We all heard the Golden Rule when we were growing up: “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”

Simple enough, right? So why has marketing consistently missed the mark when it comes to the Golden Rule?

As consumers become smarter and more connected — to each other and the brands they follow — traditional outbound marketing tactics that have been used for decades now are starting to fail.

Think of whenever you turn on your TV or listen to the radio.  Companies try to initiate a conversation with you by telling their ideas to the audience, regardless of if the audience actually wants to be talked to. That’s outbound. Brands are bombarding you with stuff they think (or wish) you want to hear. They’re interrupting your experience to push their message to you for an action.

And they assume it’s going to work because of the Rule of 7: A consumer must hear your message at least seven times before they even consider buying your services. Yes, there is solid research to support that rule, but why should brands continue to throw a message at consumers until something happens to stick?

Last week, I went to Hubspot’s Inbound 2013 conference, a gathering of the best and most forwarding-thinking marketers in one location. I learned more than what will fit in one blog post, but one idea stuck out:

You must humanize your business model and strive to provide  “delightion” to your customers. You surprise, interest and delight them. Your customers are humans, and you need to interact with them like a human.

Like the Golden Rule, this is pretty simple stuff.

In his keynote, Hubspot CTO Dharmesh Shah shared his idea that successful inbound marketing — that is, enabling customers to find you when they’re in need of your product or service — comes down to humanizing the three most important aspects of your business: marketing, sales and service. Let’s break down each part:


To humanize marketing, you want to build connections through meaningful interactions with your audience. Don’t just  interrupt their lives with unnecessary noise until you reach that magic number 7. Instead, offer them an experience they will remember, whether that’s videos, helpful blog articles, tutorials or simply providing the answers they want when they need it.


“Instead of coercing, invest in connecting.” -Dharmesh Shah

Humanizing sales is simple. Instead of trying to force a sale for the quick buck, invest in your prospects and create connections with them that build long relationships. While what you sell is important for the buyer, it’s how you sell it that ultimately leads to a sale. This was found to be true for B2C and B2B purchases. With the ease of data available, the buyer has the information on the products/services, as well as what competitors are offering. How it’s sold is the variable factor.


“Instead of satisfaction, aim for delightion.” -Dharmesh Shah

‘When it comes to humanizing service,you should strive for more than just meeting a customer’s needs. You should make your customers so happy that they’ll champion your business everywhere. The most important interactions your customer will have with your brand are going to come before you ever speak to them. Your most important customer is the one that will help you sell the most.

In the end, Dharmesh offered his own Golden Rule for successful inbound marketing: Be Human.


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