The feeling of being understood by others creates an elevated and unique sense of value in someone’s life. Think of the people in your life who really know you and get you.
Do you find an elevated value in these people that you don’t feel with others who know you on a more superficial level? Are they a more important part of your story? Do they want to help you in your life? Do you implicitly trust them in a way you wouldn’t trust those who don’t understand you on this level?
Obviously, this is something we get primarily from our close friends, partners or family. But when talking about brands people often say things like, “that brand gets me.” And when someone feels more deeply understood by a brand then that brand has created more value for them. This has an emotional and tangible effect. They have “bought in” to that brand and are willing to pay a premium for products and services that brand offers.
Humanizing your business’s strategy is a pathway to creating more of a human-to-human connection that will create an elevated value in the lives of the people you serve. That’s right, serve. Essentially, this requires an internal culture and an external focus around the notion that your business is really about helping, not selling.
This means recognizing that your job is to help people live the life they want to live…not selling them something that provides a narrow, marketing-oriented benefit. When you are helping someone, you are elevating your value in their lives. This is a mindset that is most transformational if it’s an intrinsic part of your organization. If you’re like most brands and for-profit business entities, you feel it’s your job to sell a product that has a benefit. So, you consciously or unconsciously do research that is really based in how you can sell something to your audience more than help them. This might seem obvious and perfectly fine. And it is if you want to think of yourself as a marketer more than a helper. Just be conscious that this decision is going to put an invisible ceiling on how elevated your value can become in your audience’s life. You might grow your business in this way but you may not create the kind of added value that insulates you from competitors who figure out how to offer the same benefit you’re offering in a better or more efficient way.
Understanding someone’s life and how a product could actually help that life in a deeper and more meaningful way can change the way your organization thinks and acts. For you to truly adopt this type of transformational philosophy you have to be committed to adding real value to someone’s life. Your goal is for people to feel understood by your business – not just be seen as a customer or consumer of it. They should feel more human when they interact with your business entity.
Where to Start
Encourage empathy as an internal culture driver. You can’t just start telling people you sell to that you are now more interested in helping them than selling to them. This is shallow and false and would likely set you back instead of forward. You have to live it yourself first. You have to demonstrate that you genuinely believe in what you’re saying. It would help to lead by example with empathy as a cornerstone of your organization. Commit to a culture of empathy…in terms of how you treat each other, work together, evaluate quality and operate on a day-to-day basis.
Hire and train people to feel inspired to help vs. settle for selling. Studies and a certain degree of common sense tell us that employees are generally more satisfied if they get some level of meaning from their work. Many companies outsource their inspiration to third parties. They don’t believe they can discover and implement it themselves. However, it is now possible to develop a humanizing strategy skill set within your organization. Your people can be taught to:
- Learn empathic listening & conversation skills so you can have a deeper understanding of the lives of your target. Have direct, meaningful conversations with them that get to a deeper place. Train your teams to be better empathic listeners and then use those listening skills to better understand how you can help the people you serve.
- In those conversations, get your target to tell stories and then know how to analyze them to develop more humanized brand and product propositions. Train your teams to know how to analyze the underlying motivations that come through more richly and nuanced in stories than through direct questioning. Get to the Identity Tensions that are in play in people’s lives that often aren’t yet conscious for them. Analyze the motivational themes that emerge.
- Develop creative human immersive experiences that allow a broader group of people in your organization to feel your target vs. just settle for gaining knowledge about them. We often operate on a set of facts that don’t really tell a story. Feeling someone operates on a totally different level. When you feel someone on an empathic level you are compelled to take action on their behalf. You get them on a level that goes beyond knowledge. You feel what it’s like to live their life. You get their story and get what you must do to connect in a way that shows you get them.
- Activating transformative human insights and ideas in a way that excites, motivates and aligns your organization. Transformative human insights and big ideas that connect on a more human level are generally asking your organization to think differently than it has before. Communicating these insights and ideas, then, should be thought of as creating a movement as opposed to sharing information. I can’t think of a movement that has been started by a PowerPoint presentation. You have to motivate and align your own people to effectively activate an insight. This is often overlooked and can be a place where great insights die.
Why it Matters
Let’s imagine the transformative change that humanizing strategy can have on your organization and on you.
- Your organization may now be spending more time listening to the people you serve than talking about yourself. What if more of your people spent most of their day listening to and analyzing the deeper needs of the people you serve?
- You will be helping someone by adding or creating value in their life. You will get your target and be seen as a more human-like business entity that gets them. For this you’ll be able to charge a premium and your target will pay it. And you will create an emotional bond with them that further insulates you from your competition.
- You’ll be spending less time debating benefits and reasons to believe that don’t add that much human value and more time figuring out how to create a more meaningful human connection with your audience.
- You will find that your people feel better working for an organization like this and you may feel better about leading one. This will be more fulfilling and stimulating and set the bar higher. You will be creating real, unique and tangible value in people’s lives. You can inspire your people around this idea. You will be creating value within your target’s life…even if it’s only in some small way… instead of just taking pride in hitting a sales goal.
Stop for a minute after reading this and think of the people in your life that get you. Think of how they make you feel…really feel. What is it that sets them apart? Is it how they listen to you? Is it the trust you have in them? The sense of honesty? The feeling that they are there for you? How they help you?
Your business can do that for the people you serve. If you really serve them with empathy. If you have a culture of helping – not selling. You can create an elevated and unique value if you humanize your culture and strategy around that promise.