Empathy: The gateway to marketing success

“Empathy: noun – The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” A quick Google search and *poof*, an instant answer.

But empathy in business is something more than just that. It serves to build bridges and engage customers. It develops a trust and rapport with otherwise total strangers.

Empathy in marketing is a powerful tool. Vanity can be powerful too, but for all the wrong reasons.

Nobody likes a showoff, and boasters are quick to sour their listeners. In marketing, the same principle holds true.

Consumers aren’t stumbling across your web site looking to see what accolades you’ve won; they’re hoping to find something they can use.

When businesses spend too much time on their own vanity and accomplishments, they inadvertently shift the focus from the customer to themselves.

Why Your Marketing Should Focus on Solving Your Customer’s Problems, Not Bragging

Too often, organizations fall into the vanity trap in their marketing.

Whether it’s talking about how they’ve been in business for 150 years or how many burgers they’ve sold, it steals the spotlight from the consumer and places it on themselves.

It’s easy to understand where this impulse stems from. After all, if you’re the best there is, your customers want to know about it, right?

As it turns out, this isn’t necessarily the case. Everybody loves to talk about themselves, but the customer is the one holding the money.

When potential customers come across your website, social media outlets, or other marketing platforms, they are not interested in how big or beautiful your company is.

Instead, there’s a better chance they simply have a problem that needs resolved or a desire that needs filled.

Your Customers Don’t Care What You Think

Everyone is searching for something. Whether it’s love, buried treasure, or a new pair of shoes (that you just happen to offer for sale), everyone is on the quest for a product or service to fill their needs.

The journey your customer is on is uniquely their own. From the moment they get out of bed until the moment they hit the hay, they think about their own lives.

It’s the only one they are focused on and the only one that needs to be addressed. Anything beyond that is wasted energy and precious time.

Even the most thoughtful and generous individuals among us view life through their own eyes.

Although talking about how great your business is sounds like a great way to spread your message, people simply aren’t interested in hearing about it.

Worse, it could be driving your customers away.

The key then, is to position yourself in such a way as to extend a proverbial olive branch to your potential customer. They need help, and you can provide it.

Your Customers Have a Problem. Offer the Solution

If your customers don’t care about how good you are, then how can you get them to care about your brand?

By offering solutions to their problems.

This might seem obvious, but doing it in a way that isn’t off-putting or alienating is key. Talking about your own brand isn’t necessarily going to do the trick.

When you form your marketing, find ways to offer solutions beyond simply thrusting your latest product offerings in their face.

Offer content that provides educational material or helpful advice. Become their guide, navigating them through their journey.

After all, theirs is the only one they’re really concerned about.

If you can offer helpful solutions, advice, or information, you begin the process of building trust. It is then this trust that is used to close the deal or land the sale.

A Helping Hand

Customers might come across your website for a variety of reasons. If they already know what they’re looking for, that’s great.

But there’s a better chance they’re simply seeking information on their problem. They might be comparing jeans, looking for a review on a power saw, or wondering what can remove grass stains.

Offer some sort of useful content as part of your marketing. Content that focuses on serving customers instead of your brand will be far better received and engaged with.

Building Trust with Empathy

All of this isn’t to say that a business should never mention their accomplishments. In small doses, awards won and clients helped does help build consumer confidence. The mistake is when it becomes a priority.

Every human being experiences life in different ways and through different eyes, and yet everybody shares a few common desires.

Oprah Winfrey summed this up best during her final episode: “Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?”

This powerful message should be taken to heart not just by individuals, but businesses as well. When your organization stops telling customers what you want them to hear, and start offering an empathetic ear, building a better brand becomes possible.

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