The Power of Empathy In Marketing

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By Ashley Previte

Empathy. It’s one of those words that pretty much always elicits an eye roll. And I get it—it sounds a little hippy dippy. Fine. But hear me out.

When it comes to marketing—especially to writing successful copy—if you’re not hitting the exact emotional nerve, you’re missing the mark. Simple as that.

Yep. An emotional nerve. Take that in for a sec, and let it marinate because this is where so many businesses go wrong. In an effort to sound “professional,” companies tend toward writing copy that’s void of all emotion, creating messages that are sterile. And tired.

It pains my exuberant copywriter soul.

I don’t care if you’re running a high-net-worth financial advisory firm, a startup pizza shop, or an established law practice. Human emotion is what is going to connect you to your target audience. Emotion inspires action. And that action is buying your product or services.

Quick second for a hard (but obvious) truth: It’s noisy out there on our phones and screens. And everyone’s time is limited. Until you cut to the marrow of how your business is going to help your audience, they’re not going to hear a word you say—or write.

Just look around at the most successful brands. They aren’t selling a product. They’re selling a feeling.

Think of those epic summer parties that can only manifest themselves if you’re wearing salmon colored jeans from Old Navy. Or that baby Clydesdale that will one day grow up to be as powerful and majestic as you are when you’re drinking a frosty Budweiser.

It’s all about the heartstrings, people.

And this is where empathy comes into play. You cannot even find those heartstrings without first delving into and understanding the needs, wants, and tension points of your audience. You have to put yourself in their shoes—or their flip flops, work boots, high heels or wingtips. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is motivated by their own feelings and internal narrative.

There is great power in understanding this. In life—and in marketing. And learning to dig a little deeper to not only identify, but to truly understand others’ emotions, will do two incredible things for you.

  1. It will inform your brand and guide your messaging strategy.

    This is huge. The word empathy has the word “path” right there inside it. And it is just that. It’s a path to your audience—to meet them exactly where they are, with an informed strategic message that will inspire action.

  2. It will bring purpose to your work.

    It’s easy to get wrapped up in making the next sale, increasing market share, and raising your bottom line. To be fair, this is business and that is kind of the goal. But it can also be pretty impactful to scrape all of that away for a bit and focus on the real live people you originally made your product for or who need your services.

    Think about who those people are, what their problems and needs feel like, and how exactly your product or service will help them in their life. It’s a great reminder that your work has meaning beyond the almighty dollar, while helping those dollars keep rollin’ on in.

So if you thought empathy was just a crunchy buzz word best spoken in second grade classrooms, yoga studios, and spiritual enlightenment workshops, think again.

There is awesome power in harnessing empathy in business. I think you’ll find that identifying and understanding your audience’s feelings will absolutely boost your marketing ROI and skyrocket your revenue.

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Ashley is an award-winning copywriter and content expert with more than a decade of proven results for national and local clients. From brainstorming high-end conceptual content to styling sentences that engage and convert, she’s got a knack for shattering the status quo. When she’s not in full-on marketing mode as TRAINOR's Director of Content, she’s hanging out with her elderly pugs and discussing the plausibility of unicorns with her 7-year-old daughter.