Empathy as the Centerpiece of Your Marketing Strategy

Sometimes, our industry gets a bad rap. But we’ve kind of earned it.

We’ve peddled such fallacies as certain soaps will make you more beautiful, certain candy bars are better at satiating hunger, and certain cigarettes provide better throat protection against irritation and cough. Seriously. That one’s real.

But we’ve come a long way, haven’t we? In a lot of ways, we have. But in some ways, our marketing messaging hasn’t evolved as far as we’d like to believe. Our audiences certainly have though. A survey by Clear Channel and JCDecaux in March 2021 found that just 34% of 1,000 consumers surveyed said that they trusted the brands they used. That’s honestly higher than I expected it to be, but considerably lower than it should be.

So we’ve got some work to do. But I see that statistic as an opportunity. Because if you can overcome that statistic and become a brand people trust, you’ll become impossible to compete with.

Trickery is no longer a viable marketing strategy. But empathy is. 

It Starts With the Heart

If your first instinct is to concoct a plan to make your brand seem trustworthy, you’re going to have an uphill climb. Your customers can see through that, and it’s going to do more harm than good.

Instead, I think we need to focus on getting to know our audience on a deeper level, beyond their likelihood of interest in our product. We need to get into their heart and identify what they need. What would make their lives better? What is one problem we could help them overcome?? What are we uniquely positioned to give them that will have a profound and positive impact on helping them overcome a challenge or capitalize on an opportunity?

It’s probably not a case study. Or a video highlighting product features. We need to dig deeper. Because the answer to these questions is the key to everything else you’ll do in your marketing. 

Giving Without Expectations

This is the part that makes a lot of marketing and sales folks a little uneasy. After all, there’s projections and sales goals to meet. But this part is incredibly important in marketing today. Once you’ve identified that thing you and only you can give them, you need to create it and give it to them, without expecting them to buy anything.

I know… right? I get it. But hear me out.

Think of the people you trust most in your life. When you need to move a couch or get a ride from the airport, they’re the first people you call. And you trust them because you know they do those things because they care about you, not because they can bank them for future favors or hold them over your head.

If trust is the goal, we need to remove expectations. We absolutely want the customer’s business. But the lifetime value of a customer who trusts you is considerably higher than one we try to guilt into making a purchase.

Be Willing to Date Your Customers

That brings us to the final point. Most people don’t pop the question on a first date. It happens and somehow, sometimes it works. But that’s not the typical way to start a long and healthy relationship.

Most of the time, there’s a dating process. We get to know each other. We surprise each other with gifts. We try to demonstrate that we’re a good partner, and we look for signs that the person we’re dating will be a good partner too. 

Your relationship with your customers is no different. The sales cycle in almost every industry is longer than ever before, and most of it happens before you even know a prospect is a prospect. The smartest thing you can do as a brand is identify every hurdle and pain point your customers will encounter on the way to doing business with you and create content to address it.

Earn their attention, exceed their expectations, and you’ll have their trust.

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