Marketing and the Impact of Empathy

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No amount of marketing material in the world will make a difference if you don’t make that critical connection that says “I feel your pain.”

It doesn’t matter what vehicle you use to get your marketing message across, certain rules still apply. It is interesting to see how those rules change over time. Why do they change? Because the way we understand consumers changes. Countless dollars are spent to determine what makes a buyer buy. How do their brains work? What motivators and tactics are effective? Do you get more flies with honey or…. well, you get the picture.

The more we learn about what motivates the consumer, the better able we are to get them to consume. There are a lot of factors that make it necessary to revisit consumer behavior frequently. As technology changes, the way we communicate changes. There are different ways of getting the message across. There are different channels and outlets to reach our target buyer. Our goal, however, is always the same. We need the customer to buy.

More and more message means less and less time to get in front of your target. Once you are there, you have to make it count. What does this mean? It means you must give them what they want and do it quickly and concisely. Somehow, you must find that magic mix of just enough to interest them, but not too much to frustrate them.

So what is that mix? Just as importantly, how do you – as a consumer – use that understanding to make your own buying decisions? The answer is one and the same.

Back in the early days of the Dot Com Revolution, there seemed to be a competition among tech companies to see who could out-hubris the other. Web sites were filled with bold chest pounding and buzzword laden hype. In the Internet development industry where I worked, we used to call it the BSH Factor, with H standing for Hype. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide what the BS stands for. It was not unusual in those days to leave a website client meeting and ask your coworkers, “So, did you ever figure out what exactly they DO?”

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It became apparent that these websites were never intended for the end-use consumer. They were intended to create synergistic partnerships to empower the dynamic range of collaborative solutions or whatever string of buzzwords sounded the most cool in that moment. They were all out to impress and sell themselves to one another. It was little surprise when the dot com bubble burst because no one was actually selling anything to anyone. Ever.

Flash forward over twenty years and you’d think we’d learn better. We should know by now that the sales pitch has nothing to do with the provider, but everything to do with the customer. No one cares how synergistic your innovative whatever-a-ma-thingies are if they don’t understand how it helps them.

The current trend of website development – and marketing in general – goes back to Marketing 101. What problem are you trying to solve and how will it make your customer’s life better? They don’t care who you are or how you do it, they just want to know that you can and will. They want their problem to go away.

Remember that you have a limited amount of time with your potential customer. They are busy scrolling or scanning or flipping pages, desperately trying to cram in enough information to make a decision. They aren’t just looking for a product or service, they are looking for a connection.

So, how do we make that connection?

In simplest terms, we make that connection by showing empathy. By putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes, we make it about them. We don’t like our own time wasted, why would we waste theirs? They don’t care how wonderful you are, how many awards you have, or your favorite ice cream. They want to know that you understand, and can help them.

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They want to know it clearly and with as few steps as possible. So, here we go.

Start with the problem.

Nothing says “I understand your need” like stating the obvious.

Provide a solution.

Don’t waste time drawing a roadmap. Assure people that you will get them there.

Emphasize the outcome.

Tell them how great it will be when they get there. To every problem, there is an alternate reality that exists once the problem disappears. That is the destination everyone wants to reach.

Call for action.

You can’t get them there is they don’t get on the bus. Make the sale. Get the email address. Schedule the appointment. Whatever thing it is that you must do to secure the customer, that is what you must anticipate from them. Do not be hesitant to ask that they take that important first step.

If you think that it can’t really be as simple as that, ask yourself how you make decisions. Yes, there will always be those who want or need more information. The beauty of the Internet is that there is always more space on the shelf for your material. If you don’t interest them enough to hang around, however, none of that will matter.

No amount of marketing material in the world will make a difference if you don’t make that critical connection.

It will never be about you until your customer knows it’s about them. That is the impact of empathy.