Empathy in Marketing: Why It Matters in a Post-Pandemic World | Social Joey

It’s been nearly a year since the entire country essentially hit “pause.” In mid-March 2020, what we thought of as our normal lives changed—and a year later, we’re still picking up the pieces!

If your business or franchise navigated the craziness of 2020 and is still kicking, consider this a round of applause! You showed strength you may not have known you had, and likely pivoted in ways you didn’t know were possible.

While COVID-19 vaccines have received emergency approval from the FDA and are gradually being distributed across the country, it will still be a while before things resemble “normal” again, for individuals and businesses alike.

Some of the traits and lessons we’ve learned this last year are likely to stick around for the long run. One such lesson? The need to infuse your marketing efforts with a big dose of empathy.

Let’s explore why.

What Empathy Is

Before we dig into why empathy is important in marketing, let’s first define it. Empathy is commonly conflated with sympathy, but the two things are different.

“Sympathy” is when you share the feelings of another person. “Empathy,” on the other hand, is when you understand the feelings of another person, even if you don’t share those feelings.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “put yourself in his shoes.” That’s empathy.

The Role of Empathy in Marketing

OK, but what does this all have to do with marketing? In the pandemic and post-pandemic world, empathy will play an essential role in how we market.

Simply consider how your life has been affected this past year. Even if you were blessed and didn’t experience some of the most severe consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic—infection or even death due to COVID-19, the loss of a job or a home, income reduction—your life was affected in some negative way.

It’s quite likely that what you wanted and needed has evolved. That means that your needs as a consumer have also changed—and that’s where marketing empathy comes into play.

In order to find lasting success as a franchise, you have to gain a true understanding of what your customers need and want. You can’t make assumptions, either. Doing so typically leads to solutions that don’t solve customer problems, which isn’t a winning ticket.

Instead of building a solution and then looking for a customer, find your customers—listen to them—and then build your solution.

How to Infuse Your Marketing With Empathy

How can you create marketing that’s empathetic? We have a few suggestions for where to begin:

Truly Listen

There’s a big difference between listening to decide how to answer and truly listening. When it comes to your customers, it’s important to do the latter.

Engage your customers and potential customers in conversations, both in-person and online. You want to know their fears, their hesitancies, their everyday problems, and what brings them joy.

While these things may sound irrelevant in the scheme of the service or product you offer, you’re looking to truly understand the whole person when it comes to those in your audience. This will help you understand what they need, and how your business can become a go-to.

Nail Down Your Customer Problems

Don’t create solutions and go looking for a problem to solve. Solve a problem that your desired customers already have.

This falls into the “listen up” tip above, but it also stands alone. You want to understand your customer persona—you want to have it memorized, in fact—but you also want to make sure you’re matching what you offer to what is actually needed.

This is not something you can set and forget, either. More than anything, this pandemic has taught us that things can and do change quickly. What your customers need today may not be true tomorrow.

Create Content That’s Consistently Helpful

You’ve listened to the needs and wants of your customers and those who may become your customers. What next?

This is the part that many people think of as “marketing.” You now want to create content that leans on the understanding you’ve gained about your audience and writes to their hesitancies and their needs.

Provide them with information that’s useful, helpful, and relevant—and not just before they make a purchase from you. Ideally, your social media content, blogs and other materials should provide insights that are helpful before purchase and after.

Make It Human

If there’s anything that most of us need more of after 2020, it’s a human touch. Even if you’ve been safely tucked at home with people you love, odds are you yearn for interaction with others outside the home.

How does that translate into marketing? It means that customers are looking to engage with your employees and your brand.

Infuse your content with personality—and help your audience to see that they’re truly being seen and heard. That means listening to any feedback they provide and gearing future content (and services or products) toward meeting those needs.

Obviously, you can ask for customer feedback through surveys and things of that sort. But you can also show there’s a human behind your brand in more subtle ways:

  • Incorporate photos and videos of your team in your social media posts.
  • Create contests and other interactive content that allows your audience to participate.
  • Engage with your community by taking part in neighborhood or city activities or events.
  • Ensure prompt responses to customer messages on all social media platforms.

Keep Things Positive…to an Extent

Empathetic marketing should make your audience feel good. That means largely maintaining positivity in the content you create by putting a positive spin on things.

But don’t go to the extreme. Part of being human is recognizing that life is not all about roses and sunshine.

Sprinkle some empathy in your content by showing you recognize the things going on in the world and in our lives, then offer a solution, a suggestion, or a tip to get to a more positive place.

Make It a Softer Sell

No one goes on social media looking to get beaten over the head with consumer ads. Yes, we know—that sounds contrarian coming from a team of marketing gurus!

But there’s a way to get your marketing message across and boost your ROI without constantly hard-selling your business offerings. If you’re following the tips listed above, you’ll likely find that your ideal content lineup is a blend of photos, videos, external resources, and community-related content, with some calls to action mixed in.

That’s the way to go. By building your brand up as a go-to resource, your customers will see you as an expert and when they need your service or product, that’s where they’ll turn. Marketing with empathy works.

Looking to infuse your social media marketing with a dose of empathy? That’s what we’re here for! Contact us today to learn how we can help your brand.