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JUNE 6TH, 2023 hosted by Glenn Bottomly

Ep: 51 - Lasting ROI: The Value of Human-Centered Marketing

Posted by Glenn Bottomly on Jun 6, 2023 9:58:51 AM

Every marketing move should come with a distinctly measurable outcome that ties directly to ROI — this popular mindset stifles creativity, and ultimately, decreases the power and leverage of your marketing team.

Our latest guest, Doug Zarkin, CMO at Pearle Vision, didn’t find himself Brandweek’s Marketer Of the Next Generation and Crain’s NY Notables in Marketing by carefully calculating each and every marketing move as it relates to ROI. Instead, he embraces a human approach. By moving towards a more holistic approach to data, by focusing more on the actual customer experience, Doug places high value on culture and authenticity.

We discuss:

  • Embracing ‘thinking human’ in marketing to build authentic connections
  • Hiring for passion and purpose, celebrating progress and creating a learning culture
  • The impacts of AI on CX and the value of physical marketing in a digital age

“If you think about the human side of your consumer interactions and really try to create authentic experiences — that allows you to bring strength in your own brand value equation.” – Doug Zarkin

Why togetherness matters in marketing

When it comes to sussing out an organization’s target audience, gathering reams and reams of data isn’t hard –– and for years, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s all marketers had to go on, says Doug.

But as companies can once again observe and interface with their customers, one theme has emerged: to be a strong marketer, the human element matters most, even above the most accurate, data-driven insights.  

“It’s that notion that consumers make emotional decisions before they make rational choices,” he says. “If you can create an emotional connection with your customer, then you’re a part of their purchasing journey. That requires really getting into their mindset and thinking about them as human beings.”

There are other benefits to prioritizing the human element in marketing, outside of seeing how emotional connections pay dividends. The authentic experiences consumers have when brands prioritize treating their consumers like people lead to a stronger brand value –– because customers remember the brands that speak to them and are more likely to come back for more.

If you don't understand your customers at the human level, you're not going to ask the right questions, and you're not going to get the right answers.” — Doug Zarkin

The value in making your business a brand

A brand is really nothing more than a group of people that share a set of beliefs, and treating brands and businesses like humans builds a culture of teamwork and tenacity, says Doug. When he leads teams, he focuses on all the individual ways his coworkers interface with their work, each other and the world –– much as they all do for the consumers to whom they market.

Each and every person on your team gets motivated in different ways,” he says. “Your job as a leader, to get the most out of them –– and for you to get the most out of yourself –– is to really think about them as humans.”

That’s why Doug prioritizes hiring people who are passionate about the work they’re doing, not just focused on the salary and the title –– or who only prioritize perfection every single time. The world of marketing can often feel incredibly high-stakes, with big budgets and even bigger visions that people expect your department to execute.

It’s easy for teams to fall victim to that external pressure and start prioritizing perfection in every idea over progress toward the right ideas for the brand. And, while that pressure may exist, Doug says there’s no value in expecting teams to live by an ‘all-or-nothing’ mindset. That just applies too much pressure to the work people do every day, which does nothing but tank morale.

“If you don't celebrate progress, it makes your team focus on an ‘all or nothing’ culture. Who wants to live and work in a culture that’s about absolutes? Nobody. There are very few things in life that are absolutes. Marketing is absolutely not one of them.” — Doug Zarkin

Where AI fits into the current marketing landscape

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic in the world of marketing these days: can it replace people? Can it take over jobs in places like call centers?

In Doug’s words, AI is a great augmentation tool to support quality customer interactions, but it can never replace the human element –– and there are many instances where only the human touch will do.

“If you have a consumer that has had an awful, awful consumer experience –– whether there was something racially, ethnically or religiously charged –– if your AI treats them all the same and doesn't escalate it, you can create a world of hurt,” he says. “In general, my perspective on AI is that you can use technology for good or you can use it for evil.”

It all goes back to the brand — keeping the human element at the forefront of marketing and customer service is a surefire way to keep customers coming back. If they know they’re dealing with and being cared for by real people with an emotional connection to their needs, they’re more likely to bolster the reputation of your organization, Doug says.

 “No matter what kind of business you run, remember: consumers make emotional decisions before they make rational choices,” he says. “If you focus on the two critical tools marketers have, word of mouth and reputation, you have the basis to operate and optimize a business.”

Want to learn more about person-first marketing and leadership in a data-centric world? Listen on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever you find your podcasts.

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