Why empathetic marketing still is the path forward
You have heard the old adage about walking a mile in someone else's shoes. To be successful, marketers do not have to walk in their customers' shoes; they just have to put them on.
Empathetic marketing may have hit buzzword status, but it has always been the key to acquiring and retaining loyal, satisfied customers. The principle revolves entirely around the customer journey.
Do you know what experience your customers have with your brand?
The customer journey is every interaction a customer has with your brand from first blush to brand evangelist.
- It is the Instagram post they see that makes them want to click to learn more.
- It is the Facebook Live video they tune in to and find themselves hooked on.
- It's the personalized catalogue of products, tailored to individual interests.
- It is wandering into your company and getting happily lost in the experience of finding something unique that makes them or someone they care about feel special.
- It is every touchpoint you have with your customers from advertising to purchase consideration to fulfillment to billing and service after the sale.
Empathetic marketing seeks to understand the customer journey and optimize it for the customer's wants, needs, interests and motivations.
Practicing empathy in marketing also is essential to forming an emotional connection with customers, which is critical to long term success.
Connecting with customers is harder today
Reeling from a global pandemic, competition is fierce in every sector, but especially in retail markets. Supply chain disruption, economic upheaval and a demand for safety and health at every checkpoint along the buyer journey has made operating at a profit exceedingly difficult for most, if not everyone.
As in-person avenues are whittled away, marketers are challenged to find new ways to form emotional connections with consumers. While it may require innovation, consumers desire to establish relationships with brands, perhaps more, than before.
As we come off the effects of a world staggered by so much recent isolation, people are craving closeness again.
Forming emotional connections isn't magic. It's science.
Investing in good customer journey research that reveals what your customers actually experience with your brand provides the insight you need to put yourself in your customers' shoes.
Surveys of current customers, lookalike audiences, sales members and back-office staff are all important as they will reveal what gaps exist between what you think your customers think of your brand and what they actually do.
Empathy can help you be the brand of choice for your customers.
When they have an issue, how do they want to be able to connect with your brand for understanding and resolution?
The key to empathetic marketing is to ask all those questions about your customer and not yourself. Instead of asking how you want to market, sell, shop and ship, put your customers at the center of that equation.
Then, organize your marketing and operations around them. When you begin to think and feel like your customers, you will find yourself attracting many more of them to your brand.
Mary Ann O'Brien is founder and CEO of OBI Creative, a research-based, innovation-driven advertising agency in Omaha, Nebraska. OBI starts and finishes each and every marketing plan, and advertising campaign with the customer at the center—determining motivations, behaviours and key consideration drivers.