Holy Smokes Batman! B2B Brands Want To Be More Human

The alternate title to this piece was The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same. Just today, ironically enough, I shared an article on LinkedIn with the title Consumers Expect More From Brands to Earn Loyalty with my editorial included which snarkly read “Haven’t we seen this movie before, like 5-10 years ago??!!

My snide comment above undeniably fits like a glove when it comes to the following title, which is the inspiration for THIS piece: B2B Brand Study: 97% of B2B Brands Want to Become More ‘Human’

There Is No Spoon

Last night I watched The Matrix... for the first time. I know, I know. How could I have not seen this movie ’til now? Well, forgive me, I was busy.

One of the (iconic) scenes involves a little girl and Keanu Reeves’ character… and a spoon.

The reason I shared is because I am starting to question whether or not some of us are in The Matrix or A matrix. Those of us in The Matrix don’t see the spoon. Those of us in The Matrix know damned well that:

  • Consumers want more in exchange for their loyalty to brands
  • B2B buyers are freaking people AKA humans and as such expect the marketing they are on the receiving end speaks to them as such!

“A new report by global marketing and communications agency, Allison+Partners reveals that whilst B2B marketers wish to evolve their brand strategy in favour of more human connection and conversations to engage with their audiences, they struggle to put this into practice.”

That is the opening line from the aforementioned article about B2B and being human. I love the use of the word whilst. What a great word! Anyway, it is the last 7 words that, upon reading, sends me to find the nearest wall to bangeth my head against.

Why oh why do B2B marketers continue to struggle to put being human into practice?

Here’s two theories:

1.  Old guard still in power. With each passing year, one would assume and hope, quite frankly that those who have not changed their calendars since 1995 are moving on AKA retiring. You know the type. They are the ones who still believe being human means having the ability to personalize a salutation on an email. However, this is a slow-moving process and many in these positions don’t want to nor think they are ready to cede their power and control.

2. Old tech still in place.  Legacy systems are still very much fully ensconced within the walls and halls of many a company the world over. BTW, I love the word “legacy.” Why not just call it what it is? Old. Archaic. Antiquated. Over the hill. Past its prime. Get the point? Of course you do but the problem and challenge is upgrading to new tech costs money, naturally. And what the aforementioned old guard does not understand is that the ROI on new tech — the RIGHT tech that is, will be astronomical in a relatively short period of time.

And yes, yes, yes I know, not ALL legacy systems are trash. I know so please spare me. But you and I both know that for the most part, legacy systems are “outdated computer systems, programming languages or application software that are used instead of available upgraded versions.”

We’re Only Human

Someone once said “Humans see what they want to see.” Well in this context B2B buyers see that far too many B2B marketers do not SEE them as humans.

That is an incredible over-simplification but that is the entire point! Way back in 2012 AND 2013 I wrote about this very topic; how B2B brands need to be more human. In 2014 my friend Bryan Kramer penned There is no more B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human, H2H in which he brilliantly and succinctly put it:

“The fact is that the lines are so far blurred now between the two marketing segments (B2C & B2B) that it’s hard to differentiate between the two anymore. We all need to think like the consumers we are, putting ourselves in the mindset of the buyer instead of trying to speak such an intensely sophisticated language full of acronyms and big words, in order to sound smarter.”

These posts are all at least 6 years old yet here we are, coming down the home stretch of 2020 and we are still dealing with the same issue.

Someone needs to tell me why.

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