You Ask, I Answer: Being More Human in Marketing?

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You Ask, I Answer: Being More Human in Marketing?

Katie asks, “What does being more human in marketing mean?”

Being more human in marketing means using automation sensibly, empathizing with customers, and doing things that don’t scale.

You Ask, I Answer: Being More Human in Marketing?

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Christopher Penn 0:00

In this episode, Katie asks, What does being more human and marketing mean? Or it’s a big question because being human is itself a big question.

So there’s a couple of different ways to tackle this.

But I want to start off with a caveat.

B being human isn’t necessarily the aspirational goal that initially sounds like, it sounds great, it sounds very positive, until we remember that human beings are in general kind of a blight on on the planet, right? We are as a species, highly self destructive, we are destructive to a lot of other things, too, we’re incredibly self destructive.

We’ve had something on the order of 28 days of warfare every day of peace.

And we’re generally not very good at making decisions, particularly decisions over the long term, we tend to be fairly short sighted creatures, highly emotional, and problematic in a whole bunch of different ways.

When we say be more human, I assume we’re trying to be more like, say, the Dalai Lama, and not so much like Hiler.

But both of them are human.

Right? Both of them are, we’re human beings.

So we want to be very, very specific when we say let’s be more human and marketing.

Now, to the actual substance of the question.

Being more human, in marketing can mean a couple of different things.

First, it means using automation sensibly, right? Using automation, just save time where it makes sense to save time, and word doesn’t impact our ability to interact with other humans in productive ways.

So there’s a trend, understandably, right now, to automate everything possible, so that you have as little human interaction as possible, particularly in customer service, because humans are expensive, right? We cost a lot of money.

Health care, benefits, salaries, machines, it costs substantially less.

So that’s one aspect.

But the part they think that really defines humanity, in business, and in the sense of being more human, is that it’s scale or the opposite of scale, human beings, don’t scale well.


But that lack of scaling is what communicates value to us, it communicates that this is, this is a valuable interaction, right? When you sit down to have dinner with somebody, you cannot be sitting down to have dinner with more than a certain number of people, right? There’s a limit to how many people you can have dinner with and have a productive conversation.

Certainly, if you want to have a deep conversation, you’re probably only going to have dinner with what, three, four or five, maybe six people at the most after that it starts you get stuck in the loss side conversations.

You want to have the most direct conversation, you have dinner with one other person.

You can’t scale that.

There’s no way to scale, they have dinner with a million people.

You can email a million people, but you can’t have dinner with them.

You can send a million emails, you cannot sit down and write handwrite a million letters even just wrote the person’s name, and hi, right.

Hi, Chris.

Next one letter.

You’re not going to write out a million of these in any reasonable time fashion.

But yet, we value a handwritten letter, we value a phone call made by an actual human, we value a video chat with an another person.

One of the reasons why, you know, apps on our phones have so there’s so much messaging is because we’re messaging people, very specifically very intentionally, in a way that doesn’t scale, right? We might have a group chat with maybe 10 or 15 or 20 people, or probably about 1000 Probably not 10,000 people in a group chat.

I hope not your phone would never stop buzzing, you’d never get any sleep.

It is easy to send a blanket social media status, right you post a tweet or you post something on LinkedIn, it’s a lot harder to individually direct message every single person, even if you have 100 Just 100 friends that’s a lot of it’s 100 messages to send a time.


And yet that lack of scalability is what communicates value when you get a direct message from a friend that is just to you is like hey, this is pretty cool.

This person is just reaching out to me being more human you know machines and AI can can generate things that sound good but, but lack the actual judgment behind the scenes.

Humans do judgment machines generally don’t.

And judgment means knowing what the rules are and when the rules don’t apply.

On the scalability front, it’s easy to use all these really cool AI systems to to generate, you know, 1000 cool looking oil paint thinks it’s really time consuming to paint even just one by hand.

So being more human means doing things that don’t scale.

Right? It means showing that you care, showing someone you care by doing something that’s difficult or time consuming, something that you have to trade off, right? If I paint you a painting that has time I spent on the paint that I could have been doing something else, if I write one email, but I sent it to a million people, everybody knows the I didn’t really write that for you, I just wrote that.

And being more human means in a positive sense, means having empathy, empathy, we use that term a lot, and it gets misused a lot.

Empathy means knowing what someone else is experiencing and taking action on it.

Alright, sympathy is expressing emotions in support of somebody else’s feelings.

But empathy is knowing what someone’s going through and taking action on it, right.

So if you see somebody who is sitting down and tired, after after walking a whole bunch, you get them a bottle of water, right, because you know what they’re going through, you recognize what’s going on, and you take action on it.

And that is a key part of being more human that machines are not capable of doing yet, right, they can emulate it to a certain degree, but it’s still not quite there.

So that, to me is what being more human means It means exercising empathy, exercising judgment.

And it means doing stuff that doesn’t scale.

Right? The less something scales, the more valuable it is to us.

And the more something scales, the less personal is.

So if you want your marketing to seem more human, try doing things that don’t scale, especially if you’re a small business, especially if you’re starting out.

And you don’t have you know, a million people on your client roster.

Just start doing stuff that doesn’t scale that but that shows commitment to that you understand the other person.

Real simple example, when I’m about ready to publish a new piece of research, or something, I always send it out to our clients first, right, they get it before our Slack community, they get it for a newsletter list, they get it for social media content.

Even if it’s just 20 minutes before, I always want our customers to know, you are first in line, our paying customers are first in line.

And a lot of companies don’t necessarily do that.

They will think that way.

Like, hey, here’s a new study, right? Our customers get the new thing before anybody else.

And they don’t have to fill out any forms.

We know who they are.

So they get they get that special access they’ve made to feel special, because that’s empathy.

I know what someone else is experiencing.

And I can take action on it.

When you get an announcement, hey, download this new paper, right? You know what’s gonna go on here like yet another form to fill out and some of them from sales gonna call me and so on and so forth.

By take action, say, Hey, here’s the new thing.

You want to do anything else? I’m just giving it to you.

That short circuits that loop and makes you go, Oh, yeah, you get me, you get where I’m going with this, you, you understand that? I don’t really want to fill out another form, but you’re just giving me the thing like, yep, that’s because I value you as a customer.

So that’s what being more human and marketing means.

Now, there are many, many more dimensions of it, because there’s so many more dimensions of being human.

But that would be my first take on it.

Good question.

Thanks for asking.

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