The Human Side of Marketing

The first quarter of 2022 has come and gone, as has tax day.

How are you doing following your 2022 marketing strategy? What have you changed, if anything, this year?

It has been interesting to see how the events of the last two years have affected marketing. While the trend has been to utilize more technology (i.e., digital marketing strategies), I am reading more and more about the push-back against increased digitization and automation of interactions between brands and consumers. Today, there seems to be a desire to make marketing more human again. 

While technologies such as AI and data-driven marketing continue to grow, the overarching focus will be on people, not technology. Experts predict marketing trends that will dominate 2022 will be Customer Experience, Employee Engagement, and Content Visualization. 

Let’s briefly touch on the last trend, Content Visualization. This has been happening for a while, but the future of content marketing truly lies in video. Businesses must integrate video content like product demos, webinars, and live video events to keep their content fresh and aligned with what consumers are looking for. Research shows that the majority of people prefer visual content to plain text, and I couldn’t agree more. We are digesting content constantly and digesting it visually is just easier and faster, IMHO. 

Two Category Focus

For the purposes of this blog, I’d like to focus on the first two trends in the Human Side of Marketing: Customer Experience and Employee Engagement. Are these two categories really marketing? They sound like jobs for the operations and human resources teams, don’t they? 

The answer is yes, today, they are marketing. In fact, the definition of what we consider as “marketing” is constantly changing and becoming broader. The future of marketing (and business) is going to be more diverse, inclusive, and connected to real customer needs.

Because of this, marketing has moved beyond branding and advertising. Marketers must work together with other departments (i.e., operations, HR) to focus on building great customer and employee experiences, and engaging both groups for long-term relationships.

In other words, a marketer cannot out-brand or out-advertise a poor customer experience. As consumers, we expect world-class customer service from every brand we engage with. In effect, expectations have never been higher, so companies need to look internally at their customer experiences and make real, honest assessments and changes.

Additionally, an awesome and clever hiring campaign cannot override the negative aspects of an employee’s experience. Word-of-mouth and online reviews are not only important for gaining customers; we’ve seen companies unable to hire because of past employees’ negative – albeit honest – reviews. We can drive candidates to your website and social media channels, but if they don’t like what they see when they get there, our efforts are ineffective.

The Disconnect Between Hiring and Marketing

Another gap that the Pandemic exposed was the disconnect between hiring and marketing. In some cases, HR was putting out one set of messages, and marketing was doing something totally different. This created confusion in the marketplace and negated both efforts.

On the other hand, some companies who hadn’t regularly engaged in advertising and branding activities suddenly found themselves starting from scratch. A good example of this would be a company whose market/customers are elsewhere but they need to hire locally. For more about our thoughts on how hiring has changed, see our blog.

Where do you begin improving customer experiences and employee engagement? At Gaslight, we help our clients by conducting surveys, interviews, and other research as part of a Brand Audit. By doing so, we can assess where your strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities lie (SWOT analysis) in regards to your customer experience and your employee engagement. 

This part of the process can be painful – no one wants to hear how customers and/or employees are unsatisfied. But herein lies the catalyst for change; armed with this information, we will collaborate with your team to brainstorm internal and external solutions, recommendations, and strategies to return to the human side of marketing.  

The Basics of Success Remain the Same

While marketing trends come and go, the basics of success remain the same – understand the needs of your audience(s) and communicate with them clearly and consistently. After all, your brand is not only what you put out there – it is what others say about you when you are not in the room. Looking at the entire customer and employee journey will help you craft a truly authentic brand. But you have to put the work in – and there is not an app for that 😉