Empathic-based marketing is what makes a business move from one place to another. The desired outcome, a goal, a short-term finish line – are all defined by the decoding and degree of effective communication. If a marketing agency suggests a solution before first truly understanding the problem, tread lightly. Their intentions are not based on the betterment of your business, it is derived from their own motives. As marketers, we must execute an empathic-based approach to the goals and ambitions of clients first. We then analyze the situation by compiling the data and facts, exploring the available resources, and prescribing what we feel will work, creating a holistic solution.
Empathic based marketing – so what is it?
Empathic listening is an excellent skill in both life and business. Trying to understand first before expressing our views and opinions in various situations will aid the solution and outcome. Deciding what is best for a business relating to consulting, marketing, leadership, etc. before first understanding is counterproductive. For example, if marketing contained a universal approach and suggesting a Facebook ad campaign will work for everyone, the approach is defective.
1. Empathically Explore the issues
Marketing revolves around people, and people care. We care for one another, we care for our businesses, family, friends. This fact cancels out the systematic, universal marketing approaches many are unethically pushing. Some marketers have helped to build a negative reputation surrounding an industry where connection and strong relationships should be the primary focus. The first step after hello and thanks for choosing our marketing agency is “tell us what the issue is”. Then continue exploring core issue(s) deeper and deeper. Only then are marketers positioned to offer and execute an effective solution based on emphatic listening. The more understanding we obtain through open ears the better we can formulate an idea, a plan, and a solution. Listen first and advise later.
2. Connection over commodity
Mapping the needs of clients starts with understanding the continent we find ourselves in. What does the business need, what direction do they wish to take? What follows is a deeper dive into the current state of the market, the trends in the industry, current marketing tools and tactics, and what other approaches can become useful. If a construction company starts off with one person and they contact a marketer for promotion, what would be the first thought? Do they have a logo, a website, a social media presence, etc?
These things are important on the surface, but if this one-man operation is gaining more business through word of mouth, do these cosmetic visuals provide an immediate need? Perhaps. The way to better understand is to ask the client what direction they are interested in taking. Is a logo, website, Facebook account top of their priorities? A deeper understanding of what direction they want to take is a road worth traveling. Creating those commodities hold their specific values but what else can we do as marketers to move them from where they are to where they want to be? What connections are they making with their customers? Is there something a marketer can do to amplify and/or echo the mission statement and commitment to connection? Marketing exists to create and explore all available value.
3. Brand over quick business
Quick business is an exchange. Buy this and here is some money. What can we do to open the door for a long-lasting relationship and initial connection? Buy this (start a conversation), oh by the way, here is some money. The latter provides more depth, a connection, and a possible chance for repeat business with intent. Working the brand angle makes you a walking representation of who and what your business is. The more customers are exposed to a brand that focuses on building and sustaining great relationships that always take the time to listen first and practice empathic-based practices.
4. Humanizing over consumerism
Whether your business sells goods or services (or both) it should and must create strong, lasting relationships with customers. Focusing on the bottom line, costs, prices of materials, output quantity and simple transactions depreciates the provided opportunity. We can capitalize on creating connection and even change when we treat marketing and business with an empathic-based marketing approach. Humans tend to act ever more on emotion and not so much on reason or rationalism. Treating customers like humans, showing we care, and committing ourselves to quality in both our products/services and interactions will be what truly separates the common from the excellent.
Empathic-based marketing is how we communicate a message. This message is taken from a business and translated to a consumer in a way that we can understand as like-minded human beings. When a business shows it cares, the right customers take notice at exactly the right time. This is the magic moment that should make every ethical marketer feel like they created the art they set out to make. We must listen to our clients, the market, and the needs of the humans we seek to serve. Suggesting a marketing solution without deeply exploring the issues and concerns is a waste. Ensure your marketing efforts are backed by a strong sense of empathy and push the limits that effective solutions deserve. Empathic-based marketing utilizes time and resources much more effectively than a cure-all solution that nobody benefits from in the long run.
Ronnie Lee Roberts II is a brand and marketing super fan and owner & operator of Roberts Consulting Firm. He writes about marketing, leadership, and business.