Once the customer is well understood, there is the capacity to engage that customer in a customised manner, demonstrating empathy and using language, messaging, and media they will be more inclined to related to. Such engagement also becomes more effective in building relationships.
- Use content to establish the empathy that leads to sales.
Cyber-security is arguably the most significant threat to business continuity in 2021. Ransomware damages costs are expected to reach US$20 billion in 2021. Research suggests that around 95% of cyber-security breaches arise from inadvertent employee error. With these kinds of statistics in mind, Microsoft created the ‘autonomy of data breach’ website.
With the aim of educating customers and potential customers – making it clear why its products are essential, Microsoft created this interactive website addressing cyber-security issues through the lens of a ‘data heist’. The site put users in a hacker’s shoes, taking them through the stages of a data breach and showing them exactly how the data is stolen. Relevant statistics were also provided.
Prior to this education process, while users understood that cyber-security breaches could be a problem, they did not understand exactly how they happened or how easily they happened. By presenting an engaging story and supported by real data, Microsoft brought the problem to life in an accessible way. Through the interactive experience, customers began to appreciate their vulnerabilities and better understand how to protect themselves.
This is a good example of how content can be used to engage and educate an audience. It is also a great demonstration of empathy-based marketing. Microsoft displayed empathy in recognising that the customers had a poor understanding of the problem, and through the process, the customer developed an empathy for the problem and the importance of taking action.
Use content to engage and educate consumers – this building the empathy that drives sales.
- Use content to communicate in a way that develops and leverages empathy.
Establishing empathy can be beneficial in developing an understanding of customers and potential customers. Empathy can also be a powerful tool for engaging customers and potential customers. Having developed an understanding of the target audience, empathy-based content can be used to engage customers in a way that drives sales and ultimately brand loyalty.
Having identified and developed a comprehensive understanding of the target audience – maximising engagement requires:
- Establishing a persona.
After researching the target audience – create a persona that talks to that audience – or that the audience can relate to. Then talk to consumers about their likes and dislikes, motivations, and challenges.
- Identify and address problems.
Ensure that your content directly addresses the problems of the target audience, as identified by research. Demonstrate that you understand their problems and offer solutions they will engage with.
- Focus on the customer.
By definition – empathy-based marketing involves focusing on the customer. It is not about selling but rather about demonstrating empathy by engaging the audience and establishing an enduring connection.
- Be authentic and one of them.
Paul Bloom, the academic psychologist, highlights the relationship between empathy and identity. Human beings feel and display more empathy for people they recognise as one of their group. It is important to be one of them.
These points are relevant to all communication but have particular relevance to the content used in empathy-based marketing. Content satisfying these conditions can demonstrate that your brand is empathetic and can build empathy with the customer.
Adopt an empathy-based approach to content marketing.
- Establish a brand community that will build empathy that fuels relationships.
Central to any successful marketing campaign is understanding the customer and engaging the customer. A tool many successful marketers are using to address both understanding and engagement is the brand community, which offers the added advantages of reducing marketing costs and helping the target audience identify with the brand to foster brand loyalty.
Consider these statistics:
- 66% of US businesses turn to brand communities for product development.
- 71% of US businesses use customer collaborations for market research.
- 64% of US businesses say a brand community has improved decision-making.
- 86% of Fortune 500 companies say brand communities provide insight into customer needs.
- 80% of marketers indicate that building brand communities have increased traffic.
A brand community certainly represents the most effective means of facilitating empathy-based marketing and maybe the most effective tool for reducing research and communication costs. Essential features of an effective brand community include:
- A clearly identified leader and assiduous management.
- While based online – they are reflected offline.
- High quality, customised content that engages members.
- Ongoing communication and interaction to foster engagement.
- The use of language, icons, and traditions to create a personal identification.
An online brand community need not be expensive to create and can be incorporated with your website to reduce costs and increase engagement with website content.
Develop a brand community that will build empathy and relationships.
- Stop telling your customer what they want and start co-creating.
Nothing demonstrates empathy, and nothing leverages its potential more than co-creation – or working with the target audience to develop products and design the customer experience. In many respects, a natural extension of the brand community and, indeed, a brand community can provide the foundation for ongoing co-creation.
The fundamental strength of co-creation is that it enables the target audience to work with the business to develop a product they will purchase and repurchase – and design an environment where they will feel comfortable making a purchase. Another strength of co-creation is that it is not expensive or difficult to organise – and can be used just as effectively by small businesses as it can be the very largest of businesses. Co-creation also fosters empathy through collaboration.
Approaches to co-creation include:
- Brand communities – ongoing discussions.
- Workshops – regular or intermittent.
- Pilot testing – and reviews.
Co-creation can assist with:
- Generating ideas.
- Identifying and solving problems.
- Developing implementation plans.
Co-creation can most certainly help with:
- Product development and fine-tuning.
- Customer experience design and fine-tuning.
- Developing a pricing strategy.
To embrace co-creation, marketers and business owners must first reduce their dependency on intuition. Here is a link to some great examples of co-creation. CLICK HERE
Embrace co-creation to develop products customers want to buy.
- To maximise loyalty, create a culture that has empathy at the very centre.
A friend spent half an hour stocking up at a fresh food market, but after having all the produce tallied at the checkout, found that he had forgotten his wallet. The staff member at the counter could have sent him away – especially given that he was not known to her. Instead, she called the manager over and asked if my friend could pay the next day. Having empathy for my friend and the time he had spent stocking up and going through the checkout, the store owner agreed. That was three years ago, and my friend not only paid the next day but still shops at the store.
The store owner empathised with my friend, recognising that this might secure him another loyal customer. The shop assistant also emphasised with my friend, calling the owner over, when she could have just turned him away. The store demonstrated a culture of empathy. The fact is, of course, empathy is a human response, and if it is to be present and if the benefits are to be forthcoming, all staff must buy into and display empathy. There has to be a culture of empathy.
It surprises me that empathy features so rarely in the definition of an organisations brand and staff expectations regarding culture. Surely, empathising with customers – feeling what they feel – is central to excellent customer service and a great customer experience. It is most certainly central to building a relationship with customers. All great brands and businesses should surely:
- Include empathy in their values.
- Incorporate empathy into their culture.
- Only employ people capable of displaying empathy.
- Ensure all staff have the skills to display empathy.
- Ensure all staff understand the benefits of empathy.
Building a business committed to empathy requires building g a culture that provides the highest priority on empathy and ensures all staff can be empathetic. The starting point is ensuring that all staff understand the importance of empathy.
Create a culture of empathy.
Empathy is central to effective customer engagement, which is central to developing the relationships that maximise the lifetime value of each customer.