Expert Insight: The Significance of the Human Element in Leadership and Marketing Strategy

Great efforts go into analyzing and planning strategies. During this process, it is easy to remain objective and rely solely on metrics and data. This, however, omits a crucial element that can drastically affect the outcome ⁠— the human element. I am a firm believer in a “People First, Mission Always” mentality, and incorporate this into my approach to leadership and marketing. I am not alone in this belief; below, you will find quotes from six diverse and talented professionals that have experience utilizing the power of the human element.

L. Craig Halsey, MA

LTC, U.S. Army

Assistant General Manager, U.S. Southern Command

“What makes us human, is what truly drives our decisions…and, we can never forget that.  It’s our uniqueness – our idiosyncrasies – our thoughts and feelings that define who we really are.  And, it’s our character – more than our reputation – that drives our behavior. In a world clamoring for Artificial Intelligence and advanced analytics, it’s the algorithm of our minds that we are all trying to master.  Whether we are leading a team, or whether we are selling a product, it’s the connection we make – the value we can bring to others – that carries the day.  It’s about people…it’s about improving lives.  Although often over-used in my profession, we are all on a quest to win the ‘hearts and minds.”

Wendy Guess, PhD

Florida International University Faculty

“Marketing Leaders may have a tendency to focus on outcomes such as sales or analytics. Individual perspective and insight are essential to both determine the right metrics and to then accurately interpret them.  Taking the time to strategize the vision, objectives, and performance indicators help organizations better determine the right processes, identify the best target audience, acquire better leads, and ultimately make more customer-focused sales. The right leadership skills and the right strategy develops better data-driven-decision-making and then a stronger ROI, and that’s good for the bottom line.”

Juan Carlos Gómez, MBA

Senior Project Manager, Wellington Construction Group

“Without the human element you cannot lead or influence people. Understanding people’s needs, wants and dreams allows those who endeavor to impact their target audiences’ decision making in their favor. This powerful framework has profound effects when key people master the skill.”

Vanesa Cruz, MS

FIU MSM Cohort 9

Entertainment Assistant, Miami Marlins

“Working in the sports industry, especially in a very fast-paced environment, can get overwhelming. I work in the game presentation department, where we run the production of every Marlins baseball game. If we don’t work as a team & if we didn’t have a strong leadership team, our show would be a disaster! Our leaders have many years of experience and ensure that everyone knows what they are doing. They help whenever & wherever it is needed. Our goal is to entertain people from the moment they enter until the moment they leave the stadium. For marketing strategies to be delivered at Marlins game, we have influential leaders to guide us & help us bring our product to life by giving fans a unique experience in Miami’s ballpark! We can execute as a team by communicating, sharing our ideas, understanding our weaknesses, taking risks, & trying new things. By coming up with a plan, implementing it & then monitoring our results, we can fully understand and execute our strategies to improve entertainment from beginning to end.”

Akie Smythe

FIU MSM Cohort 11

“Utilizing the strengths of the human element is the difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing strategy that leads. As a marketing leader, I must understand the motivations and emotions of my team and customers. Being candid, having open conversations, holding accountability, and presenting a clear vision are vital ingredients in a winning marketing strategy recipe.”


Tony Lodovico

Senior Vice President, B2B Sales MASA Global

Whether focusing on the customer experience or the employee experience, organizations should consider it vital to start with the human element to insure building a sustainable future. A culture where the human element is at the forefront of organizational development is one that where employees are enthusiastically engaged in their work, and therefore naturally enhance the value of their products and services for their customers.”


Leadership and marketing share similar fundamentals, such as empathy, openness, honesty, and strong communication skills. These “soft skills” are honed over time and through experience. They are what differentiates good leaders and good marketers from great leaders and great marketers. Deliberately utilizing the human element generates exponential gains as the people around us feel they are valued and cared for, meaning that they willingly work harder for the mission. The human element creates a positive feedback loop of increased morale, increased productivity, and ultimately increased profit.

My contributors have decades of combined leadership experience from the halls of academia, the baseball diamond, and the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.  All of them have cut their teeth in their respective disciplines and embraced the human element with open arms. Their lessons learned have translated into invaluable skills that they have used to build their personal and professional brands. The common trend among my contributors is that through the incorporation of the human element, more can be achieved with the same amount of resources. They embody what it truly means to be “People First, Mission Always.”

                                                                   Weapon industry marketing issues amid the gun control era

What’s the Problem?


            Every industry faces its share of obstacles and roadblocks when it comes to marketing strategies. Few compare to the difficulty of marketing in the firearms and weapons industry. There are few platforms that genuinely support the marketing of guns, and those that do really tread lightly in their definition of “support.” Due to the mass shooting incidents that have taken place over the last decade or so, guns have been under constant scrutiny from the government and society. As a direct result of pressures and backlash after incidents many of the largest channels to market in shut their doors to never be opened again. How do you market without the use of Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Shopify, and web designers like Squarespace, Wix, or many other platforms that are commonplace for many industries? The answer is that you need to take a hard look at your Search Engine Optimization, your Website Design, and your Social Media.

Data Driven Decisions:


            Given that the traditional means of paid marketing is off the table, how will potential new clients find your site? How will you grow your business in a highly competitive market dominated by large dealers? How in depth have you gone with your analytics to determine your strengths and weaknesses? These are all questions you must ask yourself. Organic and direct traffic are the factors that you want to look at as a metric of overall performance as those two traffic channels will receive users by. To influence these channels, you must investigate improving your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It is imperative to due your research into the strength of your keywords. Google Trends is an excellent tool to check, compare, and analyze possible keywords for SEO. A single letter’s difference can drastically alter what audience will see your content. An example would be when optimizing for Heckler & Koch products using the abbreviation HK versus H&K— both being popular abbreviations of the company name.

The raw data shows a HK winning by a landslide. So, optimize using HK, right? Well try googling HK and see what comes up. It is mainly results relating to Hong Kong, aka likely not your target audience. However, H&K directly results in Heckler & Koch related results. This is important to highlight the significance of your SEO, small subtleties matter and can edge out competition when used strategically or your own listing if used carelessly. In addition to keywords, look at editing page result titles and meta descriptions to match with the chosen keyword so that Google’s algorithm will rank it higher in the results. Yoast is a great SEO tool that can aid in your quest for optimization.


But What’s Wrong with My Website?


            Well, when was the last time it was updated visually or with modern features? It’s 2019, there is zero room for Comic Sans or distracting text colors. It may have been tolerated in the earlier days of the internet but is unacceptable in the modern digital marketplace. You must view your site as it is, as if you were a new user unfamiliar with the site. What features have you implemented to make the site more user friendly and guide your potential clients? The online demographic has shifted predominantly to mobile devices as the primary means of surfing the web. Have you optimized your website for mobile? If not, you could be losing a significant portion of potential traffic to slow load times or features that don’t port correctly. The answers lie within your site data. For me my weapon of choice for data is Google Analytics as it provides a vast amount of possible insights and ability to visually analyze data within the site. From a technical perspective, key performance indicators I recommend focusing on would be looking at your Bounce Rates, Average Page Load Times, and Site Engagement reports. Specifically, how they relate to one another, and how they vary in the different device segments. Analysis of these KPIs can help retain more of the traffic that comes to your site from your SEO efforts.


Build Your Community:

            Social media is tied into all aspects of modern life it seems and it’s a valuable tool of soft marketing. While social media sites have specific rules against selling weapons there is no rule against making a company account and posting content that builds a following. The buying process in the gun industry occurs overtime and likely when people are visiting your site are doing research to see what company they will do business with when they are ready to buy. As the demographic of buyers begins to become younger (money being a main barrier to entry) online presence is increasingly important. Create content that will serve to foster positive brand association and make a schedule to post consistently. Understand the importance of collaborations with other companies and how they can benefit or hurt your company. It takes a long time to build a reputation but only one blunder to ruin it, keep this in mind and be selective of what, how, and who you post with and about on social media. Social media can serve as a valuable intel source as most forums are public and people speak on them as if they were private, choose your battles carefully and always air on the side of caution to protect your brand.


So That’s It?

            Not quite, but these are 3 of the most important in my opinion. I encourage you to seek out answers for yourself as well. This is not a one-size-fits-all guide. As a marketer you need to know your company’s unique needs and strategize accordingly. These are glances at topics that WILL benefit your business long term. I recommend reading through this related article by Joshua Claflin of Garrison Everest. He has a few tactics; I didn’t touch on and shares his take relating to the topics I’ve discussed here.