5 Tips for Empathetic Content Marketing

Sylvia LeRahl


June 1, 2018 (Updated: January 23, 2024)


Grasping empathetic content marketing is vital to successfully promoting your business nowadays. Empathy is defined as being able to share and understand the feelings of another. Essentially, it refers to the idea of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. People have long required their leaders to display some degree of empathy to ensure they would make decisions for the greater good. Now, they are demanding the same of businesses big and small.

Empathy in marketing must be genuine. Companies must create content that demonstrates their values and proves to customers they care about them. With the rise of social media, customers have become accustomed to highly personalized interactions with businesses.

Consumers expect one-on-one engagement and promotion of products and services that meet their unique needs. It’s not enough to have clever promotions for useful offerings. You have to prove you are worthy of a conversion. To snag repeat customers, you have to keep proving your value. Empathetic content marketing can help you show your true character and connect personally with customers. Learn tips for demonstrating empathy in content marketing:

Identify Your Customer

Image via Flickr by CarbonNYC [in SF]

Before you can understand a person’s situation, you need to know who he or she is. With any marketing campaign, you must identify your target audience. The process presumably began when you began planning your business. At that time, you identified a problem for this niche, and you attempted to solve it with your product or service. Now, you must relate to your potential customers. The first step is understanding what makes them tick and what drives them to need your product or service.

This all might seem obvious, but it’s radically different from how marketers previously approached content and promotion. Business owners used to ask about how to use advertising to increase sales. Now, marketing experts advise considering what kinds of content would provide more value to your consumers and thus attract them to your business. That journey begins with knowing your potential customer base inside and out.

Develop Marketing Personas

Because you’re expected to get personal with potential customers and really engage them, you should devise marketing personas. Based on your research of the niche group for which your product or service will be most valuable, you can develop specific sketches of individual customers. Talk to consumers about their likes and dislikes, great motivators in their lives, and challenges they face. Record details about the kinds of individuals you may be targeting.

For instance, if your target customer is a new mom, you might identify that she is living on little sleep, feels overwhelming love and concern for her baby, and is probably experiencing stress during this adjustment. More specifically, she probably told you that she needs solutions to help her streamline chores, keep baby healthy and happy, and maintain her own independence and life outside of motherhood.

Knowing this, you can create content that might offer tips on getting a newborn to sleep through the night. Or maybe you could share heartwarming videos of mothers and children bonding over your product. Knowing the people who are likely to enjoy what you are selling can help you pinpoint topics to cover and ways to best connect with your audience.

Address Problems

Life is hard, and people are looking for solutions to the many challenges they experience. Successful companies recognize the struggles of potential customers, and they respond. “The secret to being effective and efficient with the marketing that we do starts with this understanding that we are real people, we’re trying to market to real people, and the best way to do that is actually to be helpful,” says Michael Brenner, CEO of MarketingInsiderGroup.com in an interview on his site.

In your blogs and videos, you should be pointing out the problems your target audience face as well as providing them with solutions. Any description of what they might be feeling or going through can boost your message. Ultimately, marketing campaigns have to resonate with people. They must see for themselves that you are genuine and grasp their truth.

Get Over Yourself

Empathetic content marketing is all about the consumer. It takes the onus off marketers to sell, sell, sell. Instead, it’s about creating connections with current and potential customers. “If you’re defending the fact that your brand is empathetic, that’s a pretty good sign you’re not,” writes Kevin McKeon, chief creative officer at Olson in an article for AdAge. “Like generosity or caring, empathy should never be about you.”

This is the shift in thinking that companies must undertake. Instead of concerning yourself with your problems — needing more sales, wanting more business — you have to consider the needs of your customers first. What will provide value to them? What will help them solve their problems? The hope then, of course, is that your good deeds will be rewarded with sales.

Be Human

Remind yourself that you are a real person with problems, too. Therefore, you can relate to your customer base and provide content relevant to their lives. Lots of people have suggested empathy in marketing is a buzzword or a passing trend. But empathy is really just part of human nature. It is how people relate to one another. The key for companies is to have the people who work for them reach out to potential customers and provide authentic experiences and content that prove you know about their lives.

The Dove campaign that tried to display the beauty of a diverse group of women of all shapes and sizes after learning only a small percentage of women believe they are beautiful is a good example of this. Delta recognizing the inconvenience of having numerous passengers stuck on the runway and offering free pizza to all is another way to demonstrate empathy. Frankly, common sense and a little humanity go a long way.

Indeed, empathy won’t ever go out of style in marketing or leadership — or your own personal relationships. It’s a necessity to survive alongside others. Moreover, empathy allows us to identify problems and seek solutions together. People share similar feelings and move one another. If you can connect with others on that personal level and demonstrate you genuinely care about them, you could win their heart, and thus their business.

Author Image - Sylvia LeRahl
Sylvia LeRahl

CopyPress writer

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