How to Master Empathy in Content Marketing

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, and before you even finished explaining your problem, they began spitting off solutions? They were so eager to shout their solution at you that they failed to listen and actually understand your pain. They failed to show empathy. Now ask yourself if you’ve ever done this in your marketing.

Our consumers don’t want to see billions of companies that all solve different issues; they want to know that their pain is understood and their concerns are heard. Put your “consumer” hat on and think about it: when we feel empathy from a brand, we feel much more connected to them, and we actually trust them more. Your audience needs to feel empathy or they’ll never listen to the solution.

Your audience needs to feel empathy or they’ll never listen to the solution.

Content marketing without empathy is essentially just shouting noise at your audience. It’s absolutely essential to making deep connections with customers, and we’ll never get our message across without it.

It’s not easy to master empathy in your content, but here’s how to get started: 

Know your audience. This doesn’t just mean defining your demographic. It means diving deep into who your audience is and what they’re about. Create segmented personas for your audience, where you define their ages, interests, occupations, family situations, education, and everything else that defines them. Even give them names in order to make them more personal, or take the Jeff Bezos route and leave an open seat in every meeting “for the customer.” Write your content with this person in mind. If you can nail this down, you’ve nailed down empathy in your content.

Comfort them. We all have a desire for someone to tell us it’s all going to be okay, and we get comfort from knowing we’re not the only one facing a struggle. We put the most trust in the people who understand our struggles, so it’s up to you to be that voice for your audience. If your brand helps businesses become more efficient, tell your audience you understand that their work is hard, but they’ll get through it. If your brand helps keep people healthy and fit, remind them that sometimes, it’s tough to find motivation, but they can keep going; be a source of motivation for them. Once they know you understand your pain, then you can present your solution.

Answer questions. Make sure you’re giving your customers content they care about, not just what you care about. Explore the questions your customers are asking, and remember, Google is your friend! Search relevant terms that apply to your industry or service, and check out the questions that Google gives you as results. For example, I searched “marketing” in Google and the related searches included questions like “what is a marketing strategy?” and “why is marketing important?” These questions seem like a no-brainer to me, but to someone who doesn’t live in the world of marketing, these are legitimate questions. Show your audience it’s okay to ask these questions, and frame your content around them. Example: “Navigating the world of marketing isn’t always easy, but a strong marketing strategy can completely transform your business. Here’s what we’ve done in the past.”

Have a clear purpose. Think content first, not checking a box to get it done first. This will help ensure your content is reaching your audience, not getting lost in the noise. Don’t believe me? According to TrackMaven, “the output of content per brand increased 35% per channel across 2015, but content engagement decreased by 17%.” More content doesn’t mean more engagement. Remember what you’re here for: it’s all about engaging with your audience, not selling to them. Selling should come as a result of engaging and connecting with them.

Utilize user-generated content. Sometimes, you need the help of others to tell your story, especially so you don’t come off as conceited to your customers (no one likes the #humblebrag). This is where user-generated content and influencer marketing come into play. Scour social media platforms to find content posted by real customers about your brand. Share their own posts or testimonials to get their message out there about your brand. Find those people that have a large group of trusting followers. Oftentimes, influencers (bloggers, celebrities, industry pros) have the power to turn a large group of their own followers into loyal customers of yours. It’s like meeting someone new and discovering you share a mutual friend.  Part of you automatically likes them just because you like your mutual friend (well, hopefully).

Create content that engages, connects, and solves problems, and you automatically become the hero. You simply don’t have to try as hard to market your brand when you have this connection. Think of your own personal relationships: you’re way more inclined to do something for a friend, spouse, or family member when you trust them and have a deep connection with them. You’ll often do things for them before they ever ask.

You don’t win from shouting “we have the best product and you need us!” from the rooftops. You win from connecting with your audience and showing them you truly understand. If you’re struggling to find empathy in your content, my team and I would love to help. Contact us to see how we can partner together and make you the hero your audience needs.  

Klaire Maxwell