Keeping marketing human means your core story is never about you, your technology, or your products and services. As Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, states, you must think bigger than what you do. In the case of Zappos, Hsieh knows the shoes his company sells are incidental. Hsieh maintains that Zappos delivers “happiness.” That’s a tall order; and yet, by any standard, Zappos has one of the best customer service records around. *That’s* credibility.
At a conference I spoke at in September, I met one of the heads of Zappos’ customer service department from Henderson, Nevada. A warm, funny, and customer-service oriented character herself, Vanessa told me all about Zappos’ most famous customer service call – it lasted 8 hours (with a few breaks in between). Now *that* is commitment and something more meaningful than delivering shoes.
So where do you start honing your core story? Start by understanding what your offerings are really about – it’s never about the products themselves. What do your products help people do? What human need is served? That is the most important question your story must answer.
Deconstructing a recent example and re-creating it with a more human slant will illustrate the point. I met a company fairly recently in the biotech space that puts together conferences. All of its messaging focused on conferences. It turns out the conference business wasn’t doing that well because people aren’t necessarily excited about getting marketing messages to come to a conference. Big shock! I pressed the CEO a little further, and discovered that at some of these conferences, a number of start-ups were funded because they met the right investors.
A-ha! The human need isn’t for your conference. What attendees really care about is the chance to get their stories told and attract potential investor funding. The company wasn’t in the conference business; it was in the investor facilitation business. *That* is what attendees care about. This company needs to tell the success stories of start-ups that have been funded at their conferences. Through this lens, its own story of being a funding facilitator is credibly strengthened.
A conference company has lots of competition; a company that facilitates funding so dreams come true has a differentiated message in a crowded market. How much more compelling is it, then, to receive an invite to tell your story to investors who could bring your company to life, versus receiving an invite to yet one more conference?! It’s the difference between pushing products and communicating a higher human purpose that pulls in the right target audience.
When you know your value and how it aligns with the most human needs of your audience, you understand how to tell this story across everything you do. Keep peeling back your messaging until you “hit” on the most urgent human challenge of your audience. It’s not your products and services. Consequently, your marketing messaging shouldn’t focus on them. Instead, tell the urgent story of customer need, and how you serve that need.
So how are you keeping your core story human? Let me know!