How Do You Feel About Empathy?
“Empathy is the ability to identify with and vicariously experience the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of someone else.”
The important word in this definition is “vicariously” experiencing…
To empathize with someone is to go beyond just understanding their situation but to “feel” because you’ve been in their shoes or have an emotional connection to their situation.
As Robert A. Heinlein says in his cult Sci-Fi classic: Stranger in A Strange Land, we “grok“.
What role does empathy play in marketing?
Creating buyer personas will tell us of our customer’s buying habits as well as basic demographics such as age and sex, but a “persona” won’t tell us what makes them feel anxious, what makes them nostalgic or happy.
To understand who your customers are, you need to understand them intuitively, to “grok” them.
Since empathy is a requirement for being human, it also is important if we want to be a human business.
However, there’s a disconnect between personal and business.
Social media hasn’t hasn’t been successful in remedying that.
Like “social”, the word “empathy” doesn’t fit in the business context.
As marketers, we spend a lot of time researching and analyzing data so we have the latest stats and tools.
View the video replay of our Ray2Go Show Here
And here’s the Soundcloud version
How does a company show empathy?
We can start with authentic customer service and not customer “processing”.
B.L. Ochman ran her own company that dealt with customer complaints and she says after dealing with hundreds of challenging cases, all people want is for someone to say:
“I’m sorry that happened to you. Let’s see how we can fix that.”
Jessica Dewell added empathy in the business context means…
“We have to know who are customer is what their world view is then make sure what we’re giving them matches it.”
Can smaller companies “afford” to be more empathetic than large ones, especially public ones who are always obligated to give the stockholders maximum dividends?
Scott Scowcroft thinks so.
“The larger the business the more a systemic problem you have. If you have investors, it’s your business to attain the greatest return on investment possible.”
This leaves little room for empathy as difficult choices have to be made between ROI and customer and employee loyalty.
This is how Damian Farnworth describe’s empathy’s role in marketing in the LEDE podcast:
“You enter the conversation that’s already going on in your customer’s heart.
It’s that emotional tie-in that you want with people, and people make buying decisions based upon emotions.
They use the logic and their rationale to justify those decisions, but they always start with emotions.
Whether it’s pride, a desire to belong, a desire to be loved, a desire for fame or for wealth, etc.
Those are all emotions, and they drive buying decisions.
We have to be able to relate to people and understand their desires or beliefs.
Our job is not to create or change that belief, it’s simply to confirm and validate that belief through the products and content we create.”
The video replay of our post-show Blab:
And here’s the Soundcloud version
Do all companies want to be empathetic?
Our post show Blab was co-chaired by Jess who started off the Blab with the story of her experience with the TSA (Transportation Security Administration)
Some companies and organizations like the Police, army and others mandated to “serve and protect” may look at empathy, at the very least, an impediment to doing their job.
Scott suggested other industries that wouldn’t be prone to empathy would be a Bail Bondsman or a Mafia Hitman.
We were joined in the Blab by David Kutcher who gave of his opinion from a content marketing point of view.
We surprisingly learned that empathy may even affect your website’s bounce rate. 🙂
Would you say your company is empathetic?
A Bit of Empathy Might Be the Best Marketing Strategy
The Telltale 8% Drop in Content Marketing Effectiveness
Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation Ted Talk
Why empathy marketing is your future
The Power of Empathy for More Customer Focused Content Marketing
Making the Leap: Egocentric to Empathy in Content Marketing
Our Ray2Go Show Panel:
Scott Scowcroft – The ScottTreatment: Twitter: @ScottScowcroft
Randy Bowden – Bowden2Bowden marketing & branding virtual consultancy firm:Twitter: @bowden2bowden
Jessica Dewell – JessicaDewell.com A Business Strategist, Consultant, and Speaker: Twitter: @jess_dewell
B.L. Ochman – Google+ Events, Coaching, Digital Strategist: – Twitter: @whatsnext
Ray Hiltz – Social Strategist, Google+ Specialist: rayhiltz.com – Twitter: @rayhiltz
You can view past shows on my YouTube Channel or the audio podcast on Soundcloud.
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If you have a question about social media or how to produce your own Google or Blab show, contact me at: email@example.com.
Thanks for dropping by. I'm the Director of Digital Marketing for Image-24.com.
My background in business includes non-profit (performing arts), restaurants and Promotions.
Having moved on from my own strategic consulting company, I now write about what interests me. So in this blog, you may read about my thoughts on marketing, health issues and business culture.
You can follow me on Twitter @rayhiltz or @image24Call