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Human-Centered Marketing

Move from impersonal, AI-driven B2B marketing to authentic, human-centered strategies that build trust and foster genuine relationships with your prospects.

Move Beyond Impersonal Marketing

Marketers are now grappling with the challenge of finding an alternative marketing formula that attracts new customers.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed a concerning decline in the effectiveness of impersonal marketing strategies that once worked so well but appear to have burned out prospects.

Response rates have plummeted, making some tried-and-true methods a losing investment of time and money. Over the past decade, B2B marketing has become impersonal and disconnected, relying heavily on anonymous tactics like Google ads, mass email marketing, LinkedIn prospecting, and content produced with generative AI. This has further exacerbated the issue, rendering content marketing stale and robotic.

It’s time for a change to a more human-centered marketing approach that’s authentic, genuine, and results in long-lasting, trusting relationships with prospects and customers. This includes strategies like referral marketing, content written by real people, and a strong focus on marketing to existing customers.

In this blog, we’ll explore why we’re seeing these challenges in B2B marketing, explain what human-centered marketing is, and provide practical steps to do it yourself.

The Strategy Behind Human-Centered Marketing

Effective marketing strategies require a shift from traditional methods to a more human-centered approach. There are four key elements that make up a human-centered approach:

Treat B2B Customers as Human Beings

Human-centered marketing starts with recognizing that B2B customers are human beings with individual needs, preferences, and emotions. It’s more than just a transaction; it’s about building long-term relationships and creating meaningful interactions.

Highly Targeted Marketing

Human-centered marketing focuses on highly targeted marketing that speaks directly to the needs and pain points of specific customer segments and sometimes specific individuals. This precision fosters loyalty and positions your brand as a thought leader.

Create Loyalty and Trust

Loyalty is built through consistent, positive experiences over a period of time. By committing to authentic marketing practices, you can earn the trust of customers and prospects. Referral marketing, where satisfied customers recommend your brand to others, is a powerful way to create loyalty.

Make Messaging Authentic

Authentic messaging means communicating honestly and transparently. Content should be written by real people, not just generated by AI, to ensure it resonates on a personal level. This authenticity keeps your brand voice real and differentiates your brand in a sea of hyped-up marketing and anonymous AI-generated content.

But not just that, your value proposition needs to focus on the real strengths of your products or services. What do your customers say they love about your product? That’s what will shine through and resonate in a real way with prospects.

foster genuine relationships with your prospects

15 Ideas for Human-Centered Marketing 

Human-centered marketing is made up of various tactics that build genuine relationships, create real value, and foster trust with your audience. Here are a 15 prime examples:

1. Referral Marketing

Satisfied customers recommending your product to their network is more impactful than any other type of lead generation you can do. Referral marketing leverages both external and internal referrals to grow your leads. The key to success is to make referrals the cornerstone of your sales and marketing program. It is that important!

Encouraging satisfied customers to become brand advocates and share their positive experiences with others will amplify your marketing efforts, and build immediate trust with prospects, and considerably reduce sales cycles. This is not just about personal introductions. This can include customer references, advisory boards, case studies, testimonials, inviting customers to speak in events, etc.

2. Personalized Marketing

Tailoring your marketing messages and offers to meet the specific needs and preferences of different types of customers enhances the personal connection and relevance of your communications.

3. SEO / Findability

Ensuring your content is easy to find through search engine optimization increases website traffic, brand awareness, and lead generation. Specific strategies can be implemented to ensure your website is shown on page 1 of Google searches and other search engines. 

4. Email Marketing: Hold the Spam

Focusing on targeted, relevant, and personalized email campaigns can enhance engagement without overwhelming your audience with SPAM.

5. Event Marketing

Hosting or participating in events, webinars, and conferences enables you to engage with your audience in a more personal, face-to-face manner, and makes your company more legitimate in the eyes of prospects.

6. Customer Stories and Testimonials

The only thing about your company that is a long-term differentiator is your customer stories. No competitor can duplicate them. Sharing real-life stories and testimonials from your customers builds trust and demonstrates the real-world impact of your product or service. It’s also one of the most popular forms of content that prospects consume.

7. Renewal Campaigns

Replacing an existing customers is incredibly expensive, anywhere from 10 to 25 times more expensive than keeping an existing customer! Long term profit is all about keeping customers, especially for product companies, but also for service companies. The key here is to be proactive about customer retention with actual campaigns. You should be spending as much money or more on retaining customers as getting new ones.

8. Product Education

This is not technically a marketing tactic, but it’s more important for customer retention than almost anything else. Effective onboarding and advanced product education accelerated time-to-value and increases customer retention, ensuring customers get up-to-speed fast and get maximum value from your product.

9. Upselling Customers

As mentioned earlier, it’s far less expensive to market to existing customers than it is to non-customers. The easiest way is through upselling. There are three key types of upselling:

  • Traditional upselling: Offering more of the same product;
  • Cross-selling: Selling related products to existing customers;
  • Account expansion: Sometimes referred to as Land and Expand, this is expanding to different departments or divisions in the same company.

10. Community Building

Creating and nurturing a community around your brand allows customers to interact, share experiences, provide feedback, and generally get better at using your product. Also, this sense of belonging can strengthen customer engagement and turn customers into product ambassadors. 

This can be facilitated in a number of ways: In-person, virtual conferences, discussion forums, social media groups, and all of the above.

11. Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

ABM is about personalized campaigns tailored to specific accounts in desirable industries, locations, company sizes, etc. The key here is to first identify your ideal customer profile (ICP) and then find more just like them.

12. Customer Loyalty and Advocacy Programs

Loyalty programs have a big place in B2B marketing, offering incentives such as discounts, upgraded service, or VIP access to certain features or resources.

13. Social Proof and User-Generated Content

Leveraging content created by your customers, such as reviews, photos, and videos, builds credibility and authenticity, showcasing the genuine value of your product.

14. Personalized Video Prospecting

Using personalized video messages to reach out to prospects adds a personal touch and can significantly improve conversion rates.

15. Influencer and Analyst Relations

Partnering with influencers and analysts who believe in your product can create authentic connections with their followers and increase your likelihood of getting referrals. Similarly, maintaining good relationships with industry analysts will enhance your credibility and goodwill throughout the market.

Marketing in the Age of AI

Generative AI has a Role in All of This

It’s important to note that generative AI still has a place in human-centered marketing. AI is a valuable tool that can make processes faster and more efficient, and make content better. But it should enhance, not replace, the human touch. By leveraging AI to handle routine tasks and act as a writing partner, marketers can focus on building genuine relationships and delivering sustainable growth.

By implementing these strategies, you can foster trust, build loyalty, and drive long-term success.

About the Author

Gordon Johnson is the founder of FlashWorks Marketing with over 20 years in the training and learning tech space. As an expert in marketing strategy, content marketing, and lead generation, Gordon champions AI-driven productivity in marketing organizations.

Contact Gordon.