inside your company. The objective of humanizing a company is to make your customers your friends. You would be happy to invite a friend into your home, so why not let your customers look behind the scenes of your business?
6. Communicate on the Same Level as Your Customers
Friends do not talk down to each other, so talk to your customers in a tone that recognizes you are equal and that you understand the customer’s issues and needs. Work with customers to solve their problems and, as mentioned above, encourage customer feedback and comments. If you want to humanize your brand, you will need to consider the tone you use in every letter, email, and post on your blog. You will need to use the same friendly style of language, whether you are promoting a special offer or reminding a customer about a missed payment.
7. Inject Some Humor into Your Business
Try not to be so severe all the time! Everyone enjoys a good laugh, so look on the bright side and inject a bit of humor into your marketing campaigns. Share some of your calamitous failures with your customers and let them see that you are human. Crack a few jokes on your Twitter account and lighten up in some of your blog posts. There are some types of businesses that do not lend themselves to humor, of course. Still, for most companies a bit of fun will make it easier for customers to relate to the brand.
8. Become a Storyteller
As a part of your transformation from a monolithic corporate entity to a business with a human side, you will need to stop trying so hard to sell and start telling more stories. You are aiming to cease being merely a business and become a group of friends instead. Of course, you will still need to market your products. But you do not need to hard-sell to get a trusted friend to buy something from you.
9. Get Your Employees on Board
It will be crucial that employees at all levels get on board with your company’s humanization project. Everyone who works for your business will have a part to play in projecting the personality of your brand. Every employee should be encouraged to think of themselves as a brand ambassador. And all employees should be encouraged to talk about the brand outside of work as well. If employees speak about your business in a positive way on their social media accounts, for example, it will add to the connection that people have with your brand.
10. Plan and Be Consistent
The humanization of a business will not be achieved without planning and a consistent approach. The new-look personality of your brand will have to be rolled out right across the company. If the company has a well-entrenched formal approach to business, it will take time for a more approachable persona to take root. You may also find that some employees may resist the change. You cannot, of course, force an individual to be friendly and cheerful. With persistence, though, you can change the personality of a brand.
The above points will help you get started with humanizing your business. But you will need to continue with your efforts if you want to maintain a consistent brand image. After the isolation that the coronavirus crisis has caused, people are looking for a personal approach to business more than ever before. So, if you have not done so already, now is the time to begin humanizing your brand and making your business more approachable.
If you have any questions, our team would be more than happy to help. Call us today at 215-393-9787.