The importance of empathy-based marketing
3 ways to use empathic content marketing
When I say the word “empathy,” what do you associate it with?
Kindness towards a family member going through a difficult time? Support your partner when he has had a bad day? However, does a business-related example come to mind?
I guess a lot of people don’t associate “empathy” with buying or selling.
Unfortunately, many brands don’t either!
But as we move forward from COVID-19, empathy-based marketing isn’t just the right thing to do, your customers now expect it.
Many studies conducted during the pandemic show that people want brands to be more empathetic and aware of the long-term impact it will have on their lives.
Hopefully, you communicated authentically and empathetically with your clients during this time, and you will have to continue to do so!
So now that we’ve established that being an empath is important, let’s define exactly what it is.
Basically, it is about putting yourself in the shoes of your customers to provide them with a better service. And unlike sympathy, which is feeling compassion, empathy means imagining yourself in someone else’s situation.
Examples of brand empathy
Let’s look at a real-world example: IKEA recently created a video with images taken by employees, capturing moments at home.
By thinking like its customers, the company showed solidarity and connection during the COVID-19 crisis and reminded people that maybe they should fix up their space.
Here are a couple of ways a small business owner could use empathic content marketing:
- Make a DIY blog or video to show people how to create something using your product. Whether it’s growing herbs, updating your wardrobe with a few key pieces, crafting, or keeping track of your finances, this could be a great way to provide something useful to clients or social media followers who spend more time at home.
- Give a part of your profits or donate products to a charitable cause. During the pandemic, one of our clients, Malarys, was very active in the community, donating several masks to healthcare workers. People will be looking to brands to continue these charitable efforts after the pandemic.
No matter how you approach empathy marketing, make sure you offer something of value to your audience.
According to 2019 Forrester research, 65% of consumers say they already get too much material from marketers, and nearly that many think they’re getting useless content.
Being empathetic is not your excuse to sell nonsense or lose sight of giving people a real solution.
How to use empathy to improve marketing
1. Take advantage of emotional triggers.
Yes, your product or service offers buyers a solution, but that’s the logical side of the equation. What emotions drive the behavior of your customers?
For example, one of our clients offers financial therapy services. Instead of just focusing on numbers and figures, Wendy Wright dives deeper into the why of financial decision making.
She talks about her past struggles with money and the importance of looking at finances with “compassionate curiosity” to empathize with her clients, who often feel embarrassed or anxious about debt or savings.
2. Listen to your customers
A 2018 study by M&C Saatchi looked at how well 34,000 customers’ actual experiences with brands aligned with their promises. They found that 18% of consumers had stopped using a brand in the past 12 months due to a broken promise.
Twenty-seven percent believe brand experiences are getting worse, not better.
Are you delivering the quality and service your customers deserve?
I’ve talked about this many times before, including the importance of dealing with negative customer reviews. The core of brand empathy is how you treat your customers when they provide negative feedback.
For example, when a customer accused Airbnb and a large amount of racial profiling after being denied a reservation, then accepted after using a fake profile of a white male, Airbnb was quick to respond.
They launched their ‘Open Doors’ policy, which places any guest who feels they are being discriminated against elsewhere, either at another Airbnb property or a hotel.
READ: “How to Evolve Your Business Model as Times Change” on our website.
As we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, it is obvious that some things are forever changing. In a recent survey, 81% of Canadians agreed that the crisis will create a new normal and have a lasting impact on society.
It’s time to take a look at your marketing and assess if it still makes sense to your target audience. I share some great tips for defining and meeting customer needs for your future success!
3. Remember and respect differences.
No two customers are the same, even if they both belong to your target audience. People from different geographic locations, generations, and genders are not necessarily going to want the same thing from you.
When you’re creating your empathic content marketing strategy, start with deep customer personality research. A marketing persona defines a segment of your audience, for example, “tech-savvy millennial” or “thrifty young mom.”
To design these helpful marketing tools, you can look at your demographics, survey and/or interview your customers, and listen on social media.
By developing these marketing personas, you’ll have a much better idea of how to approach and engage your audience by offering them relevant content that they’ll appreciate receiving from you.
Chances are you’ve had to change your marketing strategy during the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s business as usual now.
It’s time to walk a mile in your customers’ shoes. So be kind, understand the emotional level your customer is on right now, and provide valuable content that is relevant to them, as we all do our best to move forward stronger than ever.