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3 Tips on How to Be a More Empathic Marketer

By Scott Ingram

Success in marketing or sales depends upon empathy.

In episode 72 of the Inspired Marketing Podcast, Relationship One spoke to Lance Osborne, Director of Demand Generation for the Global Research division of Wiley Publishing, about that very topic.

First empathy and then immersion

During the interview, Osborne emphasized that marketers should first understand their customers intimately and how their brand can help them with the challenges they face before they do any messaging or try to tell the story of their brand. If they don’t, they risk turning their customers off, since that story won’t be relevant nor will it matter much to them. Once marketers properly empathize with their customers, they can then concentrate on making their messaging and story accessible, intriguing, and even entertaining.

According to Osborne, empathy is the first part and immersion comes next. You immerse the customer in the story of how your brand can help. The focus should be on how you’re helping customers deal with their business problems rather than getting them to buy. For example, Osborne’s team at Wiley focuses on getting the work of scientists and researchers out to the world rather than getting people to simply buy books.

Empathy informs content

Osborne tied marketing and sales to good content and described how empathy makes a difference in content. He explained that Wiley has a library full of research that people must register for to be able to access. During the registration process, his team put in a heading asking if anyone signing up would like to have more information from Wiley in the future.

They felt that this was too vague of a way to ask the question. After examining what people signing up were interested in, the team rephrased the question. The question then asked if people wanted more information, more insights, and when they would like to hear from peers in the scientific field. That change doubled the number of sign-ups practically overnight from about two or three thousand to four or five thousand.

How to be a more emphatic marketer

It all starts, Osborne felt, with walking as much in your customer’s shoes as possible. What does the data and their online behavior say? What can you learn from it? Consider how they make a decision and what happens when they do. Are they making a decision when you think they are? Are you promoting when they’re not buying or even considering buying? Most importantly, ask yourself: how can you be of help?

Osborne reflected on an old saying that the best attorneys let the evidence speak for itself. Marketers can simply show how they can be of service rather than them trying to push themselves upon a customer. A strong sense of empathy would steer marketers towards a more sensitive and understanding approach.

For further insights into how empathy informs content, read “Emotion and Empathy: The Storytelling Keys to Marketing.”