In 2012, Nielsen's worldwide survey indicated that "92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising." Compare that to the mere 29 percent of respondents who trust mobile phone text ads, or even the 58 percent who trust branded websites.
Trust is huge, but we don't tend to easily trust companies by themselves. Companies are, after all, designed to make money, so how do we know if what they're telling us is true or simply a ploy to get us to buy?
Humans trust other humans, so the smartest companies don't act like companies at all--they act like people. Human to human.
We still need to market our businesses, so how can we do that with the H2H focus?
Show the people behind your logo. Let your clients get to know you as individuals who came together to deliver a useful product or service.
Speak to your clients as if you're speaking to a friend. Use real language rather than talking points. Empathize with them and seek to understand their needs, just like you would want if you were in their position.
If clients reach out to you, reach back as quickly as possible. Don't delay in an effort to craft the perfect response. Let them know you're listening, and if you don't know the answer, tell them so, then go above and beyond to find the solution.
No matter what industry you're in, your job is to solve each client's problem. Make yourself available by phone, online, and in person if possible. Serve selflessly. Don't ask them to leave a review or tell a friend. If you do your job right, your clients will spread the word about you without being asked.
Be Visual and Interactive
Give your clients a sneak peek at company life behind the scenes. Candid photos or videos of your employees and satisfied customers (used with permission, of course) are great ways to let your potential clients see what your company culture is all about.
You can also do interviews with your customers about how your product has impacted their lives. This gives your potential customers an idea of who is working with you and of the real-life application of what you do. It's no longer an abstract idea from a company who's trying to sell, sell, sell: it's a solution enjoyed by people just like them.
Think User-Generated Content
Get your clients involved with what you're doing. Engage them in conversations online, or host contests and events. For example, a simple Instagram photography contest garners tens or hundreds of photos of your happy customers using your product, essentially advertising for you. A generous award for the winners gives them a reason to talk about you again. All the while, you're celebrating your clients and giving them something to look forward to and have fun with.
When you sit down to plan your marketing strategy, think about the people you're trying to reach. Think about them as individuals with needs, wants, and vulnerabilities like yours. Take the H2H approach and watch your company thrive.