What’s one thing that the recent election, inauguration, and Super Bowl all have in common? Empathy. That’s right; all three events have given the people of the United States a feeling of empathy or a desiring to receive empathy. But how are they connected exactly?
Kevin McKeon puts it this way, “The election fueled it, the inauguration sealed it, and the Super Bowl was its first big state, offering a $5 million shot to put your brand’s empathy on display for all America to see and admire.” Sure enough, the Super Bowl hosted many more politically driven commercials than in previous years. Brands took a stance on today’s hot topics and let their opinions be known thus kicking off the newest trend in marketing for 2017: empathy.
Empathy is defined as: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
McKeon, author of the article, “A Brand’s Guide to Empathy: Marketing’s Latest Buzzword”, gives advice to advertisers as they strive to be empathetic in order to win customers for their brand.
You don’t own empathy
That’s right, empathy isn’t something you have; it’s something you give. Empathy isn’t about you; it’s about the person you’re relating to. In a business worldview, empathy isn’t about your company or how great you are, it’s about the customer feeling understood and welcomed.
Empathy isn’t just something you feel – it’s something you do
While empathy may begin as a feeling, it has the ability to grow into action. Businesses have the resources to make action out of feeling. Let empathy be shown through your company’s deeds.
Think like people, not like marketers
Why would people care? Would people want this? How is this delivering real value? If I were in their shoes, would I buy it? Think like people who are in search of something, not like marketers trying to sell something. Understand what people want and provide that for them.
Empathy should also be fun
Let’s face it; Super Bowl 51 lacked some “laugh until your stomach hurts” commercials. But empathy and humor don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Ikea (Sweden) reminds the world that life should be fun and provide laughter with their “Retail Therapy” campaign. They’ve got a whole website (ikearetailtherapy.com) filled with products renamed to match Google search results regarding relationships in Sweden. Some of my favorites being a mattress wedge titled, “She Doesn’t Want to Cuddle”, a floor length mirror called, “World’s Most Beautiful People List”, and a pair of scissors named, “My Son Plays Too Much Computer Games”.
Empathy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution
Remember your audience, your brand, and your message.
While 2017 may be the year of empathy, remember that your customer is the most important part of the equation.