At this time of year businesses often assess their performance of the past year and determine priorities for the year ahead, while looking at the broader trends that may impact their future success. Among these trends in 2020 is a focus on humanizing interactions and experiences in an increasingly digital world.
Deloitte highlights the implications of digital’s “omnipresence” in our lives today in its 2020 Global Marketing Trends report, which suggests, “Indeed, digital technologies can make it easier for us to navigate through our busy lives, but they also can erode the fundamental elements of human connection.”
The report asserts the rapid pace of digital change is adding to a buildup of unintended consequences, which the firm refers to as “experience debt.” Deloitte recommends paying down experience debt by elevating the human experience. The authors suggest businesses can do this by “…striving to address the unmet human need for connection by aligning customers, the workforce and partners to a common purpose.”
Investing in Real Life & Relationships
In a recent column for Forbes, Elaine Pofeldt predicts the human connection will matter more than ever in 2020. She suggests, “Smart entrepreneurs will find ways to devote the time they’ve freed up with technology to getting to know customers better.” She spoke with brand futurist Jen Kem who suggested, “Where you put your time and money needs to be in ‘real life’ and relationships.”
Pofeldt explains, “Your platform is your ticket to future growth. Ideally, every entrepreneur should try to reach their community in both the digital world and the analog one.” For instance, you might have a strong social presence while also hosting live, in-person events, like workshops or conferences.
The Role of Employees in Humanizing Your Brand
The need to create human connections was further echoed in a recent article on what marketers can expect in 2020, in which marketing expert Ryan Foland recommended, “Companies must focus on humanizing their brands by supporting their employees to be organic ambassadors. People crave authenticity, and they want to do business with people. Give your employees a chance to stand in front of your brand.”
Giving your employees a chance to stand in front of your brand requires more soft skill training and coaching. It can be a challenge to carve out budget and time for this training, given the amount of tech training that is necessary to keep pace with your technology systems and processes. But developing these soft skills is just as important to your operations and your bottom line. Earlier this year our own Liz Schaefer offered advice on how to integrate your tech and human assets. In her post, Fostering a Corps of Active Brand Promoters Liz shared tips for using automation and marketing resource management systems to help turn your local brand advocates into active brand promoters.
Focus on Company Culture
I recently had the opportunity to hear Molly Maid President Mary Kay Liston speak about the importance of culture to the Neighborly family of brands. It struck me that creating human connections requires a strong focus on your company culture. You need to be deliberate about your culture – define it, explain it. Moving your culture from concept to company-wide adoption and authentic practice requires HR and Marketing to work in partnership.
Making 2020 The Year of Human-to-Human Marketing
Whether partnering with HR to create human connections through company culture, or fostering brand promoters that can humanize the customer experience, Marketing needs to find ways to integrate these priorities into its operations and strategic efforts. Marketers can free up time to advance its focus on human connections by relying more on suppliers and by automating everyday tasks and processes, like managing revisions and approvals, tracking down logos or existing marketing assets, managing budgets, and managing custom requests for localized marketing materials.
Elevating the human experience is a priority for marketers in 2020. For this reason, we plan to share additional thoughts on this topic throughout the year ahead, including ideas on how to create and maintain the human connection through a variety of avenues, such as corporate social responsibility, charitable programs, community outreach and experiential marketing. Until then, on behalf of the entire Vya team, I offer our warmest wishes for a prosperous and rewarding new year.