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As consumers become increasingly desensitized from a crowded and convoluted digital marketing landscape, some experts say it is time to make marketing less digital, more human. When online marketing began, the Internet was touted as “leveling the playing field” for businesses, brands, and entrepreneurs to have equal, unfettered, and direct access to a global audience of potential customers. The World Wide Web, email marketing, search engine marketing, and then social media marketing, were seen as rich, virgin territories with unlimited potential for marketing pioneers to make fast money.
But times have changed, and so have consumers.
A recent study by the McCarthy Group found that 84% of millennials do not like, and do not trust, traditional advertising. A separate study from Forrester Research found that only 1% of business-to-business marketing leads convert – which means that 99% of all marketing effort and advertising expense is wasted.
Add to that the declining use of social media (as cited by Edison Research), ongoing privacy and data breach concerns, information overload, consumer fatigue, audience fragmentation, and the massive transference of big brand advertising budgets from traditional to digital media, and all signs point to a tremendous market correction.
“We are in an online marketing crisis,” says Amber Vilhauer, an industry-leading marketing strategist and founder of NGNG Enterprises. “Consumers are being pitched to constantly and no one is paying attention.”
Vilhauer is the launch manager who designs and executes digital strategies for powerful online brands and industry leaders such as Mike Michalowicz, Joel Comm, Susie Carder, Lisa Nichols, and Les Brown. She believes that attracting new clients in the online space requires business owners to stand out by making a more human connection with people. “The market is saturated, people are becoming desensitized, and marketing lingo isn’t working,” Vilhauer explains. “It is human nature to connect with others; that’s the reason social media grew in popularity so quickly. The solution isn’t more ads and more automation. Instead, we need to create more human connections in our digital world. You have to prioritize making human connections in every aspect of your business.”
In marketing circles, that approach is described as “H2H” – human to human marketing. Jenna Gross, contributor to Forbes.com, says, “Adding a personal touch can accelerate the growth of authentic relationships that can’t be replicated in computer-generated communication.”
But for Vilhauer, H2H is not another marketing tactic but an epic paradigm shift for describing what needs to happen for businesses to be successful online today. Without that human connection, Vilhauer believes it will only become increasingly difficult for smaller, heart-centered businesses to make themselves seen and heard online. “The fierce competition for attention is drowning out smaller brands,” she says. “If you’re an author, coach, speaker or small business, you risk getting lost in the noise and becoming invisible in the marketplace.”
H2H means creating memorable and meaningful experiences for people before, during and after they buy. It also means less reliance on scripted sales and customer service interactions while talking to people more authentically.
Vilhauer says that one of the most effective ways to create human connection in the digital world is by leveraging video. “What we’re seeing now in website design is a lot more video and imagery, and a lot less text. And there’s a reason for that,” she explains. “People just can’t read content the way that they used to. And that’s a challenge.”
Vilhauer overcomes that digital attention deficit with video. But she cautions that slick, overly-produced and heavily-scripted videos are not what consumers are looking for. “When I’m on video, I speak as if I’m talking to just one person,” Vilhauer says. “I am myself, I am conversational, and I don’t script things. This makes people feel like we are having a real-time conversation.”
According to Vilhauer, video improves efficiency and accuracy. People enjoy consuming it and are more focused with video compared to audio or text. But most importantly, video makes that human connection. “You can’t hide,” she says. “It’s transparent, imperfect, and real.” Vilhauer used video to improve her closing ratio from 25% to 85%. “People already felt like they knew me before the sales call,” she says.
Vilhauer has also mastered the human connection in her level of service – another key strategy of H2H. “While Amber’s ability to see the big picture sets her apart, service is what makes Amber exceptional,” says client Dan Clemens. “She anticipates, listens, recommends, listens some more, and follows through – quickly and accurately. She’s a valued resource and trusted partner!”
That is exactly the kind of result H2H marketing anticipates as a key factor in the success or failure of online brands in years to come.
But big brands apparently still need convincing. Marketing research presented by Gartner predicts that by 2022, profitability, not customer experience, will be the priority for those larger corporate brands. Vilhauer sees that as a gift to smaller brands with smaller budgets. “This means the little guy can stand out more than ever by delivering a personal touch,” she says. “I strongly encourage my clients to use video in every area of their business to grow relationships and create that human connection we all crave.”
Amber Vilhauer is an industry-leading marketing strategist who supports authors, speakers and coaches to establish a powerful, integrated online presence that gets results and empowers them to make a difference in their industry. She supports entrepreneurs through branding and website development, done-for-you marketing systems, and book launches.
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