Is Empathy in Your Marketing Toolkit?

a back and white photo with a supportive hand reaching out

I was brought in as an expert by another marketing consultant. He was working with an international company, and one of their tried-and-true lead gen programs was not doing the job anymore. 

We met with the corporate marketing people, and they explained the program. Then we got on a Zoom call with the salespeople, and they laid out their experience. The consultant and I put our heads together, and we agreed. 

“This should be working.” 

We needed more information.

We did an in-depth assessment and survey, and — lo and behold — we uncovered a critical issue. Prospects viewed the company as “cold” and “unfeeling” about current events. 

Because the company has international offices and does business across different cultures, the marketing department had intentionally avoided hot-button topics in social media, newsletters, advertising, and other corporate communications. 

Although I understood their position, I felt they were missing a huge marketing advantage — and losing future customers who base their buying cues on how they *feel* about a company.

So the question is… In today’s complicated world, how can businesses include empathetic messaging in their communications?

I believe it starts with listening first, no matter where in the world your business is located. 

And then, to add empathy to your marketing toolkit, try these strategies:

  • Analyze your default messaging. 
  • Check all programmed posts including evergreen content. Is there tone-deaf messaging in your older material?
  • Listen to what customers and prospects are talking about. 
  • Document exactly how they describe what they feel.
  • Consider using the words they use, even if you have to limit what you can say. 
  • Evaluate your comfort zone and legal limitations. See if there’s room here to expand. 
  • Avoid anything sales-y or manipulative when showing empathy. 
  • Be truthful and ethical.
  • Be consistent in tone across your channels with your approach, images, and messaging. Alignment is crucial, as inconsistency will come across as insincere.
  • Adjust vocabulary more often than usual. 
  • Review communications in light of legal exposure.

A final tip for us all. 

  • Take a look at what your friends and competitors are doing, marketing-wise. Not everything they do will be clever, ethical, or helpful. However, some of it may be fresh, strategic, and brilliant. Are others in your circle showing empathy in their messaging? Don’t copy your competitors, but do learn and adapt. 

Incorporating empathy into your marketing communications will be important as today’s teens and young adults grow up and become our customers. Make time now to look at your sales and marketing toolkit to see where you can “warm up” your company as you expand your comfort zone. 

Your buyers are changing. You should, too.

Read more from Sandy here.

Sandy Hubbard is Marketing Strategist for the Printing Industry. She works with owners and sales-marketing leaders to finely tune marketing programs in today’s ultra-competitive environment.

Sandy is also co-host of #PrintChat, a weekly online conversation and vibrant community on LinkedIn. She has contributed to Print Media Centr’s newsletter since 2011.



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