Empathy (noun)— “the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.”
Traditionally, there was a clear divide between brands and consumers, with the relationship being no more than the exchange of goods or services for money, for the benefit of said consumers.
However, as social media has grown in popularity, the brand-to-consumer relationship has evolved into something much more personal. As a result, brands have been forced to developing marketing strategies which align themselves with their target audiences, and being empathetic is a crucial element of this.
So, why should you appear more empathetic to resonate with your target audience?
What is Empathy-Based Marketing?
Empathy-based marketing is all about perspective, and you should be putting yourself in the position of your customers.
While you might think an idea is a strong from your position inside of a company, your customers (or potential customers) may completely disagree and this could become an issue for you and your brand.
By putting yourself in an unfamiliar position you will create a greater understanding of your customers’ wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings.
For empathy-based marketing to work, you must understand who your customers are, what motivates them, and what challenges they are facing.
Your role as a brand is to fill a void in the lives of the public so to improve their lives, or make life easier. If you understand what this void is and what motivates them, you can provide a solution to the problem at hand.
The taboo around brands being empathic is gradually being removed and companies are beginning to care more about the thoughts and feelings of their customers and employees.
Four tips to incorporate empathy into your marketing strategy are:
#1 Focus on your customer — this is who you are trying to help after all. Know them. Understand them. Be your own target customer.
The more detail you have about who this is, the more you will be able to resonate with them as a brand.
#2 Build relationships — interact with your customers to show you care. Our lives are built around relationships, and there is no reason why a brand can’t create meaningful relationships with their customers.
Relationships help to build credibility, and stronger relationships are harder to break.
#3 Give them what they want — don’t beat around the bush. Know your customers’ needs and what motivates them, and then give them the content they want.
If your content isn’t relatable, your content is not effective.
#4 Be a good listener — communication isn’t a one-way concept. By all means, make sure your voice is heard (how else are you going to be visible otherwise?!), but make sure you’re taking the time to listen.
Paying attention to your customers can help you get to the heart of an issue, and help you to help them.
Why Does Empathy Matter in Branding?
Many companies are guilty of relying too heavily on data when they are thinking about branding and marketing.
When beginning a new marketing campaign or strategy, using readily-available data and research is a great starting point, but a reliance on data alone will leave your marketing strategies with weak spots, preventing you from developing well-rounded and innovative ideas.
To combat this, try coupling data with a more empathetic approach (remembering the four aforementioned tips), to create a more welcoming and relatable strategy that will help boost results.
Many companies fall into the trap of seeming too much like a machine and their audience can tell that the approach is monotone and lacks a real connection with the reader.
One way to avoid this is to be more human. Use storytelling to your advantage to establish a common connection with your target audience, and establish the tone and voice of your brand.
Ensure blogs, social media posts, emails, and other content feel less suit and tie, and more dress-down Friday — keep it classy, but don’t be afraid to show off a some of personality.
Empathy Encourages Engagement
More empathy in branding leads to better audience engagement.
Understanding the values, motives and what your audience care about, will enable you and your brand to create content more relatable to your audience.
Typically, generation Z is big on companies and brands showing empathy towards notable causes such as gender equality, climate change, and so on. The brands which use their platform, status, and voice effectively, generally see greater levels of engagement, which is a fantastic image to illustrate.
What are the Four Pillars of Brand Empathy?
For brands to be recognized as being empathetic, four pillars of brand empathy must be followed: Mean It, Get It, Feel It, Do It.
To mean it, brands need to be sincere with both, communication, and business practice. Real people, real stories, real emotion.
To get it, brands should understand different perspectives by using a customer-focused (or customer-centric) approach.
If a brand is to feel it, emotions are cared for. Treat all stakeholders fairly, and equally. The better a brand can understand the emotion relating to a product, service, or issue, the more likely they are to actually care about the matter.
In many ways, a brand that does it is going to add value to a customers’ life. Less talk, more action. Be seen to stand up for issues, and don’t be afraid to take a stance where necessary. Actions speak louder than words.
The Impact of Empathy on Marketing Objective
The empathy value index seeks to understand which brands are able to create empathetic cultures successfully, and which aren’t so successful.
“The higher a brand scores on the Empathy Value Index, the more likely consumers are to identify themselves with it. Four timeless likely in fact.”
Consumers are 2.7 x more likely to consider a brand, 2.8 x more likely to buy a product or service from a brand, and 3.4 x more likely to be loyal to a brand, if a brand exhibits an empathetic environment and operation.
Data and feedback from your audience will provide good insight for you moving forward, but more is needed to develop brand empathy.
You need to align your employees who work more closely with consumers so you can hear what is being said, and then a more clear plan can be developed.
This will help you to align various teams or departments within your company to keep everyone on the same page; and help you to develop empathy maps that relate to your buyer’s journey — a buyer’s journey map is the path a customer takes from first interaction to purchase from a brand.
As cliché as it may be, consumers really do care if a brand is empathetic. Consumers want to know about the causes a brand supports, how a company interacts with them, and want a brand to be relatable.
Without empathy, brands appear robotic and non-human, and nobody wants to interact with something that’s not sincere, so brands will suffer as a result.
Empathy makes your company approachable. Empathy makes your company feel human.
Contact SALVé for a free discovery call to find out how we can take your business to the next level.