Communication is a two-way road. It's a path that's not only about talking but also about active listening. And without empathy, it could be hard to connect with what others truly feel or need.
The critical question is: How do you connect to others? Regardless of what you do, imagine yourself in another's shoes will help you connect with all types of people across the globe.
Now more than ever, businesses are expected to not only exist to make a profit but make a positive impact on their customers' lives, thus adding value to the wider world we live in. So this BHM, let's work on our empathetic communication to expand our personal boundaries and increase cultural intelligence in our professions.
5 Ways to Apply Customer Empathy to Your Marketing and Communications
Community and connections is an innate part of being human. In our globalised world, digitalisation has aided us to connect like never before and has become a key part of marketing - it's about relationships and meaningful connections with audiences. Whether you are an emerging business or large corporation, we've outlined 5 ways empathy can be part of your marketing and communications.
1. Start with the bird-in-hand: Consider people before profit
More than what people want, what is it that they need?
Generating a profit is an essential part of any business. However, so is the purpose of giving the customers value - providing them with products and services for the better. Do customers truly need what you are trying to sell? Get into the customer's shoes and wonder how a particular product could help fulfil their needs, as well as those around them.
A people-first approach extends to all stakeholders. What you represent outwardly should also reflect the operations internally. Creating internal cultures built on empathy, respect and valuing all types of people will effectively reflect in all business outputs such as communications rather than be considered or simply used as a marketing tool.
2. Adapt social listening to understand your customer
How do you market to people you don't know? Listen to understand their needs and motivation.
To truly understand the customer's motivation to buy your product or service, listen to what your customers have to say. Factoring their feedback will help you better tailor your communications to align with what your consumers want and also positively position your business as one that listens and values the voice of their community.
Ways to tap into customer sentiment include using a Social Listening tool that helps you stay abreast of key topics and conversations. Create a sense of community by creating a forum for dialogue where people can give feedback, get involved in the communities, gauge their needs. Work with people on a grass root level, e.g. micro-influencers. Finally, attempt to get closer to your customers by going beyond automated emails and monotonous advertisements.
3. Drive meaningful conversations
Create forums and campaigns where valuable dialogue can take place and people can feel understood and related to.
It's important to provide a safe, secure and expressive platform for your community. That being said, empathetic communication between your brand and consumers is only possible if you make them feel comfortable. Therefore, always attempt to understand the customer's needs rather than pressuring them.
A way to win at authentic material that lands, is to aim to drive connections and conversations vs creating campaigns for the sake of it. The goal is to empower people to learn about the brand and understand themselves better. Hosting live sessions online is a great way to reach out to many communities at once, and it will also help you find commonalities in diversity.
4. Focus on helping and building all communities equally
All communities deserve to have their voices heard.
There's nothing better than a helping hand. Remember that while there are differences between communities, there are similarities too. Focus on the issues of each community in your target audience - connect their struggles to your offerings. Genuine empathy stems from equity and giving everybody an equal chance to be heard and fulfil their needs.
5. Use influencer marketing and real-life stories to bridge the gap
Influencers are natural experts in connecting to real people on a human level.
Influencers are a vital element in building empathy between a brand and its audience. They help messages connect deeper due to their existing trust and relationship with a brands target audience. As often the leaders of a community, they can act or speak on their audiences' behalf and interpret messages from a brand to the community. In addition, their relatable and likeable nature helps to humanise brands and messages, which is key to landing with audiences. The benefit of this results in increased trust, feeling understood and ultimately a better relationship.
Empathetic communications: A recap
The essence of empathetic communication lies in being ready to listen. To truly understand another, it's necessary to pay attention. Get into another's shoes to understand their frame of mind, personally and professionally.
Put people over profit by aligning the customer's needs with your offerings. Begin with the inside out, making sure you and your entire team are on the same wavelength of empathy. Understand the customer's motivations using digital conversations that empower two-way communication rather than campaigning and direct advertising.
And finally, remember that empathy is not selective. Give all communities an equal chance to be heard.