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Marketing is a lot like dating.

It requires getting to know the other person - the customer - and winning them over so you can get a first date. It involves being so irresistible that your date will agree to go out with you again. It requires building your relationship over time.

And just like dating, to be successful at marketing, you have to make a connection. You have to create and feel a spark. But guess what? You can't do that if you go on dates acting like a robot. The key - both for awesome dates and for successful marketing - is to act and speak human.

But how do you do that? Here are 4 suggestions.

  1. Don't be phony.

Have you ever been on a date where the other person tried impressing you by using big words? Did you go out again with that person? Most likely not.

This happens in marketing, too. Many marketers use buzzwords because they want to sound smart, but they end up sounding cold instead. Many business folks are prone to claiming that they "think outside the box" or that they "push the envelope." Companies are "game-changers" and their products are "disruptive." Blah, blah, blah.

Through overuse, many marketing phrases have become clich̩s. They're vague, and customers often have no idea what they mean. To connect better with customers, we need to speak clearly and use their language. Usually, this means stripping off marketing lingo from our communications with them, whether we're sending out a tweet, writing a Facebook post, or releasing a press release.

To connect better with customers, marketers need to speak clearly and talk like a human. (CLICK TO TWEET)

Bryan Kramer, CEO of PureMatter, author of Human to Human #H2H and guest speaker at our recent webinar, Are You Marketing Like a Human?, says it best:

I'm suggesting that we need to ALL simplify our approach in how we communicate to who matters most, the customer. And that all starts by speaking human. This means personifying how you communicate; show your human side by being empathetic to those who make mistakes. Use plain language to describe what you do so everyone can understand. And embrace the quirks that make you, you.

Even in a B2B setting, it's important to speak like a human. After all, while you're talking about evaluation, selection, and purchase, your customers simply compare, choose, and buy. Using formal language is old school. If we want to better connect with our customers, we need to lighten up on the business speak - even if we're selling to businesses.

How do you make sure you're not using marketing speak? By engaging your customers frequently and having a deep understanding of who they are. If you can put yourself in your customers' shoes, you're more likely to avoid talking to them as if they're data points.

  1. Make it a two-way conversation.

There's nothing worse than a date who won't shut up...unless it's a date who won't open up. One or two awkward silences during a date are to be expected, but if your date refuses to talk, a subsequent date is highly unlikely. On the flip side, you can't talk too much about yourself either. You have to show genuine interest with the other person and listen to what he or she is saying.

The same is true in marketing today. In the social media age, the role of marketers is no longer simply about broadcasting to a faceless audience. Marketers today are expected to engage customers, replying and conversing with the customer when necessary.

But while many marketers ask for feedback on social media, insight communities and other engagement platforms, customer engagement often falls short. That's because many marketers refuse to share back to customers what they're learning.

Think about your own relationships in your personal life. Building lasting relationships requires a two-way communication. You have to share back to the other person in order to build trust. It's great to ask for input, but if you're serious about building a community, then you have to close the feedback loop. We're not talking about the generic "thank you" messages: getting customer engagement right means providing specific details on what you're doing with people's suggestions. The best way to show people you value their time is by giving them concrete details on how their tweets, survey responses or discussion forum participation resulted to changes in your company.

  1. Tell people what you stand for.

One of the purposes of dating is to learn more about the other person - to get him or her to get to know you. That involves sharing your opinions and passions. That also means embracing a little bit of vulnerability and sharing what makes you tick.

Customers buy from a brand because of what it stands for. Brands need to be open about what they're all about. (CLICK TO TWEET)

Being open about what your company stands for is important because when customers buy today, they're not just buying your product. Often, the empowered customer chooses one brand over another because of what the brand is all about. Customers look at the company and assess whether its values align with theirs.

What does your company stand for? What issues do you care about, and how do you advocate for them? Having a clear understanding of your company's own values can help clarify your marketing strategy. By unpacking the essence of what you stand for and by knowing your customers deeply, you're better equipped to tell stories that your customers would want to hear and would want to share.

  1. Admit your mistakes.

I once dated a guy who arrived very late to one of our dates. (Actually, he never showed up.) That would have been fine only if he apologized, but nope, he didn't even bother with that. Needless to say, I never agreed to see him again.

Humans make mistakes, and when they do, they - at least the decent ones - often admit to it. But far too many brands don't own up to their mistakes. And that's the worst thing you could do today: Projecting a visage of perfection and hiding your mistakes makes you look less trustworthy.

When brands own up to and correct their mistakes, they build better customer relationships. (CLICK TO TWEET)

Owning up your mistakes can build relationships - especially if you act quickly to correct them. Recently, after the pizza brand DiGiorno realized that it made an unfortunate joke on Twitter, the company quickly apologized and responded to every single tweet. Another example is when actor Jonah Hill was caught using a derogatory term. Instead of hiding, he quickly explained what happened and said sorry. In both situations, the public was quick to forgive because they received a sincere apology.

Marketing today requires a human approach, knowing your customers and talking to them often. (CLICK TO TWEET)

As you can see, marketing, just like dating, requires speaking clearly and honestly. But it's also more than that: marketing today requires knowing your customers and talking to them often. We can't promise you better dates, but follow these 4 tips and you'll be on your way to becoming a better modern marketer.

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Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria was formerly a Content Marketing Manager at Vision Critical.

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