Digital marketing offers many advantages, and in today’s fast-moving and “instant gratification” society, embracing the digital marketing approach is a must. Still, digital marketing does have its faults, and one of those is a loss of human connection. Many digital marketing campaigns lack the empathy and connection that should be at the center of a truly good marketing initiative.
By taking a walk in your customer’s or prospect’s shoes, you will create a level of empathy that will translate into more personal and successful marketing campaigns.
Connect to your Consumer
Andy Hill, founder and CEO of Stand4, describes in a recent article for Entrepreneur an encounter he had with a Budweiser employee following the wake of his grandmother. An encounter in which he was standing by himself following the service and was waved at by one of the company’s drivers. He says that this one moment made more of an impact than any of the hundreds of Budweiser ads that play on TV.
Through this experience, he ruminates on the idea that successful marketing does not have to be about appealing to your entire audience of consumers. Rather, marketing can also be about creating moments with a select few, or even just one of your target audience. The goal should be to form a lasting and positive impression. If you do this, your company sells itself. The question is, how do you create those special moments?
The key to forming a human connection is in understanding the world and people around you. This can be especially beneficial in marketing. If you want to create content that will resonate with your audience, you must have an honest and almost pathological empathy for your customers. As asserted by Ann Handley in her book, Everybody Writes, your goal should be to produce content that your consumers will thank you for. In order to do this, you must take the time to walk in their shoes and gain a deeper understanding of who you are reaching out to.
Knowing Where to Start
There are many ways to gain an understanding of your audience, but it may be best to start at your back door – or in this case, within your marketing team. Think about your target audience and then think about your team members. If you are reaching out to 30-something mothers of young children and you have someone in your office who is in that demographic, connect with them. Get their input on marketing decisions, not only from their standpoint as a member of your team, but as a consumer as well.
Focus groups can also be a great advantage to marketers. Gather a group of people who meet the demographics you are hoping to appeal to and have a discussion. Ask them about their life, gain a deeper understanding of what they are looking for in a product, what thoughts go through their mind when considering a purchase, and what ultimately drives them to spend their hard-earned money. Translate all of these ideas into a marketing campaign that will enable your company to make a deeper, more personal connection with consumers.
Brainstorming, one-on-one conversations, and focus groups can be worthwhile if you are hoping to connect with your customers and establish a level of empathy. The more people who come together, the better the chance that you will gain insight into the mind and feelings of your audience.
Think Beyond Digital Marketing
Another way to empathize and connect with your audience is to think beyond marketing. Put another way, look at every interaction as a chance to market. Sound confusing? Simply put, take advantage of every interaction to connect with your audience on a personal level.
Don’t just reach out to consumers through ads, but provide quality customer service. Thanks to social media, consumers have a window into how companies treat their customers and they are paying attention. Customer service is an excellent way to get an audience to connect with your brand, as evident by such companies as T-Mobile, which has leveraged this approach to great success.
Rather than advertise to your customers, think instead of forming an ongoing relationship. Your social media page should not just be a digital billboard. Consumers will want to use sites like Facebook and Twitter to seek help, provide feedback, and to resolve problems. The easier it is to do that, and the more positive their experience, the more memorable it will be. And this is true not just for them, but for everyone who is following your feed from their own personal devices.
The saying has reached the level of cliché, but it’s true: put your customers first.
Do You Know What Your Customers Want or Need?
Studies show that a large part of consumer decisions are triggered by emotional, rather than logical, reactions. If you wish to have a successful marketing campaign and create a positive brand image, clearly the way to do that is through empathizing with your audience. Show them that you truly understand who they are and that you care about meeting their needs and wants – it can pay dividends in the long run.