By: Tim Leon
Brands making an emotional connection is more important than ever.
Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler said, “Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.” The ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes builds a strong foundation of care and establishes trust. For marketers, it is more important than ever to create an empathetic relationship between the brands we represent and the target audiences we are trying to reach.
There’s no doubt that the last two years have truly been an emotional roller coaster for all of us. Marketers have been challenged to connect emotionally with consumers. Because of this, we’ve determined that creating a tone sheet and messaging resonates in a powerful way that allows for a deeper brand-consumer relationship.
Customers want to know that your brand genuinely cares about them right now and that you’re willing to take actions that demonstrate empathy for the challenges they are facing. This sentiment, which began as a gut feeling to many members of our marketing team, has been backed up by significant industry data.
CMOs Are Paying Attention to Empathy
What initially sparked our team’s interest in the topic of empathy marketing was the 2020 Dentsu Chief Marketing Officer survey, which reported on key insights from industry leaders. According to the data, the top concern of CMOs is understanding changes in consumer behavior and aligning with these new sentiments.
Successful Marketers are Seeing the Power of Empathy
Not only is empathy-driven marketing the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense. It has been proven that brands demonstrating true empathy to their customers benefit from improved corporate reputation, increased customer loyalty and a true competitive advantage. To describe this phenomenon, we coined the phrase “Return On Empathy,” which defines the numerous benefits brands garner from infusing authentic compassion into their marketing and advertising efforts and customer interactions.
Below are tips on how to incorporate empathy into your work:
1. Stay Flexible: As we see new spikes in the virus, increasing economic woes and new challenges to businesses constantly popping up, brands must stay nimble with their communications and messaging. Running generic, evergreen campaigns when your consumers need comfort and reassurance leaves them feeling disconnected. Listening to and leaning into their concerns, rather than putting on rose-colored glasses and avoiding them, makes a big difference.
2. Listen and Learn: It’s crucial to stay on top of consumer behavior trends and to constantly check in on the sentiments from your customer base.Whether it’s by engaging on social media channels, conducting a quick online research study or personally checking in with customers, a regular and consistent monitoring process is essential to establish within your company.
3. Actions Speak Louder Than Words: One change in consumer behavior is the desire for brands to take action on social and political issues that are represented in its values and mission. A recent study by Sprout Social reported that 70% of respondents believe it’s important for brands to take a public stance on social and political issues, and more than half reportedly believe that brands only do so when it is beneficial for public relations and marketing purposes.
4. Take Care of Your Employees: Consumers have made it clear that how companies treat employees is a major factor in their purchase decision. Negative publicity from disgruntled employees can spread quickly as consumers are increasingly aware of companies mistreating employees.
What Does This Mean for You?
Successfully demonstrating empathy keeps your brand top of mind. To experience a positive “Return on Empathy,” a brand must be aware of what consumers care about and understand the challenges they face both in their business affairs and everyday lives. Cultivating a strong brand identity and creating positive rapport with your customer base will help you stand out and succeed.
Building a strong perception and identity is a strong marketing tactic across several industries, and it is especially beneficial to Special Districts and Business Improvement Districts. Creating awareness of your district helps people understand the positive impact your work has on businesses, residents and the overall community. Learn more about how to enhance your district’s brand identity and incorporate the key findings about empathy marketing by reading our latest whitepaper here.
About Tim Leon and Geile Leon:
Tim Leon is a founding partner and President of Geile Leon Marketing Communications – a brand-driven strategic marketing communications firm located in St. Louis, Missouri. Their purpose is to help clients solve their biggest brand challenges and to “Make It Mean Something” by emotionally connecting brands to their customers. www.geileon.com