Adotas is pleased to present a Q&A with Seth Besmertnik, CEO and founder of Conductor.
Q: Who is responsible for taking on the burden of humanizing marketing?
A: Humanizing marketing isn’t a burden — it’s an opportunity.
Yes, buying consumers’ attention is becoming less and less viable, and that means that businesses must focus on providing value that organically draws their audience to them. But that’s the opposite of a burden — it’s a great, positive thing. It’s a chance for marketers to create meaningful experiences and help people while also helping their businesses succeed and grow.
Today, the push to humanize marketing usually starts as a grassroots effort in the marketing department. It’s happening now as marketers realize that customer-centric, useful content produces better results.
In the long run, CEOs and company leaders are going to have to lead the charge and become mission-driven organizations that use marketing to serve their customers.
Q: What does humanizing marketing mean to you?
A: Putting the customer first. You have to think about the problems your customers are facing and actually help them solve them. It’s not just a way to improve ROI on marketing spend — though it absolutely can do that — it’s also a way you can make a tangible, positive impact as an organization.
To give you an example, our customer Fender, already one of the most important musical instrument companies in the world, created this online guitar tuner. Why did they do it? It took time, and it’s not something they planned to sell. But they saw that their audience — new guitar players and professionals — were searching online for this tool. And it has helped both their customers and their business. Fender has been driving huge traffic and revenue increases by giving their customers something that was created solely to bring them value.
Q: When do you see it reaching this point?
A: It’s already happening. Investment in content teams and programs is growing rapidly — content marketing job openings increased 33% from last year to this year. And marketing organizations are being reorganized from the traditional highly leveraged, outsourced model to an internally driven, flatter, wider, in-house model of creators making interesting, valuable things.
The key here is that we’re not looking for an endpoint. It’s a mindset. Putting your customers’ needs front of mind will continually change the way we think, strategize, create, and measure success. It’s an ongoing process that will keep evolving.
Q: On which platforms do you see humanizing marketing being most challenging?
A: Doing it right is a challenge on every platform, but it’s especially tricky to integrate paid media and value-driven marketing. Let’s be clear: humanizing marketing doesn’t mean dropping paid media. Customers don’t automatically avoid paid media — they just have learned to avoid it because it’s traditionally been uninteresting and hasn’t given them any value.
The better, more human way to use paid media is to take a customer-first approach when crafting your marketing content, then use paid media to drive distribution.
Q: Why is humanizing marketing important?
A: Like I said earlier, humanizing marketing is the inevitable future. Today, people have so much control over what content they consume; if you’re not providing value, they’re not going to pay attention. We have to humanize marketing because that’s the only way to make our marketing interesting and valuable to customers and get it seen.
Bigger picture, it’s important to remember that humanizing marketing isn’t just about the bottom line, it’s not just about selling stuff — it’s about making a difference and helping people. At the end of the day, that’s what we should really care about.
Q: How do you begin to humanize marketing? Obstacles? Challenges?
A: It all starts with knowing your customer. Who are they? What do they want? Do some research: talk to your customers, survey them, read reviews, look at search data, and interview your customer service colleagues.
Figure out what problems or challenges your customers are facing and create solutions; find out what questions they’re asking and help them get the answers. Align your marketing strategy with your customers’ needs instead of trying to use your marketing to force customers to need you. Replace the assumptions you make about your customers with real information and insight into their lives.
About Seth Besmertnik
Seth Besmertnik is the CEO and founder of Conductor, an organic marketing company. Besmertnik and his team at Conductor have a common mission of transforming marketing into something that adds great value to the world and re-thinking how modern companies manage their people and business.