As an entrepreneur, if you want to connect with people, you cannot rely on data alone. You need to build some genuinely human connections, says Eric Solomon, who used to work in the marketing field at Youtube, Spotify, Google, and Instagram. While he didn’t know at that time, however, he joined his last performance calibration session in late 2018.
Back then, he was the managing director at Instagram, and he used to do these sessions often. These sessions are for senior managers, where they discuss the performance of their team members by applying common organizational standards across job levels.
The History Of Use Of Data
Besides, Eric was driven by data; he was a devotee to it. Data was the best way to reach customers, and naturally, the best way to manage employees as well. However, something started to crack during one of those performance calibration sessions. He began to think that people were treated as data and not human beings.
Also, back in 2011, when Eric Solomon joined Youtube, he saw that suddenly data had become the primary currency of corporate America. Topics like A/B testing, artificial intelligence, rational versus emotional decision-making have become the mainstream business parlance.
At the same time, everyone started to talk more excitedly about adopting data-driven approaches to everything. Eric has seen that more leaders across different industries began to demand more data to inform, and in many cases, guide critical business decisions.
For example, the field of marketing has embraced this quantitative mindset. This is due to the correction of the Don Draper era of advertising. During that era, big and transformative ideas were forgotten easily. There is also a bit of logic in here because the marketing industry relied upon the whims of a few. Still, today, there is a technical capacity to understand the interests of the many.
In turn, this capacity has enabled the marketers to track and calibrate precisely how people react to different messages, which is perfectly reasonable interest for any business. After this capability was democratized, Facebook, and Google, together with other technology platforms, have made it easy for any business to target people.
The Marketing Industry
These digital advertising platforms quickly changed the way of marketing, which was no longer about establishing a human connection with people. Today, it is all about creating a frame of personalization that meets attribution.
This is the process that delivers highly relevant and valuable communication with customers. And then, it is all about understanding in great detail the impact and result of that effort while looking after new insights.
The best example given in such a case is that people think of something they want, like a pair of pants, then based on data, that person receives on social media many results with that pair of pants until they get it. This results in data that drives statistically significant results.
Treat People Like Human Beings
Corporate life can be tempted to separate human emotions from business practice. Besides, in 2019, for the first time, Eric saw executives who talked about investing in the well-being of the customers and employees rather than focusing solely on data.
However, in the marketing industry, the reality is that marketers have long understood the need to build and foster meaningful connections that help define the world’s most iconic brands. But because technology, data, and metrics have moved to the forefront of the corporate discourse, the context has changed.
But how can business do the vital work? First, they need to understand that there are living human beings. The same can apply to brands because when people interact with a brand, they experience feelings. It is similar to how they first interact with other people.
At first, the person will only know that the brand exists; they see it and maybe even try it in one way or another and form an opinion about it. And that’s it, just like meeting a new person at a party.
Besides, over time, this relationship can develop. People can attach more in-depth meaning to some brands or will think about them in some way. From this moment, a business relationship arc is developing.
Things get interesting as they move further up in the arc. It is here where people incorporate in their daily lives a brand or product. It is here where the brand shapes them, and it’s part of their lives. Also, very few companies can take the relationship beyond that, to a place where they are indispensable.
Companies that choose to be outstanding are the ones that find ways to move people up the arc. To achieve this, companies have to think about what drives people as humans, not just what motivates them as groups.
The Business Brand
Just like in technology, where operating systems support essential functions that enable more complex tasks to happen, so does the business have a core operating system. The company’s operating system is the brand essence, the central idea. The central idea of a company is what is all about a company.
For example, the central belief of Nike is “if you have a body, you are an athlete”. This is the heart of who Nike is. With that idea in place, Nike can build a holistic operating system that includes details about why the company exists, what it is trying to achieve, the distinct value it offers to its customers.
These are some of the best ingredients that make people unique as individuals, and they are essential to building companies that mean more to people than the things they make. The brand of Nike isn’t the only company that goes beyond the league for people.
Even in the gaming industry, there are companies such as Corsair that offer their customers lifetime warranty for their products. Usually, their target market is pc gaming and gamers. And when one of them has a broken mouse or headset, even if the 2-year warranty is gone, they can still contact Corsair and get a new piece of equipment that will replace the broken one.
Even in the iGaming industry, people like Duncan Pollock from DR Gaming Technology says that creating a solid relationship with people will help to build a solid future. Duncan also adds that in the late 90s, when we were entering the new millennium, many businesses have invested in information systems that were looking after customer activity and habits.
This was an attempt to build relationships and to drive loyalty. But many of these strategies failed because many companies were affected by DRIP (Data Rich but Information Poor). The value of customer relationships should be special, and it should always be engaged and treated as individuals. It is not a topic that should be explained.
That’s why the right relationship with people has to last a lifetime, and perhaps even longer. Even Airbnb is encouraging hosts and guests to form genuine relationships. Individually, each gesture, even if small, will add up to a community that emphasizes relationships.
In the gaming sector, it may be hard to follow the AirBnB relationship; however, casino operators need to put their players first by giving out the “small things”. Things like knowing their name, knowing their favorite game, favorite drink, and many others. However, this belief cannot be established without good leadership.
Eric believes that the sentiment is best applied to how human talent can be nurtured in the workplace and daily life, beyond the traditional evaluation methods. People need to understand why you get out of bed in the morning; they need to see the vision and passion. If there is none, then there won’t be anyone to share it.
And the most important as a leader is to embrace humility. Humility means being curious about people, being open to what they offer, realizing that all of us have a lot to learn and what makes us tick. As a leader, you can go a long way in allowing people to treat each other not and adequately add data points, but as human beings.
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