5 Lists to Create Empathy in Your Marketing

by Joe Fontenot

5 Lists to Create Empathy in Your Marketing

If you want to survive the long run, you need to position your brand as indispensable.

But how do you actually do that?

Most of it comes down to the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy is when you understand, intellectually, what your customer is experiencing. They need a widget, and you sell widgets. If the economy is booming and competition is low, then that’s really all you need.

But for the rest of us, that’s not enough.

The rest of us need to focus on empathy. Empathy is when you feel what your customers’ feel. If they feel frustration, then you feel frustration. If they feel elation, then you feel elation.

When you empathize with your customers, they begin to understand you as one of them.

The good news is it’s not hard to get started. Begin by making the 5 lists below. Once you apply the answers, your marketing will get right to the heart of what your customers are looking for.

1. List their risks

If they don’t buy, what will they miss? And if they do buy, what could go wrong?

When you understand the risk your customer is taking, you’re no longer selling a product or service, you’re selling risk-reduction.

How can you take the risk out of their purchase? Or, how you can take another risk out of their life with your purchase?

Make a list: Shoot for 10 ways your product eliminates your customer’s risk.

2. List their benefits

This can be the obvious (or not-so-obvious) value that your company provide. For instance, you don’t sell toasters, you sell a reliable and quick breakfast.

Nobody actually wants your product. They want its results.

While the first list focused on reducing the negative. this one focuses on adding the positive. What positive results will your product or service deliver?

Make a list: How does your product make your customers’ life better?

3. List their alternatives

If there wasn’t competition before the internet, there’s no doubt that it’s here now. Whether it’s price-shopping or brick-and-mortar vs. online: you have competition.

It can be depressing to think about all the ways your competition is doing the exact same thing you are (and even better in some cases).

But don’t do that.

This third list isn’t about what is the same. It’s about what’s different. By understanding what your competition is offering you can begin to focus on what makes you different.

Make a list: What little (or big) differences exist between you and your competition?

Pro Tip: Use what you find here as talking points for differentiating yourself.

4. List their distractions

This is perhaps the most practical of the five lists.

Even the best, star-customer gets busy and forgets. I started a Kindle publishing training course many moons ago, and every Sunday I get an email telling me to come back. It’s not annoying. I want to finish the course. I’m just busy. I actually like that weekly email, because it helps me to not forget.

Think about your ideal customer for a moment and list the distractions they have in their life. For many businesses, these lists will look similar. How can you position your product in a way that jumps around these distractions?

Make a list: What normal parts of life are distracting your customers from buying your good work?

5. List their big wins in life

This last one is the most overlooked. What you’re doing here is tapping into something much greater than your company or product. You’re tapping into their aspirations.

Who does your customer want to become? They might not even know the answers to this themselves. But when you think about it, it’s not too hard to figure out.

A mom who works outside of the home wants to be seen as both a professional and a good parent. An executive needs to be seen as a leader who makes wise decisions. Who is your customer? What–generally speaking–does a big win look like?

Next, how does your product or service help them move down that path?

Make a list: What does a big win look like in your customers life? There may be only one or two lines on this list. The important thing is to understand how you fit into the larger story of their life.

The Value of Empathy Marketing

Empathy marketing is when you show your customers that you feel what they feel. It’s not a trick. You have to actually do the work of understanding and feeling (that’s what the five lists are about).

But when you do, you position yourself apart from your competition. You position yourself as a trusted adviser.

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