Human Marketing: Innovations We Love

Humans. They’re everywhere you look!

We’ve been fans of the Humans of New York phenomenon for a while now. With a camera and simple stories, Brandon Stanton has been able to tap the power of global communities, along with the Internet and social media to create a New York Times best selling book, nearly 10 million followers on Facebook, and many copycats and satires seeking to ride its coattails.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 1.07.00 PM
(Mike Mozart/Wikimedia Commons)

We’re drawn to the authenticity, simplicity and lack of pretense that Humans of New York offers. It showcases humanity, reminding us that we are all connected and similar, experiencing triumphs and defeats, challenges and opportunities in our lives.

Humans are definitely back in vogue. And as such, they are getting a bigger piece of the marketing pie. Look no further than the recent campaigns of Coca-Cola and Beats by Dre to see human marketing in its full form. Coke’s campaign is all about celebrating relationships. It’s not about consuming a soda, but sharing a moment with Jenny, Mike, a Star, a Friend – whatever name you are lucky enough to find on your can. Not only was this a brilliant, people-inspired campaign, it also sent consumers out in droves to search for cans with their desired name on it.

The Beats by Dre campaign appealed to the human spirit of various athletes in major sporting competitions – from tennis, to football, to the World Cup.  The campaign was not about headphones, it was about the athletes’ stories. The music of their life set the tone for a heart-tugging commercial. The headphones were simply a vehicle.

You may be thinking that sure, it’s easy for consumer companies to appeal to humans, but if you search across the websites and campaigns of major tech companies, including OracleIBM’s People 4 Smarter Cities and GE, what you will find is humans. Humans using technology to make their job, their industry and the world at large better.

So what are the implications of human marketing for the technology sector and how its stories are told?  Here are three takeaways:

  1. It’s all about the customer experience. Customer experience may be a buzzword, but we don’t expect it to fade into the well-worn woodwork of tech trends anytime soon. The customer, potential customers and basically every constituency a company interacts with has the power to voice their experience via social media and make headline news.  Look no further than one bad Comcast call to see this scenario in action.
  2. Stories need characters, not speeds and feeds. Marketers have spent years telling you how they are bigger, badder, faster. They need to stop thinking about themselves and put themselves in the shoes of their customer. Customers today need to feel that vendors understand them and their unique needs. There is always going to be some shiny new technology knocking at your customer’s door – one that tries to lure them away from you with the promise of something better. But empathy and understanding of your customer delivers lasting competitive advantage.
  3. Simplicity is key. Remember when you used to open a website and you could not make heads or tails of what the company actually did? It was a game of “he who uses the fanciest language and most buzzwords wins.” But no longer. Humans need language they understand – they need you to talk to them like, well, humans. Content needs to cut through the clutter and deliver simple, compelling messages that are easy to grasp and understand in seconds.

Humans may not be innovative or cutting edge – they’ve actually been around for quite a while.  And while they may have fallen into the trough of disillusionment for a while when it came to marketing, we for one are glad to see them back. For starters, one simple fact remains true. Companies need people to buy stuff.  So why not appeal to them as people. After all, being human is the one common factor we all have.

This blog post continues our series on PR innovations we love that kicked off last week. Co-written by B&O VP Kris Reeves.

Stars of Silicon Valley Shine at B&O’s Fireside Chat

Let me start by simply saying this…our event last week was not your average, boring tech industry get together. In fact, there was nothing average about it.

Headlined by luminaries Charlene Li of Altimeter Group and Mike Weir of LinkedIn, and bringing together the hottest Silicon Valley companies and influencers including OracleTeradiciVentyxLyrisNarusBitcasaCheck PointNexGateSkype and YouEye, B&O’s inaugural Tech Marketing Playbook Fireside Chat was a great event filled with cool people and awesome content.

Discussion outlined marketplace shifts that impact how technology companies go-to-market and sustain their position, and offered sage advice on strategies and tactics that every tech marketing and communications professional should have in their playbook.

We will be continuing the discussion on this blog over the coming weeks/months and look forward to working with you all to build out the #PRPlaybook. You can also stay tuned into what’s happening in our world by following us on TwitterInstagram or Facebook.

In the meantime, here are 10 reasons why Blanc & Otus is the hottest ticket in town:

1.  Hardworking, smart and fun – B&O has the best team ever.

B&O Staff


2.  We know how to fill a room.

Tech Marketing Playbook Fireside Chat


3. Who says tech PR trends have to be dull?

Josh Reynolds, Charlene Li, David Meizlik, Lori Shephard
L-R: Charlene Li, Altimeter Group; Josh Reynolds, B&O; David Meizlik, NexGate; and Lori Bush Shephard, Clarizen


4. Our gents know all about creativity, authenticity and fun – just what every successful social media program needs.

B&O staff
L-R: Neil Torres, Bill Rundle, Neil Desai, Simon Jones, Charlie Passero, Andrew Padgett, Drew Smith, all of B&O


5. We delight our guests with 5-Star Service AND the best Chardonnay.

L-R Karen Hartquist, Candice van der Laan, Deborah Hellinger, all of Oracle
L-R Karen Hartquist, Candice van der Laan, Deborah Hellinger, all of Oracle


6. We know who matters and have exceptional list management skills.

Event name tags


7. The ladies of B&O know how to work it – whether it’s PR magic or a little black dress.

L-R: Stephanie Kaye, Natalie Pridham, Ivy Chen, Joan Touchstone, Christine Pai, Danielle Tarp, Kristin Reeves, all of B&O
L-R: Stephanie Kaye, Natalie Pridham, Ivy Chen, Joan Touchstone, Christine Pai, Danielle Tarp, Kristin Reeves, all of B&O


8.  Two words: client lovefest.

John Philpin, Lyris and Danielle Tarp, B&O
John Philpin, Lyris and Danielle Tarp, B&O


9.  Our messaging skills are strong enough to stand on their own.

B&O banners


10. Making Josh look smaller than Charlene Li takes talent, but we know how to play with perspectives.

L-R: Josh Reynolds, B&O; Charlene Li, Altimeter Group; Mike Weir, LinkedIn
L-R: Josh Reynolds, B&O; Charlene Li, Altimeter Group; Mike Weir, LinkedIn

Wendy Allen