Three Must-Dos for Empathetic Marketers
“We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think.” —António R. Damásio
Empathy is hard work. But if there's one lesson 2020 gave us, it’s that we need more of it in the world. (Empathy, not 2020. We had more than enough of 2020.) That goes double for brands as they communicate with their customers, regardless of the platform. In our recent webinar, Empathy in Marketing: Make People’s Lives Better, we explored the idea of empathy and how brands can—and should—fully commit to it.
Joining us was Anthony D’Angelo, professor of practice at Syracuse University, who said it takes more than physical effort to get your audience’s attention: “Sometimes it’s the experience and the creativity that’ll help you capture someone.”
We were also joined by Bennett Boucher, senior channel account manager at Drift, who shared similar sentiments. “The personalized approach takes longer and involves more research,” he said, “but you’re going to get better results.”
Better results are certainly the ideal, but if brands aren’t careful, they run the risk of having their message fall flat. Our colleague Julia Lowe, proofreader at Dixon Schwabl, drove this point home: “I think the biggest danger for a business is being called out publicly for being inauthentic.”
That’s a lot for any brand to think about, but what it all comes down to is the writing. Regardless of the medium, brands need to be mindful of how their language is conveyed. And with that comes a simple question: How do I ditch the sales talk for an empathetic tone?
Make no mistake: Customers will always know if you’re not being authentic. Whether it’s forcing your product in the middle of a story or sticking your brand into a larger public narrative, people will sense your inauthenticity from a mile away. Just ask Pepsi and Kylie Jenner, both of whom learned the hard way back in 2017.
Put storytelling over statistics
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t replace statistics with storytelling, but rather use them to strengthen the story. Facts and figures are great, but they may not be valuable to your audience when taken out of context. That’s where storytelling comes into play. It adds context and answers the customer’s big question: What does it mean for me?
Before brands can answer that big question, they must—I repeat, MUST—do one simple thing: Listen. That’s all. Just listen. Listen to their customers to understand their needs, their pain points, the goals they have, the obstacles they face. This simple act goes a long way in providing the best customer experience possible. Whether through in-depth interviews, surveys or even a lunch meeting, taking the time to speak to customers and hear what they have to say makes all the difference.
For more insights into empathy in marketing, watch our on-demand webinar now.
Nick Guadagnino is a DS+CO copywriter and expert at finding the right words in every situation.