We marketers have assembled an automated army to forage the frenzied landscape, entire “marketectures” dedicated to connecting with our primary audience—or for that matter, secondary audience, or anyone who’s breathing on a bad day. Words like “buyers’ journey” have emerged with gravitas, while the original “B” word (brand) has quietly settled into the loveless, measureless background.
We’ve got massive content strategies, digital libraries, webinars, and white papers that speak to TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU audiences. We’ve got SEO, SEM, and PPL strategies and sophisticated marketing platforms sprinkled with A/B-tested landing pages and campaign attribution models to capture and analyze every breathing entity that wanders in. We’ve got an array of customer engagement tools to retarget, predict buying behavior, and create a “look-a-like” model of my customer base, along with our beloved automated assistants that nurture with seemingly non-prescriptive cadence, gently (or not) offering a myriad of valuable resources that convey our undying desire to be helpful. And of course, we’ve got an entire suite of analytics programs to analyze every click and ensure that I’m squeezing out every last drop of possibility.
The marketing funnel has quickly turned into a tornado of technology, and the reality is, the data analysis alone could be my full-time job.
Then one day, I did this crazy thing—I took a breath. I stepped away from my constantly crazed world, and I literally sat down to shoot a video testimonial with a customer, a lovely man who ran IT for a bank in Fort Lauderdale. Having never met the man, I looked him in the eye as we chatted about the crazy compliance requirements he was facing and how tough it is for a little bank like his and so many others. He talked about how his job had expanded exponentially and how our product had helped him not only meet the compliance regulations, but also saved him so many hours of work and internal resources that he frankly didn’t have.
He talked to me about some other equipment he was looking to potentially swap out for ours, and I scheduled a meeting with our VP of engineering to discuss his product needs. He was a real person who was feeling real-time issues that our company had the capacity to solve. It reminded me of why I got into marketing in the first place.
I walked away with empathy for him due to the problems he was up against and respect for the diligence it took to find a solution. I felt proud that we had built something that helped his situation and was left wanting to somehow help him more. However, more importantly than any of that, I walked away feeling a connection—a human-to-human connection in a world that’s so lost in automated everything. It was authentic and real—something no ROI-driven, quantifiable funnel metric in the world can ever deliver. It was a pure person-to-person connection that I have a feeling will go farther than any incoming lead ever could.
Today, the possibilities are endless when it comes to ways to connect with our audience. Our “everything” environment is impressive, impactful, and almost awe-inspiring. Now don’t get me wrong: We have amazing tools and data intelligence beyond anything we could have imagined 10 years ago, and I am the first to say I love it all! It gives me the knowledge to make business-critical decisions. However, it can also be lacking in other areas that are equally as important.
This past week I was reminded about the heart of marketing—reminded to look beyond the technology marketing storm, beyond the quantification and qualification of it all, and remember that real people with real problems to solve are behind those metrics. I was pleasantly reminded that a real, honest, authentic, human-to-human connection is more powerful than any captured lead or prospect ever could be.
Yes, the modern-day wonders of technology are amazing, as long as we remember that while the tools help us get to the right people, truly connecting with them is where the real magic happens.