Empathy in Content Marketing: How and Why It’s Critical | Clickback

Empathy in Content Marketing: How and Why It’s Critical | Clickback

At the time of writing, the world has been turned on its head due to the COVID-19 crisis. That includes marketing, too – we’ve all had to adapt to a new status quo and find different ways to keep our businesses thriving.

As marketers, emotion is one of our biggest tools. We’re always trying to steer potential customers into taking the actions we want them to.

Writing with empathy is extremely important, especially in today’s world.

First of all, of course, we’re all humans and empathy is a natural thing. From a pure marketing standpoint, though, it’s just as important.

Branding

In the B2C world, companies have been positioning themselves as warm and approachable to consumers forever. This style of branding has gained a lot of traction in the B2B space as well, and continues to do so.

One reason for that is that the professional workforce in general is getting accustomed to brands that come across as more human. Previously, B2B language was often stilted and overly formal, but that’s not as effective for building a rapport with your prospects.

Attract Leads and Happy Customers

Empathy – being able to understand another’s feelings – is a crucial tool for modern marketing, especially in B2B. Understanding your audience’s motivations and challenges gives you a way to speak to those things, and as a result you’ll generate higher-quality leads.

How do you do that? By identifying and understanding your customers via buyer personas.

Identify Your Customers

Of course you know who your target audience is, right? After all, your product or service is designed specifically to solve a problem in a particular niche. The trick is refining that to where you know more about your audience – what drives their purchasing decisions, yes, but also what motivates them as a professional.

Understanding all this is key to creating effective, empathetic content that will resonate with them at a deeper level than “this seems like a good product.” Enter marketing personas.

Gain Deeper Understanding

A marketing persona, or buyer persona, is a profile of one of your archetypal customers. It outlines their professional lives, challenges, roles, decision-making power and all those important factors. It should also include more personal details, such as their concerns and primary motivations.

For example, if your customers are generally driven to show that they’re proactively solving issues, that gives you a valuable hint towards a possible angle for your messaging.

There are a number of ways you can gather this sort of data, but one of the best is also very easy: ask. Take a look at your existing customers and find the ones that best represent your “typical” customer, and ask them if they would mind sharing some information with you.

If you’ve already built a good relationship with them, they’ll probably be very willing to talk to you.

It’s Not About You

Don’t talk about how awesome your product or company is. Let your leads come to that conclusion for themselves. Instead, guide them there by providing content that hits the nail on the head when it comes to their pain points.

Think of it this way: your goal isn’t “get this person to buy my product”, it’s “help this person solve this particular issue they’re having”. Of course, the result is the same – they solve the issue by using your product – but maintaining that mindset will make it much easier to create empathetic marketing that works.

That’s the most important thing – it’s not enough to sound empathetic, you need to be genuinely empathetic. Make it your mission to help people solve the issue you set out to address with your product. The fact that they’re buying your product should be largely secondary. By the time they talk to a sales rep, they should want to buy your solution.

Remember You’re Human – and So Are They

It’s easy to get stuck in “marketing mode” and look at everything that way, but it’s worth also relating to your prospects on a human level. Empathy shouldn’t just be a marketing tool. It’s also a big part of how we relate to each other as people.

This can be as simple as normalizing diversity as part of your marketing content, like Dove does by spotlighting women of all shapes and sizes in their campaigns. That might seem logical for a B2C offering, but there’s just as much diversity in the B2B world.

The key is, once again, authenticity. “Empathy” is sometimes seen as a marketing buzzword, with companies jumping on the bandwagon. Here’s a very current example at the time of writing: how many emails have you gotten from various companies talking about “here’s what we’re doing to support our communities and/or protect our workforce and customers during these challenging times”?

Yes, it’s important, and everyone appreciates companies taking those steps. However, the simple fact that they’re announcing it means it’s being used as a marketing ploy, and reactions very quickly shifted from “that’s awesome, glad to hear it” to “yet another company jumping on the bandwagon”. Those attempts at empathetic marketing fall flat and can backfire when it feels like they’re only doing it because it makes sense from a branding angle.

Consider how saturated your industry’s marketing is with similar messages, and make an effort to be genuine and not bandwagon-y. A little humanity goes a long way.

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