Guest post by Brooke Cade.
Social media has changed the way we interact with each other. Not only on a personal level, but also of course in business. Brands know they can’t ignore these platforms (which is why 95% of B2B marketers have created corporate social media accounts) and the successful companies have figured out a way to effectively engage and build strong relationships with their customers. One key to sound business use of social media is empathy.
In the marketing realm, there’s a lot of talk about empathy. But do you know how to appropriately use it in a business context, and more importantly, what are you doing to apply it to your marketing strategy? Empathy is defined as the act of putting yourself in another person’s thoughts, feelings, personality, and circumstances to provide them with not only better service, but to foster long-term relationships as well.
One aspect that can get overlooked, especially on the digital platforms, is the importance of listening to your customers. A negative review or comment can get us jumping down another person’s throat, but have you stopped to acknowledge their review and see what you can do to rectify the situation? Successful brands are utilizing these situations to better market their brand, but surprisingly, many companies are not. By ignoring your customers, even online, you not only turn them off from your brand, but you risk losing other potential customers.
How can you use empathy to connect with customers online (and off)?
First, take time to understand your customers. Through learning about their hopes and dreams, fears and concerns, you can build their trust and gain valuable insights on what you can do to serve them better. Talk to your customers, collect feedback, and develop strategies to better identify with them to meet their needs and demands.
As you begin to know your target audience better, you can start to build a campaign around empathy. Pull in your team, along with managers and stakeholders, to brainstorm and throw out as many ideas as possible. During the brainstorm session, use an empathy map to look at the four aspects of the customer experience: thinking, feeling, doing, and seeing.
In each section, consider your customer’s perspective and ask yourself the following questions:
- • Thinking: Ask yourself, how does the customer perceive themselves? The product? What are their dreams and fears? When you are clear on how your customer sees the world around them, you can better anticipate their needs and how your product or service can benefit them.
- • Seeing: How do your customers view their community? What is missing from the world around them? When you understand the world from your customers perspective, their values, you can build trust and connect on a deeper level.
- • Doing: What are they doing to change their lives? What are their daily habits? How does your product or service help them reach their goals? If you know the answer to these questions, you can better identify your customers needs and how you can help them find a solution.
- • Feeling: How do your customers feel after using your product? How do they express their feelings? Customers base a lot of their decisions on how a product makes them feel about themselves and the world around them. Are you connecting with them on an emotional level?
How can you apply this in your marketing strategy?
Let’s take a look at Extra Space Storage. In their recent video campaign, 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Having a Baby, they were able to use empathy to connect on a personal level with first time parents. (Though this is a consumer marketing example, the principles apply equally well to B2B marketing.)
By taking time to identify their customers’—both current and future—hopes and fears (thinking), the company able to reach people on an emotional level (feeling), and make the connection that some memories will want to be saved and past down. In this campaign, they built a connection with their customers that went deeper than just the product or service.
What can you do to apply empathy in your next campaign or email outreach? As you utilize the empathy map exercise and brainstorm with your team, possibly a few times, you will gain deeper insights into your customers and the way you can provide them with better service.
At the end of the day, what it really comes down to is: are your customers feeling like they’ve been heard? The way you can answer that question, and show your customers that you’ve heard and care about them is with empathy.
About the Author: Brooke Cade is a freelance writer with InMoment.com. When she is not writing, Brooke is committed to learning more about helping businesses and sales professionals improve their customer experience.