The Most Important Word for Marketing

Let’s get to it. EMPATHY is the most important word for marketing. You got to have it – it is not a slogan.

Empathy is ‘the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.“ If you had this knowledge of your target audience, don’t you think it would be so much easier to define your product/service, story, position, and message for your potential customers?

I think my recent tweet really captures it …

Many companies are spending substantial time, effort, and budget trying to figure out how to market and sell to their customers. If they take a decent proportion of resources and dedicated it to understanding their customer, having real empathy, they will likely see greater success in their business objectives.

But empathy marketing does not stop there. Last week I did a story, Brand – What is Your Story?“” Basically, I was suggesting that having a compelling brand story allowed your market segment to have a good idea of your brand and that stories are what connects people to one and other. It is important for brands have a humanized side to them so it makes it easier for this customer-brand connection to happen as opposed to attempting to get the target audience to bond with a corporation. This point is reinforced with one of my tweets from earlier today …

Thus, there are two sides of empathy marketing. The brand’s understanding of the target market and the potential customers understanding of the brand. Let’s look at this in a Venn Diagram for a second …

If brands understand their market and potential customers can relate to brands, the intersection of the empathy scenarios are connections and relationships between the two as shown above. This means that brands must invest in efforts to enlighten them with regards to the target segment and they must communicate stories and messages that allow the market to better understand the brand, it’s value and benefits.

And here is where social media comes in. Use social media to build empathy of your target market. Use social media so that potential customers have empathy of your brand. Social media is a powerful tool for the intersection of the two, but you have to work at it over time. Think about the concepts I have defined in the “LCR Mentality” – Listen first; then engage in Conversations and build Relationships over time. This is the way for you to best acquire empathy of your market. If you want your potential customers to gain empathy for your brand, you must provide them with content (your story). Yes relationships are bi-directional, but the onus is on you, the brand, to “make it happen.” You need to drive the connections and relationships at both ends – your understanding of the target audience and their knowledge and interest of your brand. This should be a key business objective and integrated social media strategy and execution is the way to “make it happen.”

Make It Happen! (as I always say)
Social Steve



Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

16 responses to “The Most Important Word for Marketing

  1. It’s all about relationship. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc just tools that to connect one human with another. But still, we need to understand them.

    Social media are not about technology, it is about human relationship. And we need to build our own social circle rather than general circle to help our companies to do marketing.

  2. Hi Steve, Good piece. Thanks for sharing. It was my empathic strengths that led me into marketing to begin with. Sometimes we lose sight…

  3. Hi, Steve. I think you’ve hit it with the word “empathy.” I definitely agree that social media is a great way to learn about customers and, of course, connect with them. As you know, I’m a big believer in finding out what customers want from their social experience and making a social offer that helps them.

    I have to put in a plug here, though. There is a group in large organizations who is well practiced at learning about customers, empathizing with them, and building for them: the User Experience/UI team. UX folks are trained in user-centered design: understanding what users want and need, and designing systems that work well for the business and for the users. As I blogged about (, I think a lot of marketing teams could improve their social media strategies simply by bringing UX into the fold, to start learning how to better empathize with customers, while they build those relationships through social media.

  4. I love your golden words: Listen first; then engage in Conversations and build Relationships over time. That is very important for every business man to understand and make it happen! Like you said Steve, lol!

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more. If you don’t understand the demographics of your target market, you won’t be successful. Marketing to an ever-expanding diverse multi-cultural market necessitates researching and understanding what prospects need and what motivates them to purchase, and then adapting your message accordingly.

  6. And of course, the circles are not static; their intersection varies over time. In your example here, it means that successful marketing (engagement, positioning, all of that) expands that area of overlap and creates more opportunities for connection.

    P.S. The good old Venn Diagram! (File under “Things We Learned In School That Help Us More Often Than We Admit.”)

  7. Pingback: The power of audience trumps the power of your marketing -

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