If you’ve ever received an unwarranted sales pitch, you’ll understand why marketing without empathy is simply ineffective. In fact, a lack of empathy toward your prospective customers can even be damaging to your brand’s reputation.
Today, in the age of digital marketing, a lack of empathetic strategy can look like a poorly targeted display ad that disrupts your online experience, rather than enhancing it; it can look like invasive email campaigns that come on far too strong and far too often; it can look like poor customer support that makes you wish you’d never made a purchase in the first place. In any case, it leaves you feeling annoyed, and sometimes, even violated.
Empathy in marketing is about more than just understanding what your prospective buyers are feeling, although that is the most important part. It is also about using that understanding to solve your customers’ problems. Customer-oriented messaging and strategy is as beneficial for your company as it is for your buyers. Here’s how to achieve your very own, empathy-based marketing strategy.
Create an Audience Persona
If you haven’t identified and defined who your customer base is, you are wasting valuable time, energy and money marketing your product or service. It’s as simple as that. Understanding your audience and the motivations behind their buying behaviours is the most important step in a successful, empathy-based marketing strategy. To accomplish this, you’ll want to create a detailed set of audience personas.
An audience persona is a detailed representation and an imagined personification of your target audience or customer. The persona is not a real person, but a fictional one that represents the greater demographic your company wishes to reach. Developing this persona is an exercise that puts a face and some context to the archetype of people who will most strongly resonate with your product or service. Before you make any decision regarding your marketing tactics, put yourself in this persona’s shoes. How would they react? Are you providing them with the solution they’re seeking? Your audience persona will be the guiding force behind every marketing move you make.
A good marketer understands that while buyers do make purchases to solve problems they have, those problems are almost always rooted in emotion. Thinking emotionally—or empathetically—is about understanding that often, when a woman decides to buy a pair of new boots, for example, she makes the purchase not simply because she has no other shoes to wear in winter. Rather, she makes the purchase also partly because she feels confident when she wears a certain type of shoe. Like this one, many purchases are investments in the promise of positive emotion.
As a marketer, when you understand the emotion at the root of your buyers’ motivation for purchase, you can cater their purchase experience to most closely meet their expectations. This is how to turn more one-time buyers into satisfied, returning customers.
Adopt a Service Mindset
Once you understand who your target buyers are, what they care about and what they are seeking to gain from your product or service, you can use that information to provide them with the exact solution(s) they’re seeking.
The best time to start serving your target buyers is before they even know that your brand exists. In the first stage of the Buyer’s Journey, your prospective customers will be conducting research to learn what information exists about their problem and which solutions are at their disposal. Typically, in this pre-purchase stage, buyers are looking for educational material to help them learn more.
By providing this material on your website and social channels, you are preemptively establishing your brand as a reliable expert and authority in the area your prospects are interested in. Your target audience will be pleased at the expertise you’ve provided, rather than annoyed by a disruptive display ad they never asked to see.
Listen to your Customers—and Engage with Them!
Regardless of what stage of the Buyers’ Journey your customers find themselves in, they will have questions and comments about your products and your marketing materials. These comments, even the negative ones, are huge opportunities to foster productive relationships between your brand and its audiences. Those relationships, in turn, will build trust that will keep them not only coming back, but also referring their friends.
Online marketing platforms like social media provide the perfect, public opportunity to demonstrate your company’s transparency and its dedication to high-quality customer experiences. Every time you respond to a question or a comment on your content, you are showing other prospective buyers on the social platform that you’re committed to serving your customers, and that they can trust your brand.
Create Positive Atmospheres
The language you use in any situation is important in effectively conveying your message. This is true, especially in empathetic marketing strategies. Your target buyers are seeking a positive experience, so why wouldn’t you do everything you can to create a positive atmosphere for their purchase?
Basic human psychology has proved that humans respond subconsciously to positive language. For example, in our day-to-day interactions with other people, we often ask one another how our days were. Imagine yourself in this frequent scenario. Do you feel better after hearing someone explain their day using vibrant, positive language? Do you start to feel heavy after someone begins to complain? As humans, we absorb energy from everything and everyone we interact with. In marketing, this means that you have the power to influence your prospects’ mood. You have the ability to make them associate your brand with positive emotions.
While developing marketing copy, try to focus on the good things your company can do for your audience. For example: rather than writing about how your burgers “are not genetically modified,” write about how they “are organic and delicious.” Similarly, rather than listing all the pain points you’re customers are struggling with in an effort to get their attention, try painting a picture of all the things they can celebrate once your product or service has solved their problem. These small shifts in your creative process can have a long-term impact on your company’s reputation.
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