An emerging truth about the world of digital transformation is the greater the increase in technology, the greater the need to understand humans. Knowing how technologies and digital transformation are affecting how we work, conduct business, and go about our daily lives will be an imperative businesses cannot ignore. In essence, it will take human understanding to succeed at modern marketing.
A cornerstone principle behind a human-centered approach to modern marketing is being empathetic to the goals of humans – in our case your users, customers, and buyers. Empathy will serve as the driving force behind the power of Human-Centered Marketing. There is a simple truth to #HCM – to establish meaningful connections, which rise above the loud din of digital technologies, you will need to know your customers and buyers deeply and know what really matters to them.
What It Means To Empathize
To empathize means to walk in their shoes. To understand the people you are trying to reach and connect with. In the modern marketing world where content has become the dominant way we communicate, empathy serves as a foundation to stand above the overdosing flood of information experienced by customers and buyers. It requires us to understand the context of the goals and challenges of our customers and buyers.
When we empathize, there are several things we want to know. We want to know:
- How they think
- How they view their challenges
- How they view the world
- What matters to them and why
- The way they go about conducting business
- Their goals and wants
- And their emotional needs
Empathy then is about making a very human connection with your customers and buyers.
Importance Of Empathizing
A major challenge for many modern marketers today is getting heard and getting read in a sea of information. Depending on various sources and reports, it is realistic to believe seventy percent (70%) or greater of content never gets used today. This is a telltale sign the struggle persists in connecting with customers and buyers.
In order for modern marketers to communicate in ways you can be heard and read, the role of empathy becomes all the more important. We cannot communicate well if we do not know who our customers and buyers are, what things are important to them, and why what they hope to accomplish is important to them.
Many of our great works in science, technology, business, the arts, and causes come from the same source – insights into human behavior. Gaining insights into human behavior, by watching, observing, and listening makes it possible to be empathetic to what confronts people, how they feel, and what it means to have goals and wants fulfilled. The very things modern marketers need to understand in order to communicate and connect with modern customers and buyers. In essence, empathy allows us to connect with customers and buyers on a human level – not a stoic and dry business speak level.
The importance of empathizing calls for rethinking how we interact with customers and buyers. While we are connected in ways like never before digitally, it has disconnected us from the world of human engagement. Modern marketers then must re-learn and re-think the concept of engagement in human terms as opposed to digital terms. Engaging directly with users, customers, and buyers to experience their world, how they think and feel, and why things matter.
How do we reconcile becoming empathetic in a world increasingly connected through digital airwaves? There are three ways we can become more empathetic:
By Seeing: our world is being reshaped dramatically by digital transformation. It is easy to think “seeing” today takes place primarily on a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone screen. To become empathetic means to observe the physical and human context in which people are working in. In the 1,000’s of interviews I have done with buyers directly, what people say they do on the phone and what is actually observed is oftentimes vastly different. Thus, direct field observations can reveal profound insights.
By Listening: the art and science of qualitative interviewing is really the art and science of conversation. You are attempting to engage in a conversation whereby you hear the stories, which matter to people and why. When it comes to customers and buyers, qualitative interviews become the source for deeper insights and deeper meaning. Both are needed to become empathetic.
By Interaction: increasingly important in a digital world is the art and science of seeing, listening, and interacting in a real world environment. This means to actually become an active participant in someone’s daily work, situation, or function. To actually experience contextually what a person is going through when interacting with people and digital technology. For example, recently I sat next to a buyer using and interacting with a cloud-base service to gain real-time interaction insight.
Learning Through Empathy
What we can learn through empathy can help us to create and design content as well as marketing strategies we know will matter to our customers and buyers. Modern marketers will need to look up and outward to learn what truly matters to customers and buyers in the most human of ways. Empathy, in today’s digital world, means resisting the temptation to believe we can learn only from data streaming across screens. It means becoming a human-centered marketer.
As mentioned in my previous article, the future of modern marketing is human-centered. The power of Human-Centered Marketing begins with empathy.