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Why Your Marketing Strategy Should Involve Making Your Customers Cry

When Dove released their Real Beauty Sketches video, it quickly became the most-watched ad ever. Today, almost three years later, it stands with over 66 million views. The concept was simple, but the results were powerful. I don’t know anyone who has watched it without at least getting a little teary-eyed.

Empathetic marketing isn’t a new concept; yet, so many businesses and individuals seem to despise and ignore the idea. We live in a world where empathy feels nonexistent a lot of the time. We are so caught up in our lives, our pain, and our joys that we simply don’t care to acknowledge anyone else’s. It’s like we forget what it means to be human. To connect with others. To put yourself in their position.

Understanding Empathetic Marketing

Empathy, not to be confused with sympathy, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Empathy is apparent when fans are cheering at a sports game, when a crowd of people sing along at a concert, and when an audience laughs, cries and applauds at the end of a play or movie. So why is it so often missing from marketing?

The funny thing is that this is what content marketing is all about – understanding the buyer’s journey and their pain points. We go on and on about personas and how to properly market to customers, yet, a lot of the time, we instinctively leave the emotion out of it.

Our goal as marketers is often the bottom line; but I argue that it should instead be to provide people with products that ultimately improve their lives. In order to do this, we must truly be willing to dive into the challenges that our customers face.

“Just feeling customers’ pain isn’t enough. Too many entrepreneurs get this far only to slap a quick fix on an existing problem, masking the issue but never getting to its root. Real empathy requires going beyond the Band-Aid solution and investing in an actual cure.” (Fast Company)

Emotional marketing, however, is something that we experience everyday. “It’s a message that builds your ego. It makes you feel smarter, bolder, more sophisticated, or just about any other emotion that is fundamental to your self-esteem.” (602 Communications)

It’s the complete opposite of empathy. It’s telling someone that if they buy your product they will be rich or beautiful or something else. It’s saying you’re less of a person without this product. It’s a complete lie, and a joke.

catch22 empathy marketing

It’s All About Trust

After conducting a survey in 2004, Dove discovered that only 2 percent of the women interviewed considered themselves beautiful. From this information, Dove was able to get a deep understanding of their customer’s pain points.

Dove realized that a lot of people don’t see themselves as they truly are. And unfortunately, many of us see ourselves as less than we are. Dove could have taken this information and launched another typical beauty campaign where everyone looks amazing and added a ton of inspirational quotes and uplifting music, but it never would have had the same impact. By stripping down the “glamour,” and not focusing on selling a product, they created an honest conversation about self image that in return, helped build customer loyalty.

Why You Should Care

Pulling off a successful empathetic marketing campaign may take more time and research, but often the return is much greater. Sometimes it may require you to not only listen to what your customers are saying, but to be more intuitive to their reactions and thought process.

“I listen with what psychologists call “the third ear,” a trained lens that helps me see beyond what people say and toward a deeper empathic understanding of their emotional needs — the hidden meaning behind their conscious thoughts,” explains Mark Ingwer.

“[…] Solving business problems and generating insights is more about connecting the dots. Oftentimes, the answer is found when we widen the scope. We can learn about consumer needs by peering inside the dynamics of human relationships. We can learn by observing the psychological underpinnings of how and why people use products and services. We can learn by listening to others through an empathic understanding of their emotional lives.”

What You Can Do

The first, and most important step you can take to begin planning your next empathetic marketing campaign is to make sure you fully understand who your customers are, how they live their lives and why they make the decisions they make. From there, you should start to have a good understanding of their challenges.

Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts about empathetic marketing? Let me know in the comments.


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Posted by Ariel Valley

Web designer, writer, social media lover and inbound marketer at Catch22 Marketing. Also known as a professional coffee taster, shoe enthusiast and film buff. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @ariel_valley.

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