Why empathy is a crucial skill for marketers and PR pros

When trying to make your case to skeptical and overwhelmed audiences, it will be difficult to find success if you can’t walk a mile in their shoes.

It may sound odd, but empathy is one of the more valuable skills that a digital marketing expert should possess.

Consider this example: Jessica is an entrepreneur with a background in social media management. A few years ago, she hung out her shingle as a marketing consultant for nonprofit organizations.

The inspiration to start her business came after she spent some time volunteering with several organizations in her area. She simply wanted to have a way to help others in need, as she couldn’t just sit at home knowing there were people and animals who needed help.

She quickly found her niche creating campaigns designed to help attract the eye of more supporters. For each organization she works with, Jessica spends time volunteering there, taking in the day to day operations and observing the way the public perceives the organization, both online and in person.

With all of this information and her firsthand experience, Jessica is able to create content that not only depicts the organizations strongly but connects with viewers and users. Even casual followers have taken notice of her campaigns, which focus not on asking for financial support but on showing viewers how they can help and showing them what impact they can make.

These connections aren’t just generated by an algorithm that’s trained to spot patterns in date. While artificial intelligence absolutely has its place in marketing, this creative part can never be replaced by a machine or by an algorithm.

For many reasons, Jessica has found success in her niche, but one of the most important and powerful reasons why she was able to do so was because of her strongly developed sense of empathy.

Empathy allows marketers and their clients to make a genuine connection with consumers. In this modern world, that emotional connection is truly worth its weight in gold. Consumers are jaded, and they’re tired of always being sold to, lied to, or just being taken for their money at every turn.

Brands have a heightened sense of responsibility now. They must act with integrity and transparency, and they must also make an effort to find a connection as their inroad with customers.

Empathy comes into play when it comes time to land on an overarching theme for a campaign or the tone of a piece of copy, or when a brand undergoes any type of communications crisis, whether on the account of an error or in times of troubling news.

Empathy plays a huge role in the loyalty and trust of customers.

This sort of attitude should trickle into every department, too. After all, brands need to be able to walk the walk if they’re going to put their marketing into talking the talk. This means making good on promises, always treating customers with respect, and lending a sound and empathetic voice to its communications. This applies to the customer-facing employees working the front desks or the salespeople out in the field. It applies to the management, which must create a culture that fosters respect in order to have this feeling expand into the work their employees are producing.

At the end of the day, a strong sense of empathy will enable a marketing professional — and in truth, any professional or business person who values their customers — to forge those coveted relationships with wary consumers.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a PR agency.

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