Building Empathy in a Digital World

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Building Empathy in a Digital World

Is building empathy with your customers something that you strive for in your digital marketing? If not, you should be. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feeling of another. So why should you be building empathetic marketing campaigns? Professional marketers know that retailers who let their customers know they are listening, and that they understand what those customers want, are often very successful.

empathyFor decades, the advertising industry has created campaigns for products based on the advantages of using Product XYZ. It’s refreshing, it cleans better, it covers better, it tastes better…and so on. Focusing on the positive attributes of products is a good thing, because customers and potential customers do need to know about the great things a product can do. However, studies have shown that finding out what those customers feel, want and need from a product and then demonstrating to them that purchasing that product will fulfill those feelings, wants and needs is as effective, and possibly more effective, than merely outlining the positive attributes of a product.

How can you use empathy in your marketing?

It’s not about the specific products, but about the feelings and benefits they will get by using your brand of paint and the appropriate tools. Sometimes using empathy in your marketing might not even involve products, but a certain feeling or experience they will get by shopping at your store. A hardware store in New York City began putting pictogram puzzles on their front window over a decade ago and has since become quite famous in that area because of those puzzles. People stop in just to see the puzzles, school teachers take copies of them to give to their students, and customers in general have a warm and fuzzy feeling about the store because they are entertained and amused every week by the puzzles.

Another good example of empathetic marketing is a campaign created by Home Depot to encourage sales of vegetable plants and related supplies such as soil and gardening tools. The campaign depicts a lovely green salad with other assorted vegetables added in, and lists how many salad meals Americans eat each week, how many people gardened last year, and that just 1 square foot of soil can grow up to 6 lbs. of fresh food each year. The refreshing green-themed graphic inspires customers to think about growing their own food with Home Depot products.

beach_empathy-adPaint & decorating dealers could use empathy in digital marketing by creating an graphic or other digital media that shows a beautiful beach with colorful chairs, which is where customers will feel they are when they use your products to transform a room into a warm, welcoming sanctuary. A graphic depicting happy, smiling children playing in a brightly painted room with several DIY murals, or possibly a brightly painted game table might inspire parents to use your products to create a beautiful room where their own children could happily play.

Using empathy in your digital marketing will take a bit of thought and planning, but can pay off in a big way once implemented. Instead of just listing characteristics of a product, or saying that it works better than the competition, create scenarios that cause your customers to think about your store and products in a positive way.  Let them know how you, as a retailer, can help them to achieve the things they want out of life – happy kids, a healthier lifestyle, or a beautiful space to relax in.