Our quest at SHIFT to enter the conversation stream relating to “people-centric” communications led me to a the book titled The Human Brand, written by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske, and published last year by Jossey-Bass.
The premise of the book is simple, yet profound: “We engage with brands and the companies behind them on (the) basis of warmth and competence.” According to Malone and Fiske, our perception of these traits is registered instantly, in both people we meet and companies we encounter.
Warmth without competence isn’t very compelling, particularly in the business world. Competence without warmth may feel intellectually stimulating, but it doesn’t create an emotional reason for us to engage.
Perhaps most significant for my business and yours is this insight:
“We are loyal to the people behind companies and brands, not their products, prices, or loyalty programs.”
Intuitively, we all know this. But many SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses) overlook the obvious. We often fail to nurture our people and understand their true potential as an organic and dynamic sales force. As a result, we may say “it’s our people that make us different,” but we fail to reveal the humanity of our companies when it comes to marketing. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we do what everybody else does. Instead of looking deep within our companies for those intrinsic values, we use short-lived gimmicks to create interest.
Over the last five years, SHIFT has executed projects with several highly technical companies. Despite the fact that we’re not technology experts, we’ve been able to grow many of these relationships into long-term opportunities. The reason, I believe, is that we have a gift for letting the people responsible for innovation, quality and customer support tell their stories in their own words.
The net effect is a website, a video or a “white paper” that balances warmth and competence.
If you’re intrigued, I’d recommend picking up a copy of the book. If you know of a business that could use our approach, we’d appreciate your introduction.