Human-centered marketing case study: A radical business turnaround

business turnaround

By Andrea Bowler, {grow} Community Member

Can one book change your life?

Today, I’ll explain how Mark Schaefer’s book Marketing Rebellion turned around my business in one day.

A true story.

The confused rebel

Over the last couple of years my personal life has changed dramatically. But I think my personal marketing rebellion really started before my big life change.

I had become disillusioned with the constant bombardment of marketing — what I thought I should be doing as a business owner. There was a sense that I was constantly failing because I hadn’t produced many sales funnels, lead generators, and automated everything. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

I’m not saying these things aren’t incredibly important to some businesses. But I was also torn over how sordid and soul-less the whole thing seemed. Was all this automation right for my small business customers?

I’d fallen out of love with what I was doing. I was overwhelmed, trying to keep up with sales automation trends and build a new life at the same time.

Maybe it was time to walk away from this whole mess and get a proper job.

My personal rebellion begins

“Don’t you dare, you will come back from this,” a wise friend told me … and how right she was. Throwing myself into business events and meeting new people, I started to feel some momentum return. But something still wasn’t quite right.

As soon as Mark announced he had a new book coming out, I had it on pre-order to add to my collection.

And then … I dove in.

Page by page I found myself frantically note-taking and excessively nodding.  One quote in particular grabbed my attention, and I could not stop thinking about it:

“Success isn’t measured by the size of your advertising budget but rather how sincerely you connect.”

It got me thinking, how do my clients like to connect? How do I like to connect?

Every day my inbox is filled with automated emails from one expert or another, some new company offering, and blatant sales pitches. I was weary of the relentless barrage.

But I realized I was adding to this spam nightmare through my own marketing automation!

Would a more human approach work better for me and my business?

An instantaneous business turnaround

I’d planned to put together a lovely sales funnel with a lead generator which was a list of 101 blog post ideas for estate agents (the niche market I work in).

But what if we didn’t automate it? What if we just offered this free value to our customers without the annoyance? This would be more work, of course, but I was curious to test the idea of more human-centered marketing.

We posted on our Facebook page, my personal page, and to two groups full of estate agents, and simply asked the audience if they wanted our help through this free guide. There was no sales funnel, no mailing list, just a simple question offering valuable help.

By the end of that evening we had 80 requests from estate agents — most of them I had never spoken to before! Even more surprising, we had 15 requests for more details about our business services and, incredibly, we secured two new brand-new clients!

And that was just Day One.

By the end of Day Two I had 40 new sales leads. By the end of the week it was 90.

I had to admit, I was in a state of shock about this.

I had to tell Mark that his book really worked:

Mark, I can’t tell you what a change your book is having on my business. Today I made a major decision. I scrapped the CRM funnel I’d invested in and went back to directly connecting to people. Instantly we had responses and new sales. Last year I struggled with my business and thought about walking away. But today I feel like a weight has been lifted, I’m kind of child-like, skipping around the office.

I’m back.

This success has continued, and we’ve now had more than 200 leads and counting. And I think it’s significant that several agents said they only reached out to me because they could see they weren’t going to be bombarded with spammy emails!

Stepping away from automation and acting like a human being worked. I’m now having real conversations with the many agents who requested my guide. Most important, I feel really comfortable and happy with the way I’m doing business.

Seeing how the world was working made me think I had to conform to what “business society” thought was a best practice. There was so much pressure to automate my business and it created this conflict in me — it didn’t feel right.

It was as though Mark had carved a new path and given us all permission to find our own authentic marketing approach, one that I could be proud of.

I’m not saying this is right for every business, but I honestly believe that rebelling against the automatic and finding a human approach will benefit almost any business relationship with clients.

As Mark says, “The Most Human Company wins.” I am going to be that company in my industry. How about you?

andrea morganAndrea Bowler is the proud owner of Citrus Content, a niche agency which specializes in bespoke content for the UK estate agency market. She is passionate about writing, walking in her native Peak District and being mum to her incredible son, Sammy.


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