• Introduction
  • What is human-centered marketing?
  • Why is empathy a major component?
  • How to ask the right questions
  • Great examples of human-centered digital content
  • Conclusion

Reality check. Humans don’t care about your product or service. They care about their own problems much more than they care about your company. It’s time to reverse direction and think towards a more human-centered approach to your digital marketing. Because of this reality, content is crucial. All types of human-centered marketing content — blog content, video content, community content, forums, and social media content — are relevant to staying competitive in the B2B industry.

Content is a method to connect with humans — and help them better understand their challenges and to problem-solve to a solution.

It’s important to practice human-centered marketing. It’s mandatory to remain competitive in 2020 and beyond. Because of COVID-19, customers now demand a more human-centered and empathetic relationship with their vendors. The virus has accelerated the need for empathetic, human-centered, and relevant marketing. According to Janrain, 74% of consumers are frustrated when a website’s content holds no interest for them. Give your audience relevant marketing and quality content that is created for them. To do this, you will need to clearly define your audience, practice empathetic marketing approaches, and ask the right questions.

What is human-centered marketing?

“Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem-solving […] It’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor-made to suit their needs.” — IDEO

The human-centered theory is usually tied to user-experience and working through design challenges for mobile applications, websites, and services. But it doesn’t have to be all about UX. It can (and should) also be formally applied to digital marketing.

Traditionally, marketers approach their marketing product-first. The B2B company has a product (or service) with a considerable amount of features that they consider is the best on the market. The value proposition is based on the product and the company (and not on the customer).

The human-first marketing approach is must more empathetic. It takes a better understanding and empathetic knowledge of the customer to identify the core motivations, challenges, concerns, feelings, and struggles their experiencing to provide effective digital marketing. The company messaging can then be molded around these core finding — leaving a much more effective means of engaging a customer.

Why is empathy a major piece?

Empathy is at the core of human-centered marketing content. In order to stay competitive in the digital world, we need to create marketing content that is intertwined with human understanding.

This begins with empathy.

Empathy is understanding the audience at their level — can you relate to them? Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

To get to this point, marketers have to have conversation with their customers. As simple as it sounds, this is a common mistake that many marketers make. They remain out-of-touch with their audience. They don’t speak to the sales team regularly. Their digital marketing tactics are out-of-touch with their audience. This leaves their strategic tactics stuck.

To remain empathetic, marketers must practice active listening. Get in touch with your audience where they traditionally hang out online. You can try these empathetic tactics;

  • Schedule quarterly in-person customer meetings
  • Attend a trade show with the sales team
  • Engage in digital forums (or conversational rooms)
  • Create conversational marketing through social media

This human and real approach to online interaction must translate over into the content creation process. And this process begins with stepping into an ‘empathetic mindset’ — and being real about knowing the audience and caring about their challenges.

Tony Zambito, a considered marketing expert in this area, explains this as three phases’ marketers and organizations journey through. He calls this framework: Human-Centered Marketing –  H.U.M.

Read more: B2B empathy marketing

How to ask the right questions

In order to better understand your customers, you must ask the right questions. And these questions should be open but also in the right conversational context. If you do this, you will remain close to your audience and able to generate more effective marketing strategies.

For example during in-person interviews, to ask the right questions of your audience: never ask your audience what they want. It automatically places their thinking into a boxed mindset. And it automatically encourages them to navigate to a solution-first approach mindset, where they have thought of a possible solution to their problem without fully understanding the problem or dissecting it.

Here are a few examples of possible questions to ask;

  • What are you trying to get done currently in your business? What are your goals?
  • What content workflow do you provide to your website visitors?
  • What is frustrating you about your current content creation process?

Asking the right questions help you get to the root of customer challenges and problems. But also continuing to ask the question: ‘why’ . Why allows you to dig deeper into the context and gather more information on your audience. Human-centered content is deeply rooted in asking the right questions of your audience.

Read more: Human-centered interview questions

Great examples of human-centered marketing

The core concept of human-centered marketing is empathy and human understanding. And human understanding begins with asking the right questions and investigating target audience pain points, challenges, and emotions. Once you have a clear understanding of these components, your marketing tactics become much more human-centric. You position yourself as a problem-solver, providing tangible solutions to your audience.

There are a few businesses that understand the human-centered approach to marketing. They’ve created marketing campaigns and content situated empathetically towards their customer.

  • Basecamp does a fantastic job speaking the language of their target audience. The language is simple, unique and quirky, which is human-centered. Basecamp’s copy and content focus on everyday business project management problems – and builds a conversation around those topics to engage and entertain the online audience.
  • Workday has also taken the time to understand their ideal audience. They span the entire human-centered scope and target topics of their audience that are not directly related to their product or solution. Instead, they write about topics like “Three Easy Steps to More Impressive Board Reports”, which is a challenge of the target audience and is not solution-based.

Make sure your content marketing strategy is human-centered

Human-centered digital content is the next evolution of strategic digital marketing. Humans care about their own challenges and emotions. As B2B marketers, we must navigate the complex thoughts of our ideal audience to uncover authentic and useful digital marketing approaches that benefit our audience. To make more attract more relevant customers (and retain them longer), the human-centered approach will help B2B companies get at that point.