We Don’t Stop Being Human Around Marketing

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Dear Sir/Madam,

Do you ever get sick of being referred to as “Sir/Madam”?

Are you tired of overly-formal “professional” communication?

Despite its universal use, professional-speak – the language of business – doesn’t actually get much business done.

That’s one of the reason direct response copywriters use a unique style of writing, with lines like “Do you make these mistakes in your writing?”; “Do you ever get sick of being referred to as Sir/Madam?”; and “Do you make these 7 mistakes in your writing?”

Is it annoying? Perhaps.

But it’s effective – influencing clients, customers, and prospects far better than simply being professional.

(In my early days as a direct response copywriter, it was common to see a 10-100x increase in sales while making a move from a professional to a promotional style of writing.)

But there’s one style of writing that beats both the professional and the promotional: the personal.

Nothing sells a decision better than a human connection.

We are – at our core – social animals who are hard-wired for human connection. So human connection is a super-influencer in business.

Various studies have found that familiarity, liking, and human connection all improve social influence in other ways too.

As Dr Robert Cialdini shared in his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, we like people who are similar to us – people who speak like us, share interests and beliefs with us, give us compliments, and share the same networks.

For example, just knowing someone personally at the company immediately sets you ahead of many of the best qualified candidates.

In a study of job applicants by MIT and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, referred candidates were compared to online job applicants. In this study, referrals accounted for just 6% of all applicants – but between 30% to 50% of all hires!

These candidates were not always the most qualified. But human connection gave them an edge.

In another study, MBA students who connected socially with a negotiation opponent were 64% more likely to negotiate a successful outcome – and achieved 18% better deals – than their no-nonsense straight-down-to-professional-business peers.

And this social connection is becoming more and more valuable as we move into a (sometimes impersonal) digital-driven economy.

Keith Ferrazzi, author of the New York Times Bestseller “Never Eat Alone” shared his insights into this in his book “Who’s Got Your Back”.

“We’re moving out of the industrial age, maybe even moving out of the Information Age into [the Relationship Age]… in which emotion, empathy, and cooperation are critical success traits. … We’re at a incredible moment when technology and human interaction are intersecting and trust, conversation, and collaboration are top of mind and top of agenda…”

These echo trends I’m seeing in my client’s marketing campaigns.

When they focus on human connection, ahead of all else, they see big spikes in performance.

Yes, the promotional still beats the professional. But personal messaging has even promotional marketing beat. It slips through our filters, and appeals to us at our core.

So, before you write your next promo email, or next piece of marketing collateral – take a moment to think about how you’d invite a friend to make the same decision.

The more personal you can be, the more human connection you build, and the more effective you’ll be.

After all, we don’t stop being human around marketing.


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