Interview: Maggie Finch on Branding for Humans

maggie finch, realself, branding, RealSelf User Group Symposium

Given her former positions as chief of staff and general manager at Microsoft, you might think Maggie Finch is a diehard proponent of data-driven analytics and marketing that relies on concepts like “aided awareness” and “share of voice.”

Funny thing is she’s actually an advocate for stepping away from the analytics and embracing a new/old approach to marketing — what she calls Branding for Humans, a subject she’ll also explore in depth as the keynote speaker at the 1st Annual RealSelf User Group Symposium to be held at Bellagio in Las Vegas, Friday, June 20.

MediBeauty (MB): Given your background, people might be surprised that you suggest they stop worrying so much about the metrics of marketing. What gives?

Maggie Finch (MF): In the world of marketing we’ve become so sophisticated with our data collection and our measurement tools that people who focus on branding forget what they’re in the business of doing, which is trying to create some sort of feeling or emotion in their customer base.

MB: And why is that so important?

MF: Creating an emotional reaction builds connective tissue that’s much deeper than selling a value statement, product differentiator or price point. That can be hard for people to buy into until you bring it right back down to basic human behaviors. It’s so fundamental to the way we interact every day – for me to build a relationship with you, I want to evoke feelings of trust, maybe empathy, belongingness — yet the minute we become marketers, we forget the power of that and we do things we’d never do in our personal relationships.

MB: And you say the social web can facilitate building those relationships. How so?

MF: It’s about storytelling, about letting patients speak their mind, knowing that sometimes saying the wrong thing can be humanizing. It’s actually a freedom exercise for doctors who are spending a lot of time thinking about SEO and all that. The fact that you’re out there talking like a human being is going to do more for you and your business than your logo ever will.

The good news is we can do it on a budget and as small businesses – it’s your permission as a small business owner not to be overwhelmed by the sophistication of the tools available but to know that you already inherently own all the tools to build an emotional connection with your customers because you do it all the time in real life.

MB: Yet you believe that many marketers still don’t get it, correct?

MF: We have so many social tools that are used so poorly by so many marketers – they use Facebook or Twitter to send these very dry, sales-y messages and they immediately lose all their authenticity as a human being. But as long as you’re being authentic and human, those tools become 10 times more powerful than if you pick up a book and follow a bunch of rules about ‘share of voice’ and how many times a day you should tweet.

MB: So how does building that emotional connection online translate into the real world?

MF: Plastic surgeons live at the most emotional intersection of product decision-making that exists — I can’t think of anything more emotional than the intersection of health and beauty. Yet you have doctors discussing their credentials, price points, potential outcomes – it’s a very nice, factual conversation.

But if you could see inside the potential patient’s head, you’d hear an even more powerful, emotion-driven voice thinking, ‘Do I trust him? Does he make me feel comfortable?’ And when a doctor actually speaks to those concerns, something magical happens. People feel things like empathy and connectedness and trust – all those things that marketers dream of creating. That’s the goal.

Maggie will elaborate on Branding for Humans as the keynote speaker at the 1st Annual RealSelf User Group Symposium, which will be held at Bellagio in Las Vegas, Friday, June 20. To register or find out more information, visit

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including, and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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