Stop saying B2B or B2C. Think HUMAN-2-HUMAN.
In 1980, Lakoff and Johnson published 'The Metaphors We Live By', what could be considered their seminal work, and a must read for anyone in communication. In this book they explored the fundamental mechanism of the mind. How the words we choose to use, influence and shape both our thoughts and behaviours within our physical and social experiences. So for example, if we choose to describe love as either a 'box of chocolates' or as a 'game of war', our choice of words uniquely shapes our experience of love, and therefore directly shapes our physical relationships.
So the same is true in marketing, when we use terms like Business-to-Business (B2B) or Business-to-Consumer (B2C) to represent our relationship with customers, our behaviours naturally lean towards a less personal and a more transactional relationship.
These words are synonymous with marketing's rise in the 1950's. A period of post war high-rise flats, Kermit the frog, and the four P's of marketing. A time when marketing was the young kid on the block and trying to establish itself. The terms B2B and B2C are synonymous with old marketing terminology, as was the definition of that time - the 'action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising'.
We need to stop using the language of B2C, B2B and find a new one that's more relevant to today's challenges.
Deloitte recently outlined it's top three thoughts on what the marketing trends would be for 2020. In summary, they required brands and businesses to:
- Authentically lead with purpose
- Refocus their values to elevate the human experience
- Converge ecosystems to spark new business models and greater collaboration.
At the heart of all three is a more human approach to marketing. In 2014 the term H2H marketing, or Human-to-Human marketing was coined. It represented a new concept; that behind every business, consumer, non-profit, or government body, there is a living, breathing human being who is making decisions about your company. Today people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves (to have a sense of purpose). People want to feel something (to feel more alive with a greater sense of connection to who they are). People want to be included (to feel they belong) and to shape and understand their world (to be told the truth and find their own meaning).
People are humans, and as such we want to connect with other people through a sense of purpose, belonging, and meaning.
Human beings are innately complex, yet we strive for simplicity. Our minds and their synaptic connections are wired to take the path of least resistance and draw thoughts up from our subconscious mind, based on their emotional strength. So our challenge as brand managers and marketers is to find, understand and explain the complex in its most simplistic and emotionally engaging way. This means finding the commonality in our humanity, and speaking the language of success, love, pain and failure rather than perfection, ego and judgement.
Now more than ever, in a world facing critical social and environmental decisions, today’s digitised marketing and predictive intelligence needs to find that “human” language. Not only to differentiate businesses in the crowded and often impersonal online space, but to build deeeper more authentic relationships.
When customers interact with your business, they want to feel as if they're interacting with ideas and solutions that are the result of human empathy, rather than some abstract algorithm. Sensing human input should be at the heart of any marketing interaction, because people not only equate a feeling of intention with purpose and meaning, but of trust and authenticity.