I recently had an awesome conversation with a CMO of a prominent Silicon Valley startup. During our conversation, I asked her what were some of the biggest marketing challenges she believed most startups—not just in Silicon Valley—but around the world, faced heading into the new year.
As she began to list challenges and actionable items, I patiently waited for her to mention one particular problem.
Surprisingly, she never mentioned the problem that I expected her to (although she did mention some very interesting things that I hadn’t considered). And if an astute, forward-thinking CMO of a prominent Silicon Valley startup hadn’t considered this problem, I’m sure there’s probably plenty of others in the startup space who haven't as well.
That one problem facing startups—is establishing and regaining the trust of consumers. That’s because studies show that within the last two years—brand trust has reached an all-time low. Here’s why humanizing your brand is one of the solutions to that problem. And just how you can do it.
The A.I. takeover is underway
Remember the days when you needed help troubleshooting a product or service you purchased from a brand—all you had to do was log on to their website or call their toll-free telephone number and speak with a customer service representative?
Unfortunately, when it comes to most brands—those days have come to an end.
According to MuleSoft’s 2022 Benchmark Connectivity Report, 72% of all organizational customer interactions are now digital. With those numbers only increasing each quarter,
along with the proliferation and pervasion of chatbots—customers are now finding themselves speaking more with machines about their issues—than with actual humans.
The most important question brands must ask themselves is this, ‘Do our customers prefer speaking with humans?’ Well, fortunately that question has been answered. And for a preponderance of people—it’s a definite ‘Yes.’ Surveys show that 86% of consumers prefer interacting with humans than chatbots.
In fact, 71% of consumers went as far as to say that they would be less likely to use a brand if it did not have human customer service representatives that were available.
Humans influence humans
Founded by actress turned entrepreneur Jessica Alba, The Honest Company, is a conscious lifestyle brand that sells baby, beauty, and household products. According to The Wall Street Journal, the brand is currently valued at $1.7 billion.
Besides having great marketing strategies and principles—a huge reason why The Honest Company has been such a successful startup isn’t because its founder is a popular Hollywood actress. It’s because Jessica Alba humanizes the brand as an authentic influencer and her values as a new parent aligns perfectly with her company's messaging and mission to provide safer products for new moms and their babies.
In her book, Visual Hammer, author and marketing strategist Laura Ries, expounded on the benefits of humanizing a brand by putting its founder or CEO front and center in the public for PR purposes. “If you want to make your company famous, we often advise clients, then you also have to make your chief executive famous too.”
Ries went on to state, “The founder of a company benefits from celebrity worship in two ways: (1) Everyone wants to know something about the person who runs a company. (2) Everyone assumes the products and services of that company reflect the values of the founder. When you are both, as Steve Jobs was, the PR potential is doubled.”
According to a Morning Consult study, 52% of Gen Zers and 50% of Millennials say that they trust influencers to provide good advice on the products they promote. Which goes back to something that every brand on the planet covets—consumer trust. And consumers trust humans much more than they trust brands. Especially when those humans are authentic like Jessica Alba. Which is why humanizing your brand is of the utmost importance.
How to humanize your brand
Now that you know why it is so important to humanize your brand. Here’s a few ways you can do it:
Present a public face that represents your brand and aligns with its values.
Create a relatable brand personality.
Make sure that only humans interact with customers whenever they reach out with a dispute or inquiry.
Only allow humans to create your brand’s social media posts.
All great brands have one thing in common—they connect with their core audience emotionally.
So, while most other brands in your industry are turning to artificial intelligence to communicate with their customers for the sake of convenience—give your brand an edge by building trust and an emotional connection with your customers through human interaction at every customer touchpoint.