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