Somewhere along the line, B2B (business-to-business) marketing focused so much on marketing towards “businesses” that they forgot about the people behind them. Business are now again realizing the value in establishing personal connections with their customers and partners. That’s why the conversation around B2B marketing is shifting: instead of prioritizing product-driven content, H2H (human-to-human) marketing is now being seen as an alternative to B2B marketing that prioritizes deeper personal connections and communications.

H2H marketing upholds that communicating well with your potential customers is about a lot more than just helping their customers solve problems — it’s about offering contextually relevant experiences by connecting your product or service to the needs of your customers, the moment they need it.

In short: you need to be able to captivate an audience quickly and provide value just as fast. Who better to learn about this from than William Shakespeare — a playwright who has been dominating the stage for generations? Considered to be a natural businessman, Shakespeare’s popularity at ‘the box office’ was significant, and for good reason. By understanding his audience, crafting interesting stories, and by connecting with them on a personal level, Shakespeare managed to write plays that are still being read hundreds of years later. Talk about relevance.

H2H marketing can learn a lot from this approach; after all, there’s really no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to communicating with your buyers. Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C company, you need to be able to establish a connection with your audience as a way of improving customer satisfaction, laying the foundation for customer loyalty, and ultimately securing more business. Listed below are some of the practical lessons (and their business outcomes) that a great playwright like Shakespeare can still teach us about marketing today.

1. Understand your audience

Hubspot’s blog separates their content by persona

At the beginning of every published book of Shakespeare’s plays, you’ll find a page that lists of all its key characters: this is usually called the dramatis personae. By providing a large cast of characters, Shakespeare was able to give audiences a wide variety of experiences that they could relate to. Modern marketing has inverted this practice — we now categorize our audience into personas rather than the other way around.

The purpose of doing this is clear: being able to know who your customers are and what role they have in their company can help your organization deliver relevant, useful information to them — interesting stories, so to speak — as quickly as possible. Buyer personas, as they’re commonly called, are a way of personalizing and improving your messaging for different people, so as to be more relevant and relatable.

In the twenty-first century, digital marketing tools are allowing us to be even more granular. Getting to really know your audience means using your website’s or application’s usage analytics in order to understand their needs as part of these “personas.” With the help of AI-powered search — which tracks usage analytics, identifies trends and proactively recommends content through machine learning — you can deliver relevant digital experiences to every one of your customers and prospects. Knowing your audience and giving them relatable experiences is one of the best ways of capturing their attention.

2. Avoid jargon and cut through the clutter

MailChimp is the master of the matter-of-fact

King Lear is tough to read today because English, as we know it, has changed significantly since the Early Modern period. For an average theatre-goer in the late 16th century, Shakespeare was more-or-less speaking their language. Today’s marketers ought to take a page out of his book.

Your business’ message should be personalized to your personas but understandable to everyone. Being relevant to your audience starts with communicating with them in a jargon-free, plain English kind of way. MailChimp’s solution offering is clear and solves a business need. What’s also clear with their quirky and conversational messaging, is that they’re marketing to people. MailChimp’s down-to-earth tone is consistent in all their copy, establishing trust with their audience. Its no-fluff, value-add approach has landed the company as one of Fast Company’s most innovative companies, earning $400M in revenue last year.

Eliminating the jargon from your content is essential to connecting and communicating with your customers. To increase the relevance of your digital experience is to give your customers the option to cut through the clutter of unnecessary information and get right to the best content, given their context and intent in the moment. With a unified information index, finding the right information, the moment it’s needed, is possible by setting up search filters and facets. Coupled with machine learning capabilities, which gets smarter the more you use them, you can learn from the crowd to proactively recommend content to your customers that helped others like them find what they’re looking for.

Avoiding jargon and helping your customers cut through the clutter will improve the relevance of your brand, enabling you to attract new customers and keep your existing ones coming back for more.

3. Tell captivating brand stories

Slack had to be careful that its messaging applied to both teams as well as to individuals

From Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet, Shakespeare was great at telling captivating stories that have sustained a large readership for centuries. Similarly, brands that build their identity around a vision have been able to sustain an audience of like-minded people. That’s why companies like Apple and Slack have been able to build a loyal customer following; with the help of their messaging and storytelling.

For instance, Slack’s early decisions regarding how they market their products to companies as well as to individuals defined their early success in the internal messaging market: as Slack’s founder Stewart Butterfield explained in an interview, “we created materials to explain Slack to individuals – what it was for, how it worked, what you’re supposed to do – but we also built resources for team administrators. We wanted to give them ammunition to help convince the team.”

A story that’s interesting to one person, however, might not be interesting to somebody else — so how do we go about fixing that? Well, storytelling has to be personal before it can be powerful. Is your future customer a developer or a marketer? A manager or an employee? Depending on the answer, the ways in which you communicate your vision will vary.

Website personalization, thanks to technology like Sitecore’s xDB and Coveo Machine Learning, can allow you to change your messaging to fit a certain persona automatically. Depending on what line of business your customer is coming from, you can customize your “vision” for each and everyone who comes to your website. Depending on what your customers search for, where they land, or where they’re coming from, you can tell an interesting, captivating, and relevant brand story for each and every site visitor.

Having a segmented brand message allows you to see what works and what doesn’t, letting you adjust your storytelling accordingly. A great brand vision will drive more business to your organization, keep your customers satisfied, and help you develop brand loyalty that is akin to Slack’s Twitter Wall of Love.

As a marketer, learning from Shakespeare might seem counterintuitive: what does a 16th century playwright know about digital marketing in the age of AI? As it turns out, quite a bit: by knowing your audience, simplifying your language around your product offerings, and telling stories they’re interested in, you can leverage the best of H2H marketing in order to build the perfect customer experience.

If you’d like to learn more about personalizing your customer experience, you’ll enjoy our blog post:

How to Deliver Personalized Customer Experiences