Kim, founder and CEO of Centrally Human, is a marketing technology and human-based executive leader. With more than 12 years of experience in human-based marketing, she brings proven expertise to help marketers connect with customers in authentic, meaningful, relevant and profitable ways.
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By Kim Brown, Founder and CEO of Centrally Human (

“Bring humanity back into hospitality,” explained Mark Hoplamazian, President & CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation.  I was at a Global Leaders Series Breakfast Program put on by theExecutives’ Club of Chicago on September 29, and Mark’s talk was on leading with empathy and taking a reverse prospective to improve your business from employee to customer and beyond.

For all that jargon I just wrote, I have to say it was one of the most inspiring and authentic talks I’ve heard from an executive in  years. Not only does Mark believe in the message, he lives it and has organized his corporation to embody it.

The values and strategies he touted and has proved to be effective (from a human perspective and business bottom line) is exactly what marketers need to be doing. And I know it works because I’ve brought the same strategies to more than 20 clients resulting in measurable success.

I was giddy when I heard Mark say we need to bring humanity back into hospitality. It highlights and validates the importance of what Centrally Human LLC has been leading: putting humanity back into marketing.

The lessons that Mark shared are valuable for everyone and directly translatable for Marketers.

Here are 3 key takeaways that Marketers can start using today in their strategies, campaigns or relationships to build smarter, more authentic and more successful brands.

  • Provide a Compass, Not a Map

    • At the Talk: This directly corresponded to empowering and trusting employees. Understanding where you want to be (clear goal setting), providing direction and guidance, and then allowing the people to get to the destination using their unique route.
    • For Marketers: This lesson is a critical leadership tool to employ in your strategic plans. You will have a very clear goal, like return-on-ad spend or a total number of leads. Set the goal, provide the general compass directions, and empower your teams to design novel solutions to achieve the goal. There are ideas and routes that are so intuitive that they’re left off plans because we don’t empower our teams to think strategically. Hire smart people, and let them design the route on the map, while you provide the compass.
  • Take a Human-First Perspective and Use Technology as a Tool

    • At the Talk: Mark gave an incredible example of understanding the humans first, then re-designing the technology to service them. At one Hyatt property, he was with a housekeeper and asked her what would make her job easier. Her answer was scheduling flexibility. The housekeeper’s daughter was a working parent with a young child. The housekeeper would watch her granddaughter, but she couldn’t reliably because her daughter’s employer would change her shift sometimes with only 12 hours of notice. The housekeeper said if she had more flexibility with her schedule, she could help her family more. This feedback came from more than one housekeeper, so Mark empowered HR to come up with a solution: a scheduling app for the housekeepers to update their shifts and coverage in real-time – with no supervisor approval required. The result: rooms were cleaned faster and better, guest satisfaction increased and employee engagement grew. All because Hyatt put the human first, and built a technology to empower them.  
    • For Marketers: This lesson can easily translate to building human-centric marketing plans. Think about your customer as a human being. Reverse your perspective. Get out of the office and watch them.  Do they use Google, or are they searching/asking for recommendations on Facebook?  Does your customer tend to prefer phone calls or online chats?  What is the cadence of engagement between your customer and your brand (daily, monthly, annually)? Each of your customers is an individual human being. Get to know them first. Then you can work with an expert to design your customer journeys that use technology put your brand where your customers are, instead of the other way around. I cannot tell you how many brands waste time and money on marketing technology and media because they set up their connections without truly accommodating their customer. It’s a powerful perspective change and drives significant results.
  • Know Your Customer as a Human

    • At the Talk: Mark described the old “10 and 5” rule for when and how to greet customers. Basically, the rule is eye-contact and smile when a guest is within 10 feet, and a greeting or gesture as well as smile and eye contact when a guest is within 5 feet. This was effective a century ago when luxury hotels were differentiating themselves to guests. But it doesn’t translate to today’s experience where each guest is different and in a unique frame of mind when they walk in the door. Hyatt threw out the antiquated “rule” and gave employees the tools and the freedom to be authentic, responsive and personable to each guest’s need. The result: faster check-ins, higher guest satisfaction, and memorable, genuine experience for the guest to feel truly welcome and at home.
    • For Marketers: Your customers are humans first. They have needs and wants that your product provides. Understand those first, then build your connections to compliment and help them. If you are a retailer and your customer is on-the-go, make sure their browsing history and shopping cart are linked across their rewards ID, web browser, mobile browser and mobile app (yes, there are ways to do this, and we show our clients how). If you are an insurance company, your customers may need to reach out during non-business hours. Make sure they have direct access to the online chat or phone line that is open when they’re reaching out (yes, there is a way to do this, too). Your customer is a human being that is doing their best with a very busy life. Be the brand that is easy to connect with when it matters most.

If you get past all the complexity, jargon, channels, vendors, options, awards and hype, marketing is really about connecting with humans in a meaningful way.  Data and technology are incredible tools at our disposable to be better Marketers and Brands for our customers, but we have to put the human first and design the solution around them.  It is a simple concept that takes precision, skill, experience, expertise and vision. It is possible, though, and it has to be done in order to move your brand forward. Treat your customers the way you want to be treated – as a valuable and respected human being. 

Ready to get human with your marketing? Reach out to learn how Centrally Human LLC has helped dozens of marketers redesign their marketing plans and partnerships for proven business results.

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