For me it’s all about the eyebrows.
Frank Zappa a few decades ago commentated brilliantly with a quote that stood the test of time and has stuck with me since I first heard it in 1998.
An algorithm can tell you a story, but it can’t tell you the whole story because it doesn’t have the eyebrows.
What he’s talking about is nuance and emotion and the essence of humanity.
In everything we do in marketing there is a real balance to be struck between marketing science and marketing art. The science of marketing over the last 20 years, since Tim Berners-Lee gave us the world wide web, has been phenomenal. The acceleration of scientific growth, the ability to measure everything, to know everything, to watch customer journeys live as they’re happening. The science is phenomenal.
However over the last 20 years I’ve watched myself and others in marketing (and business in general) become very well-educated around the scientific side but at the price of the artistic side, the gut feel side, the emotional side.
That’s why I think in Simon Sinek’s brilliance in 2011 in a TED talk, he brought us back for the first time I think in the public discourse around marketing.
He brought us back to the why.
Now there were people before him, Neil Cross talked about authenticity back in the mid naughties. But ultimately Simon Sinek heralded a new age of looking at why we do things. And that’s infused everything in business, in life and certainly in marketing.
Because ultimately everything we do in marketing is about emotion.
We’ve lived through the ages of content, of context, of attention, even of authenticity to a degree and I would now argue that we are living in the age of humanization. I think we’ve been living in the age of humanization since 2011, roughly around the same time when Simon Sinek was giving his TED talk.
I think ultimately no one’s going to disagree with me when I say people buy from people.
We say that people are our most important asset in a business, and yet we rarely put people at the center of what we do. Some people pay lip service to that people centric model. But it really is the key I think to awesome marketing and great business.
Humanity for me is the key to our success.
Who’d have ever thought humanity would be the key to our success. Yet here we are in 2019 saying exactly that.
For me there are two things you can do to humanize your business right now.
The first thing is you can uncover your why.
This is super important obviously if you haven’t heard of Simon Sinek, if you’ve never heard of Simon Sinek definitely go and check out Simon Sinek’s TED talk on getting to why and how great leaders inspire action.
But also start thinking in the context of people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And it’s really important to think about that they buy what you do not why you do it. The why is crucial to everything, you don’t have to agree with me, it’s a given in my book.
I just want you to meditate on that.
To sell something once in a downward trend in retail market, is lucky. If you want to continue to keep customers you have to give them reasons to come back, and there is no better reason than giving them an insight into your why, which hopefully matches and aligns with their why of course. If you align your why’s I think you get a customer for life, if not life certainly a longer period and the lifetime value of that customer goes up which means the cost of acquisition goes down.
The second thing you need to do is be a storyteller.
It’s all very well knowing your why, but you need to tell the story of your why.
So why are you doing things?
How does it impact on the way your business is run?
On the products and services you evolve and develop and offer?
But most importantly talk about and tell stories about the clients why, your customers why, start to signal to them that you’re relevant for them.
It’s a radical thought really isn’t it that all we need to do is really humanize our business.
After all this time in business, businesses have been running for thousands of years and it’s coming full circle back to people, because ultimately computers don’t have eyebrows people do.