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Empathy in Marketing: The Hidden Key To Success

Empty Tunnel
I left public school after the 8th grade because I was tired of being picked on. At the time I was still pretty short and the combination of being quiet and not being the “sporty type” made me an easy target. Why I thought going to private school would help with this problem, I have no idea. But I though it would…

For 9th grade I went to an all guys Jesuit private school. And the taunting got worse. Far be it from me to try and explain why anyone would pick on the kid that knew karate, but they did. Two people found out why you don't, but that's another post.

After enduring two years of heckling and jeers my parents allowed me to go back to public school. And when I did, I decided that no one was going to pick on me ever again. To ensure that, I joined in with a group of kids that accepted me.

That group was not conducive to my education, to say the least.

The Most Powerful Tool In A Marketer's Belt

Empathy. When employed in marketing, it's one of the most powerful things on earth.

It can be subtle in the case of many advertisements on television. Or it can be blatant as a gang member telling a kid how fantastic they are and how wrong their parents are to be telling them what to do.

Empathy.

Do you like being treated as a number, or do you prefer being treated like what you are – a person? Why then would you treat anyone else differently?

The goal of marketing is to make the connection with the right people so that you can then solve their problems with your products and services. To do that, you need empathy.

Without empathy in marketing, you will never make the connection or the sale.

Comments

  1. I could not agree with you more, Robert. The importance of empathy transcends sales, marketing and business. As human beings, we all want to be understood and be able to connect with others. In a marketing (or sales) scenario, that becomes especially important, as why would we give our hard earned money to someone that does not understand our needs, or at least try to do so? This is a very insightful post. Thanks for sharing. Paul

    • Hi Paul thanks for coming and for your comment. This is so important as today our BS detectors are constantly on red alert due to the amount of sales messages we get all the time. People know when someone is trying to sell them and when the sales person really doesn’t care about helping them. Let that not be us.

  2. @Wim @ Sales Sells hi Wim! Thanks for your comment and bringing in the point of view of a sales guy. Greatly appreciated.

    I agree that we’re working with savvy customers these days and the BS meter is hyper sensitive. Frankly I’m happy to see it as I’ve dealt with less than stellar people for years. Here’s hoping many go the way of the dodo.

  3. Hi Robert, I’m a sales guy so empathy is basically what I do for a living. From my experience it’s those who truly care about other’s problems, issues, challenges that will be most successful, whether in marketing or sales. Of course you can fake it, but today’s customers are savvier than ever and their BS-detectors are getting more advanced day by day. Therefore my best advice is to be genuine, be real and truly care about what keeps your customers awake at night.

    I’m new here, but really like what you’re doing man!

    Wim

  4. Hi Robert, I’m a sales guy so empathy is essentially what I do for a living. From my experience it’s those who truly care about other’s problems, issues, challenges that will be most successful, whether in marketing or sales. Of course you can fake it, but today’s customers are savvier than ever and their BS-detectors are getting more advanced they by day. Therefore my best advice is to be genuine, be real and truly care about what keeps your customers awake at night.

    I’m new here, but really like what you’re doing man!

    Wim

  5. gregorylent says:

    @rdempsey energy follows intention. no media can hide this reality. we pick up on the intent behind the ad, or any communication, and that is what we respond to .. not the comment.

    if a marketer, no matter how niche-relevant his/her content, is trying to GET something from me, i know it. and resent it. if that content is trying to GIVE something to me, unconditionally, then i am often interested.

    but at that point, which is truly empathizing with me, my life, time, attention, marketing disappears.

    we don’t have a name yet for this kind of communication, but it recognizes everyone as myself, not as an other, who i am trying to manipulate, no matter how subtly.

    ok, enjoy, thanks for asking

  6. @Patricia kindness can go a long way, and can help get business too. Kindness should never be mistaken for weakness, though in the business world it often is.

  7. Patricia says:

    Sorry to hear about your bullying experiences Rob. My niece got it at a private girls school. She is mixed race and it was mostly racial taunts. Went to public school and totally fitted in!

    I believe if we treat people the way we want to be treated it goes a long way. I know I have got customers from them reading my blog, me answering their questions and treating them kindly. Just got some more confirmation of that today on a post I did.

    I think I am just being me and I am but apparently some of my readers have had some unpleasant experiences in the blogosphere and appreciate it when they are treated kindly!

    Empathy does go a long way and I will do business with people who treat me right too.

    Patricia Perth Australia

  8. @ScottScanlon I’m with you here Scott. There are many instances of marketers going for pure numbers resulting in people being treated as such. With a clear definition of ideal customer, marketers and others inside of a company can focus on understanding the person they can provide the most value to, and treat them as they should be treated. Doesn’t have to be mushy.

  9. @gregorylent interesting comment Gregory. Can you expand on that?

  10. ScottScanlon says:

    Great point. On my podcast this last week I mentioned how story telling creates a sense of empathy within the listener. How a great story can create a shared experience and connects both teller and receiver on an empathetic level.

    On Gregorylent’s point… not sure I agree. If more companies, people, marketers, sales people had empathy they would understand the needs of their customers and prospects. They would also then deliver what is needed and things of greater value.

  11. gregorylent says:

    if you have true empathy, you won’t be a marketer. ironic, but true.

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