Dell and Dennis – The Human Touch

Dennis is a person, just like us. Not everyone aligns their pens perfectly on their desk or religiously wraps their bananas in clingfilm like Dennis does, but we can all relate to him on one level or another. When a brand understands this concept and, better yet, markets according to it, they can connect with the audience on a far more personal level. When that brand is Dell, that connection has all the more value. Tech companies can’t rely on their product’s specs to build an emotional relationship with customers and so they’re losing out on the value of that kind of marketing: Dennis, with all his affable charm, can provide the human touch to change that.

Dell’s advert tells the story of a man whose potential is throttled by his insecurity and inability to ‘fit in’. Enter the new ‘Edge Server’, which, after being installed by Dennis, grants him the impetus to build a rapport with his colleagues, cook a candle-lit meal for his family and run for Prime Minister. The two minute ad, quite rightly, oozes tongue-in-cheek. It’s not supposed to be a documentary, rather a metaphor for small things making a big difference – a concept we can all appreciate to some degree. And it works because it tells a story while avoiding the dated, jargon-riddled approach, which customers appear to have had enough of.

Stories over bulletins
The consumer’s boredom with these information-based sales pitches isn’t born out of thinning attention spans or spoilt tastes. They’re not interested because they’re usually being told things they already know. Back in 2014, a Nielsen study found consumers prefer to get information from their peers rather than marketing materials. And in 2017, they’re more than able to do this. This means brands don’t need to inform the customer as much as they need to appeal to their sensibilities. Of course, your marketing can’t be devoid of detail – but the emotional bond you have with your audience is quickly becoming the most pivotal factor in enticing them to buy. So watching Dennis moonwalk down the office to the awe of his co-workers after he’s installed the Edge Server has more impact than being told it’s got a lifecycle controller. The customer can get that information by typing a few words in Google, but they can’t get Dennis’ quirky affectations anywhere else.

A cerebral concept with a concrete outcome
This kind of humanisation is one of the most effective forms of ‘emotional marketing’, which you’d be forgiven for feeling a little hesitant to embrace as a legitimate technique. But it is one and the science agrees. Peter Noel Murray, PhD, confirms ‘Advertising research reveals that emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on a consumer’s reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content – by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads’. For brands whose products solicit emotion in and of themselves, this is an opportunity – for brands who don’t have that luxury, it’s a challenge. But humanisation, vague idea though it may seem, can provide the solution by giving even the most mundane product an emotional spin that’ll register with the audience.

A more complete picture
Best of all, human, emotional and story-based marketing can reflect the wider elements of your brand. Product information can only tell you certain details about certain products, but a story can inform your company’s ethos and values. In the case of Dell, Dennis shows the audience that the company appreciates, even celebrates, our more whimsical eccentricities. He shows us they understand the typical workplace tropes we can all relate to. And he shows us they’re a business cut from a different cloth than the rest of the tech herd. And in doing all of that, he turns Dell into a brand we understand, relate to and want to see more of.

How can you make the most of humanisation?
The power of humanisation can have a profound effect on any marketing endeavour, not just advertising. That’s why we make a point of always encouraging our clients to consider the human angle. It can be easy to overlook, particularly in B2B where customers are whole companies and often thought of as inanimate entities, but it’s just as important — and effective — in our world as anyone else’s. All marketing begins and ends with a person, so your process should follow a similar pattern. And once you start viewing things through a more human lens, it becomes easier to predict what the people behind the business will want as their preoccupations and the things that influence them become clearer and simpler to market to. That’s why we use humanisation in almost everything we do. Whether it’s building customer personas or end-to-end brand strategies: if there’s a customer at the end of the chain, we consider the person, not just the numbers.

If you’d like to learn more about how to make your marketing more human, just send us an email.

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