There are countless articles written about humility as a crucial leadership characteristic, but it's also valuable in marketing. For years, we've been hearing about how important authenticity is and how consumers, particularly younger ones, will quickly notice inauthenticity and never return. Humility in marketing doesn't mean that you bow to your competition or market your brand in a self-deprecating way. It simply means that you're upfront about what you offer, what you stand for, and in your relationship with your customers.
Humility Allows for Meaningful Connections
Think of someone in your life that never shows humility. Maybe they're a know-it-all, vain, or inconsiderate. That person is pretty exhausting to be around, aren't they? The same is true for brands that act as if it's their way or the highway. Humility in marketing, on the other hand, shows vulnerability, which lets people connect in a more meaningful way. This is why "new and improved" works.
Humility is a Necessary Step to Empathy
The best way to truly understand your customers is to understand that your product or service is not the right fit for everyone. Then you can begin to identify your target and what's most important to them. When we work with clients to identify segments and personas for their business, part of the exercise is to determine whom we are not going to focus on. It's hard, but it's true that you cannot be all things to all people.
Humility Mitigates Risk
Without humility, you might go all-in on a new product or campaign without testing it. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't follow your gut, but rather follow it knowing that your gut is impulsive and use your brain as well. Keep in mind that testing doesn't have to be a long, drawn-out process filled with surveys and focus groups. Rather, it could be testing messaging on social prior to rolling out a paid buy or beginning a campaign in one metro area before it's rolled out nationally. If you start by acknowledging that you may not be right, you're actually closer to success than if you were to just close your eyes and leap.
So what are some ways that you can begin to show humility in your marketing?
- Address concerns, ask questions and learn from your followers through your social channels and leverage those efforts to strengthen all of your marketing.
- Demonstrate constant improvement. A company that does not demonstrate humility never changes or improves. Why would they if they think they're perfect? In this way, humility is a competitive advantage that drives you to always look for ways to become better.
- See bad press as an opportunity to grow. If you're trying to spin the situation, but don't mean it, the result will be worse than if you did nothing.
What do you think?
What brands immediately come to mind when you think of humility in marketing?
...and which brands definitely don't?