empathy in marketing

5 Ways to Show Empathy in Your Marketing Right Now

Empathy in marketing isn’t new or rocket science– in the fictional 1950s, Man Men’s Don Draper was infamous for the way he’d frame a product’s features around fulfilling human needs.

The world is hurting. Everybody has been impacted in some way by the pandemic. What we need now is empathy and, well, a good dose of kindness. Adweek agrees that brands using their platforms to make consumers feel seen, heard, and comforted, are the absolute legends of brand marketing. Empathy in marketing isn’t new or rocket science– in the fictional 1950s, Man Men’s Don Draper was infamous for the way he’d frame a product’s features around fulfilling human needs. As mythical as Don may be, creating empathy with your consumers is paramount to how they will perceive, and buy from, your brand.

by Linda Vetter

These days the trick we have up our sleeves is data. We know more about our consumers. So shouldn’t we already be better at showing empathy?

People do not want to be sold to. They want to feel safe. They want to feel heard. They want to feel some sense of normalcy. – Pat Timmons, Adweek

  • Stop selling. The best way to sell products? Stop selling them. What? Have we lost it? Well, yes, but mostly no. The key to long, deep, and authentic relationships with your consumers is to show you have a heart—to be vulnerable. It’s no secret that in the age of social media, people all want to be acknowledged. We’re pack animals and want to know that we’re not the only ones who feel this way. Selling to your consumers takes place deep in the feels. Move away from transactional, price-led promotions and use your data to engage with individuals on a personal level.


  • Market to individuals, not groups. Your customers are unique individuals, even if they fall into the same generation or age bracket. With unique problems, challenges, and desires. Do you like the same colors, food, and brands as your friends? Probably not. Consumers respond differently to specific images, colors, and words. How can you ensure that you’re crafting empathetic marketing pieces for all of your consumers?


  • Never skip the research. Empathy is defined as putting yourself in another person’s shoes, so it is imperative not to make educated guesses. Data enables us to move away from ‘guesstimations’; yet, marketers will still create a campaign when they aren’t 100% sure what will resonate best. Performing in-depth research will lead to broader empathetic insights that you can apply to your marketing strategy.


  • Spend more time listening and watching. Though we hate to admit it, most of us do more talking than listening. Brands have an opportunity through social media, website interactions, and sales feedback to listen to what their customers are saying and what they care about. Understanding your past and current consumers will harden your strategy to acquire new consumers and help you keep your existing base happy, engaged, heard, and seen!


  • Use an Earned Data approach. We’d be missing a trick if we didn’t mention Earned Data. Not familiar with Earned Data? You might have heard of its cousins first-party or zero-party data – this is data collected directly from the consumer, with no third or second party involvement. Earned Data takes first-party data a step further – it’s data that is always given with consent and through a transparent, mutually beneficial value exchange. By offering consumers more transparency in applying their personal information, you can build trust and craft campaigns built around those individuals’ needs far more effectively.

Kindness is Catching

Understanding consumers’ wants, needs, annoyances, and challenges will help set your marketing campaigns apart from other brands. Creating a connection from the brand to the consumer through empathy is an authentic recipe for marketing success. So ask yourself, “are you currently using data to show more heart in your marketing efforts?”

Linda Vetter is SVP of Marketing at 3radical.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.

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