STOP dehumanizing your audience

By Hugo Sanchez

It sounds rough, but it is an undeniable reality: dehumanizing our audience in marketing is both widespread and often unrecognized.

We dehumanize our audience when they become a means to our goals. It happens subtly, almost imperceptibly, as we shift our focus from people to metrics, from dreams to data points. When, instead of serving, we anxiously try to manipulate to feel in control.

It never works. Why?

In the must-read "To Sell Is Human," Daniel H. Pink explains that one of the most critical skill in sales is the ability to attune to other people. "Attunement," Pink explains, "is the ability to bring one’s actions and outlook into harmony with other people and with the context you’re in." When we abstract the people in our audience, we inevitably lose attunement with the ones we aim to serve.

But why do we fall into this trap?

Often, there is an underlying anxiety to perform, to "be successful." If you are as goal-oriented as I am, the goals you set and the metrics you look at will impact the way you engage with the world and what you pay attention to.

In many organizations, the emphasis is on measurable outcomes—clicks, conversions, sales figures. This pressure pushes us to focus narrowly on numbers, often at the expense of the less quantifiable aspects of human connection and brand loyalty.

How do we fix this?

This is precisely why I am a big advocate of Relationship-based Marketing. Not only is it extremely enjoyable to do business at this level, but it also cures us from the lures of the dehumanization trap.

Here are 5 tactics that will serve you in staying attuned to your audience:

  1. Redefine Success: What Matters Most to You?
    Increasing revenue is great, but I urge you to evaluate what really matters to you. What kind of impact are you looking to create in the world? By redefining success from financial gains to impact, we embody a much more powerful self.
  2. Include Human-Centered Metrics
    Make sure to add human-centered metrics that reflect the quality of customer interactions, such as customer happiness indices, engagement depth, and feedback quality. How can you measure the impact you aim to create?
  3. Savor the Sweet Taste of Relationships: Talk to Your Audience
    Invest time in having great conversations with your audience. Yearly appreciation lunches, check-in conversations, focus groups, or randomized one-on-one conversations with your list. Your goal is to understand how to best serve your audience, and get attuned to the market.
  4. Empower Customer Advocacy
    Turn loyal customers into advocates. How? Go the extra mile, and excel at providing value even after your engagement has ended. Get creative here. It can be a simple gesture that shows you care for them, such as giving them a call to check in a few months after your engagement.
  5. Personalize Communications
    Use data intelligently to tailor messages that resonate on an individual level. Personalization goes beyond using a customer's name; it’s about crafting messages that acknowledge their unique preferences and past interactions with your brand.

It’s crucial to remember the profound importance of treating our audience as people, not numbers. By redefining success, embracing human-centered metrics, and fostering direct, meaningful interactions, we can transform our marketing strategies into nurturing relationships that resonate deeply with our audience. This shift not only rehumanizes our approach but also builds a stronger, more loyal community around our brand. Let's commit to making marketing a heartfelt exchange, one that honors and uplifts everyone involved.

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