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Level Up Your Marketing Campaign

Level Up Your Marketing Campaign

Ever tried to experience life from another person’s perspective? That’s what empathetic marketing is all about.

It’s like walking a mile in your customers’ shoes, feeling their struggles, and understanding their desires. Not an easy feat, right?

This style of marketing requires us to put our biases aside and truly listen – something that doesn’t always come naturally.

In this journey we’ll dive into how brands use empathy effectively, explore its challenges and rewards alike. You’ll discover the role of relevance and severity in evoking empathy, with real-life examples from successful companies like Oxo.

Understanding Empathetic Marketing

The heart of empathetic marketing lies in understanding your customers on a deep, emotional level. But it’s not just about acknowledging their needs – it’s also about responding to them.

There’s a fascinating article published by the American Marketing Association (AMA) that describes how empathetic marketing makes you feel.

It outlines a lot of the basics of what we understand as empathy and marketing: empathetic marketing in general, is marketing materials that are rooted in empathizing with a target consumer or target audience.

Author Sarah Steimer provided some wonderful examples, including a study on the ingenuity of empathetic creativity in product design.

At the root of empathetic marketing is the definition of empathy itself: don’t just feel bad that another person (i.e., potential customer) is going through an experience, instead try to feel what they feel.

Empathy is a difficult ability for many of us to conceptualize let alone adopt. On the one hand, we understand that it is actually impossible to perform the literary trick of “getting in someone else’s shoes,” but on the other, we can imagine what it might be like to go through an experience that someone else is going through.

There are caveats, of course. We can really only imagine an experience that is relevant to us and our past experiences. This is easy for small things, like when someone is frustrated that their item is unavailable at a restaurant.

If you had your hopes for the köfte it may be hard to switch over to the lamb moussaka. But in general, the waitress will issue an “I’m so sorry about that” and you make a new choice. And even more simply, it is only a preference choice.

That you get köfte or not is not life or death (unless you have a food limitation like food intolerance).

Our engagement with empathy, therefore, relates not only to whether or not we can relate to the event or not but also to the severity of the event.

We are inclined to feel more empathy when we think about someone going through a hardship. If a friend loses their job, you can go through the motions and say “I’m so sorry that happened to you” (i.e., more like sympathizing), or you can hug them and cry with them (i.e., more like empathizing).

If we take this one level further, your engagement with empathy will also be determined on the number and variety of experiences you have had (positive or negative), and the level of emotion that you normally engage with. If you haven’t lived as aggressively as some, you may have less to relate to.

And if you are normally emotionally detached, then you might enjoy the story, but the narratives may feel less evocative.

The Emotional Connection in Marketing

Empathy lets us connect with people’s emotions and experiences. This can help create an emotional bond between your brand and consumers.

Research shows that emotionally connected customers are more valuable. They buy more often, spend more, show less price sensitivity, pay attention to your communications, follow advice—and stay loyal longer (Key Stat 1).

An interesting example is Nike’s ‘Find Your Greatness’ campaign which moved away from showcasing superstars and instead celebrated everyday athletes pushing their limits. The result? A deeply impactful campaign because viewers could relate directly.

In her article, Sarah breaks down the many ways in which empathy can benefit product design. One example is that of the food products company Oxo.

I didn’t recognize them at first, but they are popular in dried sauces and stock cubes. I have them in my pantry.

Oxo’s approach to product design is people-centered in that they are constantly reminding themselves that sometimes simple tasks can be difficult. Their image of different types of lost gloves posted in their New York City office serves as a reminder to create accessible products for all types of people.

If we think of the glove wall in terms of marketing, this can be confusing. Unless you’re an in-house marketing agency, you are most likely working with any number of clients, firms, or companies to build a creative brand.

This means that your marketing deals with a growing number of individuals (internally, on the B2B side), but then you must also identify the numerous target audiences that a brand can speak to.

This can put a strain on the style of marketing you employ, the number of marketing campaigns you host, and your ability to empathize with each target audience.

If you take into account the number of people working in a marketing agency, the number of people working on the client’s end, and then the different types of customer personas, then you’ll find yourself dealing with quite a few variables.

It might seem that connecting with customers is nearly impossible.

The Challenge of Adopting Empathy: Marketing Bias

Adopting empathy isn’t always easy. It requires genuine effort to understand others’ perspectives fully. Sometimes we may even need to let go of our preconceived notions (Key Stat 2).

For instance, many marketers make the mistake of assuming what they would like is what the customer would like too.

  • Failing to recognize cultural differences or ignoring diverse consumer segments can be detrimental.
  • Avoid making assumptions based on personal preferences or biases as these might not reflect reality for all consumers.

A marketer’s job is to inform a user of the value of a product or service and provide a pathway to purchasing (or interacting) with the product or service. This differs from product design, which is more or less about how the product is delivered to users and their experience with it (like UX/UI).

That said, it is not a bad idea to consider empathy in the eyes of a designer. UX and game designers have used an empathy map as a way to understand their users.

For marketers, empathy should provide a space for exploration in creative brainstorming and development. This means that empathy will overlap with problem-solving throughout all development processes.

One crucial error that a marketer can make is to problem-solve for a scenario that they are most likely to be in and fail to consider that a consumer might have a different viewpoint from them.

This is called marketer bias, and it relates to cognitive bias. We have a lot on our plates and simplifying information in order to understand it is just one of the many ways we cope. It is also one of the causes of both positive and negative cognitive biases.

I’d like to think that in every marketing development program there is a point at which the team stops and reflects on their marketing choices.

This means assessing normal specs of the job but also checking cognitive biases in the language, images, and messages conveyed.

Case Study – Oxo’s Empathetic Approach to Product Design

Oxo, a well-known name in the kitchen utensils industry, stands out for its empathetic approach to product design.

But how exactly does empathy fit into their creative process? Let’s dig deeper.

Empathy in Creative Brainstorming and Development

In Oxo’s case, empathy is not an afterthought; it’s woven into the fabric of their entire design philosophy. Their mission is to create products that can be utilized effortlessly and comfortably by any user.

To achieve this goal, they put themselves in the shoes of potential users during brainstorming sessions. They think about different types of consumers – from those with limited hand strength due to conditions like arthritis or aging parents trying to open tight jar lids while preparing meals for family gatherings.

This type of empathetic thinking leads them toward designs that solve real problems faced by people every day.

The result? Products like their iconic peeler and can opener were born. These tools aren’t just practical—they’re also user-friendly for all hands on deck.

An interesting aspect here is OXO’s practice called “empathy trials”. During these trials, designers perform tasks using their non-dominant hand or while wearing gloves simulating mobility limitations—giving them firsthand experience of what some customers might go through when interacting with household objects.

Paying Attention To The Details That Matter Most

The magic behind each product doesn’t end at conception—it continues right up until production. Every detail matters, as even a slight alteration can result in substantial differences with regards to comfort and usability.

Take Oxo’s Good Grips peeler, for example. It features a large handle that’s easy to grip, even with wet hands or limited hand strength. This thoughtful design has turned it into an essential kitchen tool across many households around the world.

This tells us that empathetic marketing isn’t just about grasping how others feel. It’s about taking those insights and employing them to make a genuine difference.

For brands like Oxo, this means creating products from the ground up with an authentic understanding of what users need.

Becoming an Empathetic Marketer

Perspective. It’s about understanding their needs, wants, and feelings. This way, you can craft messages that truly resonate with them and make a meaningful connection.

The Importance of Self-Awareness and Substitution

Becoming aware of our own biases is the first step towards countering them. In marketing, this self-awareness helps us create campaigns that resonate more effectively with diverse audiences.

To combat marketer bias, it’s helpful to use a technique called substitution. Instead of asking ourselves what we would do in a certain situation (which reflects our own preferences), we should ask what someone else would do – perhaps an average consumer or someone who represents our target demographic.

A study conducted by Harvard Business School found that this simple shift in thinking can help reduce decision-making errors and increase predictive accuracy – two outcomes any marketer would welcome.

Recognizing Our Blind Spots

We all have blind spots—things about ourselves or others that are obvious but overlooked due to personal prejudices or preconceptions.

For instance, if you’re always drinking coffee from your favorite mug at home while working on marketing strategies, you might assume everyone does so too—and design your next ad campaign around cozy home coffee breaks.

This approach may miss out on reaching those customers who prefer taking their morning brew outdoors or at a local cafe. Recognizing such blind spots is critical to crafting marketing messages that resonate with all types of consumers.

A research paper published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology revealed how preconceived notions could significantly distort our understanding and evaluation of facts, even when we are conscious that it is happening.

Diverse Experiences & Emotional Engagement

Grasping how a person’s background and their degree of passionate engagement can influence their capacity to sympathize.

Our empathy is often shaped by our personal experiences. When we can relate to someone else’s experience, it’s easier for us to understand what they’re going through (Key Stat 3).

This isn’t just theory – companies like Google have seen the impact firsthand. They found that design teams who had direct contact with users developed designs that met user needs 27% more effectively.

Research has demonstrated that those who have experienced a variety of life events generally display higher levels of empathy than individuals with fewer experiences.

But diversity alone isn’t enough; there also needs to be an element of emotional engagement.

Engaging emotionally means not just understanding another person’s feelings but feeling them ourselves—a phenomenon psychologists refer as ’emotional contagion.’

Feedback Mechanisms and Consumer Pain Points

In the world of empathetic marketing, understanding your consumer’s pain points is key. But, traditional feedback mechanisms like open-ended questionnaires often miss the mark.

This is because they’re not always designed with empathy in mind. They may ask for feedback on specific aspects of a product or service but fail to delve into the real issues consumers are facing.

It’s like trying to read a book in the dark – you know there’s a story there, but you can’t see it.

Alternative Methods for Capturing Consumer Feedback

Finding more effective ways to capture customer feedback requires an empathetic approach that gets at their true pain points.

For instance, using customer journey mapping, which allows businesses to step into their customers’ shoes and experience what they go through when interacting with products or services.

We need tools that let us feel what our customers feel – figuratively speaking.

A tool such as social listening can be particularly useful here; it enables companies to monitor digital conversations about their brand or industry and gather insights directly from those involved – essentially eavesdropping on your customer’s conversations.

By doing so, brands get an unfiltered view of how people really perceive them.

  • Social Listening: Social listening lets businesses track online chatter about themselves across various platforms—providing valuable insights straight from consumers mouths (or keyboards).
  • User Experience Testing: This involves observing users interact with your product/service firsthand—revealing usability issues that might not have been obvious otherwise.
  • Voice-of-Customer Programs: These programs collect customer feedback through various channels (like surveys, interviews, etc.) and analyze it to extract meaningful insights.

All these methods give you a richer understanding of your customers’ experiences. You’re not just looking at numbers or ratings – you’re hearing their stories and feeling their frustrations. It’s the equivalent of putting on 3D glasses in a movie theater – everything suddenly becomes more real and immersive.

Collecting. The real magic happens when businesses know how to read the data and use it wisely. This helps them make informed decisions, enhancing their strategies and boosting overall performance.

The Impact of Empathetic Marketing on Business Outcomes

Empathy in marketing is not just a buzzword. It’s an approach that can drastically transform your business outcomes, from lead generation to customer trust.

Organic Lead Generation through Empathy

Tapping into empathy helps businesses generate organic leads. But how does this work? Let’s say you’re creating content for your audience – be it blog posts, videos, or social media updates.

If you use empathy to understand their pain points and aspirations, the resulting content will resonate with them more deeply.

This creates an emotional connection which encourages them to engage further with your brand – perhaps by signing up for a newsletter or trialing a product. Neil Patel has outlined this process, demonstrating that empathetic marketing drives organic traffic growth.

Building Brand Awareness with Empathy

Incorporating empathy in marketing also aids in building greater brand awareness. When people feel seen and understood by a company, they’re more likely to remember it and talk about it positively among friends and family.

A prime example of this is Airbnb’s ‘Belong Anywhere’ campaign where they highlighted real stories of hosts opening their homes to strangers thereby showcasing genuine human connections.

This heartfelt storytelling earned Airbnb considerable positive attention boosting its brand recognition globally. HubSpot has noted such campaigns as effective tools for promoting brands via empathetic narratives.

Positive Customer Experience and Consumer Trust

Lastly, empathy is crucial in enhancing customer experience and trust. People want to feel that businesses understand their needs and concerns, rather than just viewing them as sources of profit.

A great example here is Zappos – the online shoe retailer renowned for its excellent customer service. Their approach to put customers’ needs first has won them not only repeat business but also rave reviews – a clear demonstration of increased consumer trust due to empathetic practices. Forbes describes Zappo’s commitment towards providing an outstanding customer experience.

So, to sum it up, when we use empathy effectively, it can lead to amazing outcomes in many areas. It’s a powerful tool that shouldn’t be overlooked.

FAQs in Relation to Empathetic Marketing

What is empathetic marketing?

Empathetic marketing is a strategy that involves understanding and addressing the emotional needs of customers. It’s about creating authentic connections.

Why is empathy so important in marketing?

Empathy helps marketers create content that resonates with consumers, leading to stronger brand loyalty and improved customer experience.

What is an empathy strategy?

An empathy strategy focuses on understanding customers’ feelings, experiences, and pain points to tailor your offerings accordingly.


Empathetic marketing is a journey, not just a destination.

You’ve learned how to walk in your customers’ shoes, understanding their desires and struggles. Connecting with customers on an emotional level is essential.

We’ve explored the challenge of adopting empathy and how relevance and severity can impact this process. But remember: diversity matters! Engaging with varied experiences helps us become better marketers.

Oxo taught us that empathetic product design works wonders for everyone involved – it bridges gaps between people’s needs and business solutions. This lesson from Oxo highlights the power of creativity blended with empathy.

Avoid marketer bias by maintaining self-awareness at all times. Feedback mechanisms are crucial too – but make sure they truly capture consumer pain points!

Embrace empathetic marketing fully to enjoy organic lead generation, increased brand awareness, positive customer experience, and greater consumer trust.

Your business outcomes will thank you!

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