Brand empathy? Sounds strange, right? How can brands have feelings? Welcome to social media; brands now go beyond being just brick & mortar stores or simply products & tools. They need that extra spark to stand out in a saturated market. Brand empathy is a great way to create that extra spark & fuel a lasting flame.
Empathy – the capacity to understand and share someone else’s feelings – is a skill we all share as humans (or at least the decent ones). It helps us relate to one another on a deeper, more meaningful level – and that’s why it needs to be at the center of marketing efforts. Using empathy to drive marketing means putting ourselves in the shoes of the person using your product – I’m sure you’ve heard that before. We need to ask: “What’s important to them? What keeps them up at night? How can we better their lives? How do they enjoy spending their time?”
When empathy drives marketing, we can engage with people to create utility & provide entertainment, while building the connections brands need to survive and thrive.
People are all part of a huge network and the days of easy A to B marketing are gone. People are influenced by multiple sources now (friends, peer reviews, experts, your competitor, etc.). They also examine and ultimately buy a brand’s purpose, share its stories, and help to create its meaning. We need empathy to engage in this process with them.
Sure, we need data and analytics to gather insight, adapt and optimize – which we do as well. But at the core of it all, we need empathy and intuition to interpret and create. Think about it: Google, despite its collection of endless data, still builds its products around people and what they do.
Focus on pain points and feelings, not placement and positioning.
The excitement around new technology today prompts some people to build plans for various channels just because they think they should be there. That is simply wrong.
Instead of, “What can our brand do on Twitter?” we should ask, “What does Katie need to do?” Reach her where she is throughout her day (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, wherever) and provide value to the things she cares about. When a brand provides more value, more people will adopt it into their lives.
When we start by asking, “What do people need?” and use empathy to answer it, the solution generally comes in the form of content.
Build relationships with your brand.
Relationships aren’t one-sided. People always figure out when a friend only talks about himself, and then they cut him out. Guess what? They’ll do the same with a self-centered brand. People today are more eager than ever to connect with brands in the same way they connect with their friends.
Empathy-driven marketing allows brands to be more human than ever and build stronger relationships with people – that are mutually valuable. They can do this through active listening and participation in the social space, following the already established norms, to engage brand enthusiasts, as well as untapped consumers.
Create experiences that will last, online and off.
People remember and share experiences with brands – how we made them feel – not tag lines. Empathy-driven marketing creates better, more memorable experiences that carry over into the offline world. Marketing that starts with the technology or the social media channel tends to stop there.
Our multi-channeled world can feel chaotic and the temptation to reach for shiny new objects is real. Make sure you’re reaching for the right ones.