In one of many iconic lines from Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 The Godfather, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) rationalizes to his family that his plan for revenge against his father is “not personal. It’s strictly business.” Since then, this quote has been cited invariably as a critical path to professional success.
Although there are many situations when emotion should be left out of business, significant technology changes in communication have transformed the way we interact.
With the average adult spending 5.9 hours consuming digital media daily, the growing shift from personal interaction to digital requires a greater understanding of emotional intelligence and empathy to be effective in connecting with your target audience. Now’s the time to consider making your business personal.
Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio tells us “we are not thinking machines that feel, rather, we are feeling machines that think”. Nearly every decision made has an emotional component.
Empathy is the ability to connect; it gives us the ability to identify and feel the emotions of others. It’s an innate ability. Every person has the capability of being empathetic; whether it’s used or not depends on the individual.
Empathy isn’t about being agreeable, but rather it’s about striving to understand – which allows for deeper, more impactful connections.
Start with “Who”
Before diving into how to practice empathy in marketing, it’s important to identify your target demographic. Who are you talking to?
Humans are complex beings. Gender, age, race, ethnicity, education, profession, occupation, income level, and marital status are all typical examples of demographics. To really peek behind the curtain, understanding your target’s psychological tendencies, interests, values, hobbies, and lifestyle can help. All of these factors will change the best methods to market to your customers.
It’s vital that your target audiences be fairly specific. Don’t try to be everything to everyone.
Evaluate your current customer base for trends and check out your competition. It’s best to start with the audience you’re confident you want to reach and then test and expand.
Once you’ve identified your customer base, “the how” in creating empathy is developed through thoughtful development in the tone of communication. This includes everything from word choice to visual messages, both denotation and connotation. Keep in mind that 3.04 billion people have active social media accounts, and 90% of users use social media to reach out to brands. It’s important to get it right.
However, sometimes it can be difficult to pin down an empathetic tone, and that’s because empathy is developed through multiple channels.
We like to call these channels the Pillars of Empathy. By focusing on these pillars in your branding and communication, you will develop empathy in your tone and action organically. Which in turn means building a loyal customer base and growth potential for your business.