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4 Examples of Brands Putting Humans First in Their Marketing Strategy

The ongoing theme of 2021 is human connection. After spending a year behind closed doors and sitting in front of our computer screens, it makes perfect sense. People want to engage with people, whether it’s friends, family, co-workers, or a brand.

So what does this mean for your business? Well, like Lindsay, our CEO, said at the end of 2020:

“As we head into 2021, marketers still face a huge amount of uncertainty and have become expert adapters. They’re applying learnings from last year (a.k.a “The Year that Shall Not Be Named”) about how important it is to maintain strong relationships with our audiences regardless of our ability to meet in person. This year, marketers will double down on more engaging media like podcasts, videos, and live streams that truly set out to serve audiences before search engines. The brands that put human connection over algorithms will win.”

And guess what — she’s right. Just look at what people demand from companies — 64% want connections with brands. And 63% expect businesses to know their unique needs and expectations. But this isn’t just a B2C thing — 76% of B2B buyers expect the same thing.

If you fail to connect with your audience, how will you know what they expect (let alone how to give it)? According to one survey, people feel most connected to brands that:

● Instill trust (66%)
● Have values that align with theirs (53%)
● Understand them and their desires (51%)

This sounds a lot like relationship building. The companies that do it best will excel. Loyal customers are 5x more likely to buy again and 4x more likely to refer friends. But when you fail to meet expectations, you get the opposite — customers leave your brand. This frequently happens due to poor service, and it’s costing American companies an astounding $1.6 trillion.

So not only does building relationships potentially lead to higher revenue, it can save you money. This is especially true when you think of the cost of acquiring new customers. You’d have to invest five times as much to attract new customers than existing ones. In other words, it’s cheaper to keep ’em.

But the question now is, how do you give your audience the connection and community they crave? Let’s take a look at how brands are successfully pulling this off.

ZoomInfo: Offering an Experience Customers Want

Content creation is an effective way to connect with your audience. But if the topics, message, and tone don’t resonate, then it’ll miss the mark. Unfortunately, some content creators are playing the guessing game with their strategy. They’re creating content they think people want instead of what they know they want.

Then when the audience doesn’t engage, they’re left wondering why. ZoomInfo decided to create a podcast they knew their audience desired. They listened to their audience, and in return, their audience listened back.

“So basically what we did is then we started working on the show and really kind of digging into what is that we want this show to do for ZoomInfo, and also what is it we’re trying to accomplish in terms of ... For the listener. What do we want the listener’s experience to be? And how we can add on to the work that we’re already doing in terms of writing articles, pulling data, all this interesting stuff?” said Sam Balter, Director of Editorial Content at ZoomInfo.

Misfit Media: Adding Value in a Time of Need

The pandemic hit a lot of people (and businesses) hard. But it presented an opportunity for brands to reach out and lend a helping hand to the unfortunate. Misfit Media chose to shift its content towards helping its audience of restaurant owners maneuver through the “new normal.”

“Our podcast acts as a way for us to connect with restaurant owners and thought leaders in the space, which was really important for our business, with everything that has happened this past year. So obviously, throughout the pandemic, the restaurant industry was hit hard time and time again, and many restaurant owners needed help figuring out ways to creatively pivot their business model to an entirely takeout and delivering system with limited in-store dining … whilst still doing so with providing a unique customer experience.

“So our podcast has changed and our marketing to what Brett does, having guests that are thought leaders in the industry and can provide that information and valuable solutions in 40 minutes or less, and then cutting down those pieces to then be repurposed across channels. And where we can reach, ultimately, all those customers and create a community online because there’s not a big restaurant podcast community,” explained Camberlyn Sparks, Marketing Coordinator at Misfit Media.

Salesforce: Being Thoughtful to Inspire Conversations

Humanizing your brand is about having meaningful discussions with your audience. Finding ways to connect with your readers, listeners, and watchers in a way that’s helpful is always a win-win. You’re going out of your way as a brand to help your prospective customers. And in return, you’re building a reputation and audience.

When the pandemic hit, it was clear to Salesforce that the topic of the conversation was vital. They decided to put their audience front and center to learn about their current problems and how to help them.


“You have to really, at the end of the day, share some topic or conversation that is of value to your listeners. And so this year, I think it was a massive transformation for the show because one, 2020 hit, and the world experienced the first pandemic ever. And everyone was just like, ‘What the bleep is going on? What are we going to do?’ And it actually benefited us because Megan had this brilliant idea, ‘You know what? Let’s be a little bit more thoughtful and prescriptive, and let’s have a series.’

“And we really leaned into when the pandemic hit; we had a Leading Through Change series. It was all about how are you guys doing today? How are you actually feeling? Topics were all about that? And then as time went on and [we] realized, this isn’t ending, this is here to stay for a while — we’re not physically going to see each other for a while. Then we leaned into the business, and we’re like, ‘Well, what’s really topical right now? What do people want to know? How do marketers want to be better?’

“And that’s when we started being more prescriptive and leaning in with our campaign’s team of, let’s say we wanted to do an ABM series because now people have to be more thoughtful and more focused. They are having less money to invest in scaling in more grand ways, so now we’re more focused and topical. And so I think it’s just being very intentional, but also paying attention to what’s current. Like what’s going on in the world? Because if you’re talking about things [that] are irrelevant, then you’re missing the boat, and you’re speaking to deaf ears basically,” shared Tina Rozul, Product Manager at Salesforce and co-host of Marketing Cloudcast.

Lumavate: Being Authentic and Transparent (A.K.A. Real)

Take a look around social media, and what do you see? Many so-called gurus and influencers with positive quotes and anecdotes doing little to nothing for anyone. It’s like the modern-day ad — we see them, but no one pays attention.

So to truly stand out, you need more than positivity. You need truth and transparency: calling out B.S. for what it is, stating facts, and offering real help for overcoming real problems real people are having.

This is the direction Lumavate took with their content.


“And I think every senior marketer that has had a lot of success has kind of their little inner circle, right, the people that they can have real honest conversations with, where they completely tell the truth and are super transparent about what works, what doesn’t, what’s hard, what’s not. And my thought was like, where can I get that? From LinkedIn, I can’t, right.

“So much of LinkedIn and Twitter, any social media, is so positive these days; it’s not truly authentic. And even some of the other groups I’m in, yes, you can have authentic conversations with a couple of people, but there’s not a place where people are really just kind of pulling behind the curtain and showing you like the good, bad, and ugly of marketing. And that’s what our community’s got to be all about … So you don’t have to take a fun little quiz to get in around whether or not you fit these personality traits because that feels a little bit like us.

“And then when you get in, you’re going to have access to not just our team, but all of the people in our community to ask your hardest marketing questions, to say what you’re struggling with, to get help and feedback, and really a place where marketers help marketers. Because so many of us, I think, think about marketing as like, well, I can’t share my secrets. And I’m kind of like, it doesn’t really matter … What works for you may not work for me. And even if I’m your direct competitor, I can already see the stuff you’re doing … So stop holding back and start sharing, I think, is really what we’re all about,” explained Stephanie Cox, VP of Sales and Marketing at Lumavate.

By taking this approach, their brand was more than humanized — it came to life. It developed personality traits that resonated with their audience.

“It kind of just became a real life of its own because when you talk about brands a lot of times … What’s the emotion, or if your brand was a car, what car would it be? I guess I just don’t think about that anymore. I think about, like, if my brand was a person, what is their personality traits, right? What kind of person would they be, and what would they do as a person? And that’s why this idea of Real Marketers the show has influenced our brand so much because the people that best use our products are the ones that have these personality traits. And our show was designed for them, our community’s going to be designed for them, and it’s really influenced a lot more than I think we probably thought it would at the beginning of 2020,” Cox continued.

When you look at what each of these brands has in common, you see that it’s all about being human. If you want to connect with your customers, find ways to be genuine, helpful, and real. Do that, and you’ll have an audience that appreciates your content. To learn more about how these amazing brands are centering unique and successful marketing strategies around their B2B podcasts download the Podcast Strategy Lookbook.