Data has revolutionized the world of marketing. It’s become an invaluable asset in targeting audiences and building personalized experiences for individuals.
While it’s an indispensable tool in company decision-making, it doesn’t necessarily lead to authentic connections. Understanding your customer does that. That’s why it’s critical to infuse empathy into marketing – to deliver a truly customer-centric approach.
Empathy is considered a key component of emotional intelligence, a crucial skill to have as a leader. After a year like 2020, empathy is also a fundamental emotion that marketers need to show in 2021 to do their jobs effectively.
This sentiment is echoed loudly in an article by Noah Fenn: “Despite All This Data, Empathy is Still the Greatest Tool in a Marketer’s Toolbox.”
While we may have more opportunities to connect with customers today (through social media, content channels, and technology), building trust can be more challenging than ever.
To become more empathetic, step into your customers’ shoes to better understand what they’re experiencing. Then you can give them exactly what they want or need to live better lives.
- Empathy is a vital component of emotional intelligence – a skill every leader needs to succeed in today’s world.
- Marketers can suffer from “collective amnesia” when attempting to connect with their target audiences.
- Data is essential and highly valuable, but marketers must balance it with empathy.
- Data can never replace real human connections.
- We should use empathy in marketing to drive success.
What is Empathy-Based Marketing?
Empathy-based marketing involves seeing through the eyes of your customers. To be truly customer-centric, marketers must gain a deep understanding of who their customers are, the challenges they’re facing, and what motivates them to act.
We must learn to think like our customers and walk the steps they’ll take to make a decision that improves their lives. After you understand what motivates them, you can give them what they want or need to solve a real problem they’re facing.
Provide them with content, advice, educational resources, and tools to directly address their situation and give them clarity. To incorporate empathy into your marketing strategy, follow these tips.
- Always focus on your customer. Put them first. Help them find a solution to their problem by first understanding what they desire. Show your interest in helping and listening. Speak to their emotions to create authentic connections and build stronger relationships.
- Have conversations. Rather than pushing your brand on someone and telling them why they need you, show them how you’ll help them achieve a desired goal or outcome. Listen as well as speak.
- Give your leads the content they’re seeking. Don’t guess. Get to know your potential and current customers so well that you know without a doubt that they crave the content you create and offer. If your content isn’t helpful, it will be useless.
- Be a good listener. Understanding buyer intent involves seeing past what’s spoken. It involves empathetically listening for cues and motivations behind what someone says or does. This will help give you more context and understand why people are communicating certain emotions. Paying attention to emotional triggers – like guilt, fear, or trust – can help you craft compelling marketing messages that get to the heart of an issue.
Your Audience is made Up of real Humans, not Data Points
I won’t lie to you. I love analyzing data, but I don’t love math. Yes, there’s a difference.
However, I recognize that information isn’t the only thing that matters in marketing. Being overly data-centric can create a disconnect, which Fenn also emphasizes in his article.
It’s easy for marketers to start seeing their audience as numbers – or data points – instead of individuals with real names and needs. Fenn dubs this concept “collective amnesia.” In other words, marketers often lose the proper perspective, which hinders their ability to empathize and build connections.
Fortunately, Collective Amnesia is Curable
When you put your marketer’s hat on, ensure you don’t ditch your “human” hat. While you can learn a considerable amount about your customers by analyzing data – their preferences, motivations, demographics, etc. – being customer-centric requires a special ingredient. Can you guess what it is?
Why You Need Empathy in Marketing
Fenn was in charge of video strategy and sales at AOL. In his article, he describes the complexities of video content marketing. Many industries suffer from the same challenges he discusses. But the truth is, the way you deliver content to your audience should be simple, not overly complex.
You could spend enormous amounts of time trying to design the perfect campaigns based on your data. That doesn’t mean it will resonate with your audience. Depending too much on your data could leave you with blind spots that prevent you from developing new, innovative ideas.
By coupling data with customer empathy in marketing, you could see massive results. You can create something highly targeted and meaningful.
We learn how to empathize with others as children, but it’s easy to lose this skill as an adult. It doesn’t mean we don’t care about others. Nor does it mean we’re born with a compassion gene that eventually fades away or goes dormant as we face harsh realities throughout our lives.
Empathy is a skill we can acquire, so there’s hope for us all. While it’s true that social factors can impact our ability to attain this skill, we can learn to overcome our environments – even when they’re full of mean people who suck.
Relearn how to be empathetic by implementing key elements into your marketing tactics. Let’s face it—most marketing sucks. It’s not exciting, relevant, or beneficial. It’s often full of a lot of BS that avoids empathizing with customers. Your job is to turn things around and stand out from the crowd.
How to Become an Empathetic Marketer
Empathy-based marketing is built on trust. Do your customers trust your brand? Does it even matter?
It absolutely does. We used a brand trust survey, The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust, to gather some interesting tidbits on the importance of trust in marketing.
- Trust is nearly as valuable as quality and value. Consumers ranked it as a critical factor in making a purchase decision.
- Most people somewhat distrust brands they buy from. 53% of respondents claim they can spot when a company is being dishonest.
- Consumers place more trust in influencers who are relatable than those who are the most popular.
- Organizations that care about having a social impact resonate more with buyers than those that don’t. 53% of respondents said they expect brands to engage in at least one social issue.
Each of these findings brings us back to empathy in marketing. To build trust and provide transparency for your customers, look at things from their perspective. Then you can start connecting with them from a sincere and authentic place. Ultimately, how you make people feel will either encourage or discourage them from buying from you.
Top Tips for Empathy-Based Marketing
Here are some ways to build empathy into your marketing strategy for better connections and more significant results.
Help Instead of Sell
Trying to push a sale by leading with hooks in your messaging won’t help you build trust. Instead, try focusing your content marketing efforts on helping your audience by delivering content consistently that solves relevant problems.
Get in Touch with Your Customers’ Feelings
Empathetic storytelling can help you create a meaningful bond with readers. Creating narratives around real challenges and situations helps customers see themselves in your story.
Think Like Your Customer
Step into their shoes and walk through the path they may take when researching and finding a solution to their problem. Doing this will help remove any bias you may have and see from a different perspective.
Focus on How You Can Make Your Customer’s Life Better
Regardless of what you market, it serves a need (or you wouldn’t have a business). Focus on the benefits of your content rather than product or service features. You can develop a brand story to show how your product or service will save a customer time or money, make their process more efficient, or make their life easier.
Be Clear, Not Confusing
Have you ever seen a brand promotion and thought, “What the heck was that?” If your message confuses people, it will also repel them. Even if you’re selling the most complex service or product on the market, your message must be clear and easy for non-experts to understand.
Listen Closely to Your Customers, and Be Willing to Evolve
Listening may be the most vital part of being an empathetic marketer. You’ll learn a lot from your customers – both the happy and unhappy ones. Take time to listen to their frustrations, desires, and constructive criticism. Implement changes as necessary.
Ready to Incorporate Empathy into Your Marketing Efforts for Greater Success?
Consider picking up a copy of Mean People Suck and get the bonus visual companion guide along with it. Also check out our services, including training, consulting, keynotes, and workshops that can help you transform your work culture, become a better leader, and build a more purpose-driven company. I would also be thrilled to present to your team the power of empathy in business.
Originally published here by By Michael Brenner
According to most definitions, an entrepreneur is one who envisions a new and different business, meaning one that is not a copy of an existing business model. Many entrepreneurs have a passion and an idea, or even invent a new product, but are never able to execute to the point of creating a startup. Even fewer are able to grow the startup into a viable business.
As a mentor and advisor to entrepreneurs and startups, and an angel investor, my passion is to find and nurture those entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas and acumen, to make them into successful business owners. I fully realize that for some of the best entrepreneurs, success is surviving the journey, and they can’t wait to hand off the new business and start another one.
Thus, in my view, entrepreneurship is an evolution of an idea through a series of developmental stages, culminating in a self-sustaining business. A business is an entity which exchanges goods and services with people outside the business (customers) for money, social good, or something of equal value. Here is a summary of the key stages along the way:
- Idea and Seed stage. In this first stage, a specific idea or passion is solidified into an executable plan. Typically this is done by one or more entrepreneurs with personal or family resources, with no business entity yet formed, so they would not yet be considered business owners. Market research and a business plan should be the focus at this stage.
- Startup and Development stage. The development stage normally begins with designing and prototyping a product or service, and creating the company legal entity. While legally the entrepreneur has created a business entity, there is nothing of value yet to own since the company has no solution to offer, no customers, and no revenue.
- Funding and Rollout stage. At this point investors should be interested in buying a chunk of the business. It is arguably sustainable with a proven value proposition and business model for customers, and operations processes that work. The entrepreneur now becomes a business owner, and must start thinking like one to get to the next stage.
- Growth and Scaling stage. This is the stage where most entrepreneurs exit, get pushed out, or learn to operate as full-time business owners. Business owners know that growth as a business versus a startup requires replicable and documented processes, a focus on marketing and sales, personnel management skills, and detailed planning.
Another way of determining when an entrepreneur becomes a business owner is to look for the mindset change required to build and maintain a successful business. Every entrepreneur needs to compare his strengths and aspirations to this business mindset:
- Satisfaction from business success versus the big idea. Business owners get their satisfaction from happy customers and happy stakeholders. Entrepreneurs are more focused on thinking big, stepping into the unknown, and changing the world. They embrace risk, while a business owner seeks to reduce and manage risk.
- Seeking a stable environment now versus a better future one. Good business owners like a predictable market where they can make calculated decisions to improve and grow. Entrepreneurs love to envision breakthroughs and disruptive technologies, with tough problems to overcome, which will allow them to create lasting change.
- Relish repeatable activities and processes versus new challenges. Most small business owners enjoy the completion of daily and weekly tasks, and cyclical processes, like inventory and receivables. True entrepreneurs are always thinking many months out, anticipating the next opportunity and the next recognition for innovation.
- Long-term attachment to the business versus the idea. If you see the business as the core of your worth, you will make a great business owner. Entrepreneurs see their value in the change they accomplish, and their impact on the future. True business owners dream of keeping the business in the family, and making it a long-term success.
Yes, there are notable entrepreneurs who make the transition from the big idea to a big business owner, including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. But there are thousands more whose interests revolve around being a better entrepreneur. Others start and end their careers as business owners, by buying an existing business, inheriting a family business, or buying a franchise.
So I believe the bottom line is that most entrepreneurs never really become business owners. They may step into that space for a few years to maximize the impact of their idea and personal return, but their heart is in their next venture, and that’s the way it should be. Neither money nor business success will buy you happiness if you aren’t doing what you love. You decide.
Originally published here by Marty Zwilling
Do you have a strategy for building trust, respect, and friendship with the various contacts you’ve made at conferences and networking events?
Now, amid the coronavirus epidemic and global lockdown, having such a plan in place is more critical than ever. First impressions matter, but we build meaningful relationships through ongoing communication and impactful exchanges. And that may be truer today than it was before the current crisis.
Certain expectations arise during first conversations, both online and in-person, and as a professional, you have an opportunity — some might even say a duty — to meet or exceed those expectations. Doing so helps create the strong foundation that underpins relationship capital.
To positively engage with someone, share your contact information, and then never hear from them again is both frustrating and disappointing. Perhaps, like me, you have found yourself on both sides of this equation at one time or another.
The fortune is in the follow-up. The reality is that progressing from a first conversation to truly understanding someone and becoming their friend takes time and multiple interactions. If your initial encounter is the seed, your follow-up is the sunlight and water required to grow that encounter into a fruitful connection. Making new contacts is pointless if you don’t invest the time to reach out to them afterward to strengthen the bond. This is the only way to give those new relationships a chance to develop.
But you need to ensure a balance between cultivating your new connections and maintaining the relationship capital you have already built with existing clients and associates. The latter’s trust in you can easily erode when you are not contacting them or responding to their communications.
That’s crucial to remember today. Most of us are away from the office. We’re working from home, distracted. And those relationships that may have been easy, because we regularly ran into people at the office or attended the same events, now take a little more effort and forethought.
“Do something for your client and they will appreciate you that day. Do something for their children, and they are your friend for life.” — Vickie Neighbour, chairperson, Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF)
Here are seven strategies you can use to nurture the connections you’ve made and maximize touchpoints with the people in your network.
1. Categorize Your Contacts.
Sort through the contact information you have gathered and arrange your acquaintances into groups. You might choose to categorize them according to the type of information you wish to share with them, or you might arrange them in order of priority.
Some of your contacts might have more urgent needs than others, or you may have connected with some of them more strongly and feel compelled to reinforce those associations sooner. In certain cases, you might need to conduct further research before deciding how best to reach out. If your goal is to follow up quickly and effectively, creating a hierarchy clarifies who your first follow-up should be.
Communications are easier when you can readily see which contacts have similar interests. This way you can share information or messages with several contacts as a group rather than one at a time.
2. Curate Your Online Image.
These days your digital presence is your principal presence and the first impression is critical. Anyone you meet virtually or in person may at some point Google you. Their quick research on you and your business will influence whether or not they work to further the relationship.
So regularly review what populates when you type your name and that of your company into the search engines. Make sure that accurate, relatable information is at the forefront. Your digital presence should always reinforce the positive impression you have worked to cultivate offline.
3. Use Social Media Strategically.
Before posting to Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social channel, research the common hashtags before selecting several that best apply to the content you wish to share. Also research and tag contacts for whom the content may be of particular interest and who might wish to amplify your message.
When event organizers or attendees share interesting videos or recaps, comment on them. When you see a post by someone with whom you would like to build a deeper relationship, take a moment to like, comment on, or share it, and leave a thoughtful message. Do more than just click a button. Your engagement will be noticed.
Of course, share only those posts that are relevant to you and your potential connections. If the post is not pertinent to your type of business or client, it’s probably not worth disseminating. When you share information, your social media followers naturally assume that it is relevant to you, so avoid confusing potential or active clients and associates and focus strictly on meaningful content.
4. Establish Online Connections.
Social media can also facilitate direct connections with your contacts. LinkedIn is particularly valuable. Most business professionals have LinkedIn profiles and many have Facebook accounts or pages through which they engage with business associates. Read your contacts’ posts and send connection requests with relevant notes about how or where you met and the primary topic you discussed at that time.
Personalize these requests. Make them meaningful. Avoid generic messages and don’t blatantly solicit business. Just as you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on a first date, don’t try to sell to a potential business contact during the “getting to know you” phase. Remember: Likeability is a key determination in people’s choice of business partners. In fact, research by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that just 15% of success is due to technical knowledge, whereas 85% depends on communicating and connecting with others.
5. Tailor Your Communications.
Vary the channels through which you communicate with your contacts. Learn how each person prefers to be contacted when you first meet and and follow-up through that medium afterward. This demonstrates that you noted and respect their preference and sets the stage for gaining their trust. Afterward you can vary the communication channels somewhat to make an even stronger impression.
One of the easiest and most powerful ways to stand out? Send your new contact a short handwritten note thanking them for the time they invested with you. Such an approach requires more effort and consideration to compose than a simple email, so these communiques are best reserved for those with whom you know you want to develop a stronger working relationship. Be thoughtful in your messaging. One size does not fit all. So don’t send the same note to multiple contacts at the same office. Invest the time to craft something specific and unique to each person.
Another great tool: An actual telephone call. These have become so rare as to seem like an innovation. And an especially effective one. Why? Because it lets people hear the sincerity in your voice. The written word just can’t compare.
So work on your phone manner. As more and more people hide behind digital correspondence, this can help you stand out. And people appreciate it. Those who I call regularly often thank me for taking the time to do so. Creating that verbal connection helps differentiate yourself, even if all you do is leave a voicemail. I make of point of leaving enthusiastic and energetic voice messages. This lets the recipients know that I am genuinely interested in learning more about them.
6. Deliver Value.
To earn or reinforce a contact’s trust, seek out helpful information in their areas of interest — business related or otherwise — and share it with them. This is where listening and note-taking skills are essential.
Offer to introduce them to contacts with similar interests or who may need their product or service. Too often, people approach networking as a zero-sum game: They focus only on what they can get out of it. But truly effective networking is about giving. Make an honest effort to give without remembering and receive without forgetting.
7. Stay the Course.
Tactful persistence is key to success in business. You might need to follow up with someone 20 times or more before you create real relationship capital. Always be professional and consistent with your approach. Set reminders for yourself about who to contact next, when, and how. This will help you stay organized. Take notes on every interaction. This will help you determine the direction your subsequent communications should take.
“One of the best business and networking decisions I made early in my career was to be consistent in my message when building relationships,” says Ian Robertson, CFA, a past president of the CFA Society Vancouver. “Over time this consistency provided three advantages: best practices to efficiently maintain and expand my personal latticework of friends and advocates; clarity on opportunities to create value for others though my core competencies; and a reputation for leveraging new technologies when adopted across the communities I serve.”
These strategies can help you build trust and genuinely connect with the people you meet at both in-person and virtual events, conferences, and through others in your network. Each interaction you have with a contact is a precious opportunity to make a positive contribution to your developing relationship. The capital you build can prove valuable later on, when the time is right for business decisions to be made.
Originally published here
By Sameer S. Somal, CFA
The fast-spreading new strains of coronavirus is reminding all economies just how much they rely on each other for business as human activity across many countries shut down while authorities continue to contain the outbreak.
All countries have witnessed a downturn in the hospitality, tourism, aviation, luxury retail and construction sectors. A recent poll revealed that one in five business owners believe climate change and natural disasters poses a threat to their business, but sadly a staggering 77% of them do not have a natural disaster plan in place. The ripple effect of this could mean that as many as 40% of small businesses will never reopen their doors following major natural disasters such as this.
With such significant economic impact, in time of downturn or major natural calamities, businesses need to have a complete picture in retrospect and understand the worth of being better prepared for future crisis.
Always have a Business Continuity Plan in place
With or without catastrophes, all businesses whether big or small need to have a Business Continuity Plan in place outlining how a business will continue to operate during an unplanned disruption in service. This document should be considered as a mandatory tool to help businesses adapt, respond to risks and be prepared for all kinds of eventualities.
The grim reality is that 49% of startups fail because they are unable to mitigate the effects of a hard market or unresponsiveness that they did not predict. According to industry experts, on average, an infrastructure failure and a critical application failure can cost up to 1 million per hour. This highlights the need for businesses to develop a holistic business continuity plan that can keep the business up and running, protect data, safeguard the brand and retain customers while minimizing the downtime and loss to the business.
With business continuity being a broad and complicated venture, the involvement of a business mentor at this stage is a good idea. You can’t know it all yourself. The realities of business, technology, finance, operations, logistics, marketing, human resources, and the rest of it are simply more complicated and rapidly shifting than anybody can keep up with. With broad background and experience a mentor can help you identify your strengths and can assist with the development of a business continuity plan that touch bases all the major areas such as continuity of business operations, uptime of all related information technology hardware and software and crisis management plan to avoid major impacts during unforeseen incidents.
Plan for contingency by reserving capital out of your regular cash inflows
Big businesses have collapsed not because they don’t make profits, but because their business owners considered themselves immune to risks – be it by over leveraging their profits by debts, or underestimating the potential of any disaster or threats and its implications on their business needs. The purpose of this reserve is to act as a cushion against surprises and hence establishing a contingency reserve is a part of risk management. For most businesses, the percentage of a contingency reserve should be approximately 3 to 10% based on the type of the project, commonly understood as mixed flat rate contingency.
Upskill yourself to maintain the focus and get an outside perspective
During economic downturns, when business decisions need to be sharper and smarter than ever before, it is imperative that entrepreneurs look at upskilling themselves during such tough situations.
Business owners can upskill by identifying areas in business where they struggle the most and by engaging a mentor to guide through those obstacles. We all know this, it’s lovely at the top! Don’t deal with your issues by yourself, involve consultant and move fast.
And with the upcoming trends in technology, it is absolutely convenient to upskill digitally or interact with global mentors overcoming the geographical boundaries and time zone differences.
Don’t wait till it hits your business or your country – take cues from global happenings and start tweaking your business model. Events are unfolding with astounding speed. Only a few weeks ago, it looked like the epidemic was mostly confined to China and now it has been declared as a pandemic by WHO.
In the connected world, everybody has direct access to many sources of information so it’s good to consult multiple sources. Businesses need to work on employing an iterative, empirical approach to what’s going on and what could work for their business operations while constantly reframing their understanding of what’s happening.
Prepare for a digital future
Disruptive technology is changing the way we work and the nature of our workplaces. If digital technology is fully integrated into a company’s strategy, it can benefit all employees and help secure their future.
While we talk about digital readiness, it is not only to have the technology in place but also a “digital ready culture” with role models who exemplify the ‘digital culture’ for the transformation to be successful. For a company to call itself digitally ready, they should rate themselves on seven core tenets i.e. innovative ideas and out-of-the-box concepts, data-based action, conscious collaboration, external partner flow, digital as baseline, versatility and customer first approach.
75% of CFOs estimate that their Organization is missing out on revenue opportunities by failing to adequately support digital business transformation. The e-commerce sector has proved to be the most digital ready during the outbreak of Coronavirus and hence it has witnessed an increase of 101.5% in online sales as compared to the same period in the previous year.
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