While prestige, rich brand heritage, entertainment, and instant gratification have all had their time at the forefront of marketing strategies, empathy is the latest approach to be utilised in the creation of meaningful and valuable content which opens discussions and creates connections with audiences.
What is empathy marketing?
By actively seeking to put themselves in the shoes of their audience, brands are much better placed to understand and identify with the needs and situations of the very people they are trying to connect with.
An essential tool in the creation of the key traits shared within each customer persona, and the subsequent accurate interpretation of that persona, an empathetic approach can also help brands to understand precisely what their audience will find inherently valuable, rather than always being distracted by an approach that is determined to sell.
This is important because content which induces feelings of empathy is more likely to be commented on and shared, provoking discussion and even, in many cases, important change.
Why is empathy marketing suddenly so powerful?
The short answer is millennials, but perhaps not for the reasons you may initially assume. Millennials have been dubbed the overly entitled and wildly self-obsessed generation, but these labels are misguided.
With statistics  showing that 70% of millennial YouTube users turned to the platform to learn something new in 2016, and with almost half stating they have been motivated to make personal changes after finding inspiration from YouTubers, consumers simply aren’t motivated by passive content any more.
Not only preferring, but also actively looking for, content that stimulates and encourages real change, empathetic content is far more valuable than streams of passive content aimed at indulging a sense of self-entitlement that arguably doesn’t exist.
Brands cannot own empathy
Brands actively announcing from the rooftops that they are empathetic is not a strategy that is going to be met with a positive result. In fact, it will probably have the opposite effect. In the case of empathy marketing, actions speak louder than words and so providing empathy by being generous with advice, with time and with valuable content is essential.
Empathy is a feeling, but it is also an opportunity to act. For brands especially, it is essential to demonstrate the desire to use empathy as a force for change, which could mean developing a product/service which is desperately needed, or even creating content which has been designed primarily to simply provoke a smile.
Brands need an engaged and receptive audience, and audiences need to feel their attention and custom is appreciated. By creating content specifically designed to add value to their audiences’ lives and shifting the focus away from content designed to sell to them, brands will increase both their memorability factor and the positive feelings felt towards them.
A people-based approach
Thoroughly interrogating marketing strategies is an essential part of a successful empathetic approach. Brands should be questioning why an audience should care and how their approach will deliver tangible value to their audience in increasingly meaningful ways. This may result in several trips back to the drawing board, but ensuring marketing strategies are thoroughly considered before forging ahead will avoid potentially harmful missteps that can take some time to recover from.