Think Better Marketing


Recognizing Our Humanity at the Denver Digital Summit

As my team and I took our seats in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House for the Denver Digital Summit, we commented on how nice it was to get out of the office. I find that today, the reality of “work” expects that we be producing and productive at all hours of the day all the time, so time out in the world learning is always a welcome break.

As the event kicked off, I remarked on how I find American workers and businesses tend to ignore basic human realities like the need for time away from work and breaks during the day. 

It was quite validating then when Dan Pink got on stage and shared his findings from his research on timing. His research digs into how the hidden patterns of the day impacts our moods and our performance. It seems, that undeniably, we as humans, only have a small window of focused time. 

  • We are most productive in the AM, when our mood and our vigilance is high and we are able to do focused work before 11 am. 

  • When 11 am rolls around, the average human enters a trough, where energy and focus is low.

  • And then, in the afternoon, there is a recovery period where creativity returns, but without as much focus. 

These findings summarize everything I sense about myself and others. Yet I often ignore my own instincts, packing my day full, as if I am focused and creative at all hours of the day. 

But I am not all of those things all day long and Pink’s research suggests that certain work be reserved for certain times and that you build your day around your energy, focus, and creativity. The table below suggests the ideal stages of the day for certain tasks.

Daniel Pink’s table from the talk.

Daniel Pink’s table from the talk.

This first presentation was the start of a consistent theme that I heard throughout the rest of the day at the summit, recognize and respect our own and other’s humanity.

In a presentation about delivering content through design with a representative from Ogilvy, the presenter emphasized focusing on the human and building for the visitor/customer that will be using and reading your content.

The distinction she made that rang true for me was the emphasis on answering the questions that the visitors have—not the questions you want to answer.

I know when a site is going to be less effective if the leadership team supporting the content creation is focused not on what users, visitors, and customers need, but instead on what the company wants them to know. It’s the mistake of a company that is internally-focused instead of customer-focused and has trouble recognizing the humanity of the audience. 

Your audience doesn’t care if your “technology is the best” or if you consider yourselves to be “innovative” They want to know how your product will improve their lives and impact their status.

Which brings me to time spent with Seth Godin—the marketing buddha. 

Seth closed out the first day of the conference with an hour-long Q&A. One of the primary points he kept returning to is the concept of status and the questions that marketers should consider about our buyers. 

He shared three questions that the humans who are buying your products might be asking themselves and that we, as marketers need to be aware of:

  1. Will this move me up or down in the hierarchy that I care about?

  2. Do people like me, do things like this?

  3. Do I trust this brand?

The core of these three questions is that even as much as we want buyers to be rational, logical, and reasonable, they aren’t. They are human, just like us. Even B2B buyers make purchases based on status. 

The question of, “how will this make me look to my peers and my boss?” Is always on the minds of B2B buyers. 

And, the role of a marketer is to be the voice of the customer. Recognize and remind the organization of the humanity of the buyer and ask questions like “why aren’t people buying our product or service?” 

The main message I left the Summit with:

Acceptance of our humanity provides an advantageous perspective.