Heart-centered marketing is considered by some to be an innately more feminine approach: more intuitive, more collaborative, and more nurturing of the customer relationship. Whether one categorizes those traits as “feminine” or not, there are a few crucial aspects worth exploring.

Authenticity

At the core of everything, is care. Having a genuine care and concern for your customers—for their goals, objectives, and needs—is a foundation for everything you hope to build with them.  If your ideal customers are other businesses, sometimes it’s tempting to focus solely on the business goals and needs, but at the heart of every business decision is a person. Harvey Mackay, author of How to Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, and founder of the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, is famously known for his “Mackay 66:” a 66-question profile sheet that his salespeople fill out on every business contact. The point is not to gather information on the company, but to know the people inside that company, as humans.  Where did she go to college? Do his children play sports? What is he or she the most proud of having achieved? Knowing the answers to these kinds of questions creates a foundation for relationship, a differentiating factor that is hard to quantify, and extremely effective.

As marketers and stewards of brands, we also must focus on relationship. Our structures and goals may differ, but we are all seeking to move a person to take an action, to do business with us. And ultimately, people don’t do business with logos and corporate mission statements; they do business with people whom they know, like, and trust.  Speaking truthfully, in human terms, in a voice that is both clear and authentic, we begin to engender that trust.

Collaboration

Marketing has undergone a radical shift in recent years, as social platforms appeared and then grew into the invaluable and necessary tools for reaching audiences that they are today. It’s no longer an option to avoid the social media landscape and the most successful companies will be the ones who use it, not to market to their customers, but to market with them. Giving customers a seat at the table has never been easier and more vital. As described in John Hagel’s book, The Power of Pull, the three I’s of marketing have been replaced by the three A’s: Attract, Assist, and Affiliate.  Rather than intercepting customers and exposing them to our message, we attract them and create incentives for them to engage with us. Rather than inhibiting customers from looking at competitors, we assist them and encourage co-creation of products and services. And affiliation has replaced isolation—why be so territorial about our customer relationships when we can mobilize third parties and other customers to enhance our overall message? The 2014 Ipsos Social Influence Study found that user-generated content is more memorable and 50% more trusted than other media. In fact, millennials trust peer reviews as much or more than professional ones. A collaborative approach that focuses on including our customers will drive the conversation around our brands in more positive ways than jealously guarding strategies and blasting “targets” with one-way messages. The era of collective impact has been ushered in and is here to stay.

Inspiration

There is an element of inspiration in heart-centered marketing, whether one is selling an idea, a political candidate, or a can of soda. Deep knowledge of your customers, and the collaborative dialogue you begin with them, allows you to appeal to what drives them on an emotional level. In a way that is not at all manipulative or shady, you can speak to your customers with complete confidence that you are offering something of value. Author and business coach Stacy Nelson has said, “You know when someone is spamming you simply because the energy they are giving off is 'get,' even when it's in the disguise of 'give.' In the long game, you don't have to prove yourself or sell yourself. In the long game, people give you “likes” because they really like it. They know you because you've taken the time to get to know them. In the long game, relationship is king.” When you have taken the time to invest in the relationship, when you really listen and engage with your prospects, when you speak from the heart with the intention of bettering your customer’s life in some way, you will leave people feeling inspired.

So what ‘s love got to do with it? As it turns out, a whole lot. Finding the authentic voice of your brand and respecting your customer enough to develop and cultivate a real relationship creates win-win scenarios and pays off immensely in long-term equity and loyalty.

Janel Clement

Author: Janel Clement
Date: May 26, 2014