Remember the last time you received promotional material from a company or brand which really seemed to catch you at just the right moment?
They more than likely put a smile on your face. They may even have placed a lump in your throat. Their marketing material might as well have been saying “we know exactly how you feel, but we can help!”.
If this has happened to you, you’ve been on the direct receiving end of empathetic marketing. Lucky you.
No, really – alongside audience segmentation, it’s one of the best forms of marketing for everyone. For the brand, they know their message will hit the spot and elicit real human emotion; for the audience, the message is just what they wanted to hear.
Everyone’s a winner, and your marketing campaigns will feel like fun once again.
Marketing with empathy will always work, because every decision we make as human beings is driven by some form of emotion. Always.
But how can you use it in your marketing?
Random marketing won’t get you anywhere
According to HubSpot, most marketers rely on at least three audience segments to conduct effective campaigns.
There’s a good reason for this: they understand that you can’t just ‘spray and pray’ when it comes to promotional messaging.
This is also why empathy is such an important element of any marketing campaign. Can you really predict the next action your customers will take? Probably not, but the good news is you don’t have to if you understand which emotions you can tickle with your marketing stick.
If you’re currently conducting one marketing campaign after another and it’s feeling like a never-ending, ultimately pointless treadmill, you’re doing nothing more than randomly targeting customers.
By instead using empathy, you’ll be one step ahead of your audience, no matter what it is they’re likely to do next.
What is empathy-based marketing?
I think I probably need to provide a meaningful explanation of what empathy-based marketing is, because I appreciate it sounds a bit ethereal and tree-huggy.
It starts by moving from marketing-centric thinking to a customer-centric mindset. That means walking a mile in their shoes rather than yours and tuning your content to match their expectations, motivations and desires.
You can do this by:
- showing that you understand and appreciate your audience’s situation;
- demonstrate that you think like them but that you’re one step ahead with a potential solution;
- continually search for ways to help your audience identify and solve problems;
- work hard to understand what motivates your customers; and
- empower your team with the right tools, knowledge and training to assist when they speak to your audience.
As you can see, empathy in marketing is no difference to empathy in ‘real life’. When you meet someone who has an issue or problem to solve, they’ll warm to you far quicker if you empathise with the situation.
The result? They’ll trust you to help them solve the problem, and it’s the exact same deal in marketing, only that trust will evolve into something which tempts them to buy from you.
5 ways to use empathy in marketing
So, now you feel your customers’ pain, let’s consider five simple ways to inject some empathy into your marketing strategy.
1. Put your customers first
Yeah… you’ve heard this so many times, but it’s the only way you’ll ever be able to add empathy to your marketing output.
None of your customers are saying, “we want your product” – they’re actually saying, “we have a problem which needs solving”. Once you realise that, it completely transforms the way you market your products and services – trust me.
So, rather than trying to sound like your brand appeals to people, instead show that you’re interested in them.
2. Observe buyer behaviour
How do customers interact with your brand? What are their buying patterns like, and how do they arrive at your doors (be they digital or bricks-and-mortar)?
By doing this, you’ll begin to learn what their motivations are and what intent they have whenever they interact with your company.
A huge part of being empathetic is the ability to listen with the intent to understand – not simply reply. By doing this, you’ll be able to empathise with their situation and discover what you need to do to help.
3. Create conversations – not campaigns
Storytelling is a huge part of modern marketing, but so too is community building. It’s why you need to create conversations rather than campaigns; ask your audience a question. Spark an idea.
You may not know, immediately, what people need from you, therefore by empathising with their situation and asking, “how can we help?”, you’re far more likely to enter into a meaningful conversation with them.
You don’t always need to present the answers immediately.
4. Don’t be afraid to give away your best advice
It might sound counterintuitive, but by giving away your most helpful, valuable advice, you’ll show your audience that you want to assist.
Doing so without asking for a penny will show ultimate empathy. And you can use your blog, YouTube channel or email marketing list to give away that help.
The more help you give away, the more people will grow to love you and, ultimately, become loyal customers further down the line.
5. Consider how empathetic you are
Unless you’re a wrong-un (you’re clearly not if you’re reading this blog post), you’re empathetic.
With that in mind, think about how that empathy manifests itself each day. How do you help people? What do you do to make their day? When someone approaches you with a problem they need solving, what’s your immediate reaction?
Apply all of the empathetic stuff you do personally to your marketing. Because you’re doing it right – your friends and anyone you’ve helped personally in the past will back this up.
I hope this has helped. Empathy-based marketing is far easier than you might think, because it’s just like being a normal, nice, helpful person.
We’re all capable of that and boy does the world need it right now.
Put it this way: if your marketing feels like you’re helping people rather than selling to them, you’ve nailed the empathy part of it. Keep it up!