Empathy has become a hot topic in marketing circles over the past couple of years. The increased interest has been largely driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted the personal and professional lives of millions and wreaked havoc on the operations of businesses almost everywhere. Astute marketers quickly recognized that communications with customers and potential buyers would only be effective if they embodied a healthy dose of empathy.
If anything, empathy will become even more essential for effective marketing in 2022. So marketing leaders need to make empathy an important focus of their planning for next year.
Why Empathy Matters
Empathy is generally defined as the ability to understand and vicariously experience the thoughts and feelings of another person. It's the ability to put yourself in the "heart and mind" of someone and "see the world" as that person sees it.
Empathy is essential for effective human communications of all kinds, and it's particularly important in marketing. One of the primary objectives of marketers is to craft messages that will resonate with customers and potential buyers, and empathy is necessary for achieving that goal.
To create messages that are truly empathetic, marketers must perform two sequential tasks:
- First, they must put themselves in the shoes of their target audience(s) and see the world through their eyes. This step is often called perspective-taking.
- And second, marketers must adapt their messages to fit the mental and emotional perspective(s) of their target audience(s).
- People between the ages of 18 and 40 represent just 35% of the UK adult population, but they account for 84% of the UK advertising workforce.
- Less than a third of UK adults have received a college degree, but in the UK advertising industry, ". . . a degree is the minimum requirement for entry level roles."
- Forty-four percent of people working in advertising self-identify as being on the left of the political spectrum vs. only 25% of the mainstream UK population.