You may know your target audience. Typically, it’s the first step in marketing. But, appealing to them and moving your target audience to action is another story. How do you create connection with your audience? We’ve found empathy is the best guide to truly understanding the world of your audience — their needs, feelings, and desires.
Research Your Target Audience Using Empathy
So, you might be wondering what it means to use empathy to research your audience? To start, empathy is defined as our ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions. While this is a simplified, pared-down definition of a rather large concept, it gets to the core of empathy — the ability to see and understand the emotions, world, and the perspective of others. Emotions play a considerable role in our decision-making as consumers. According to Psychology Today, using “functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences), rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).”
Grabbing your target audience’s attention isn’t enough in marketing. But when you use empathy, speaking to their needs and feelings, and understanding their world, then you’ll be able to create true connection and empower action aligned with your marketing goals. Understanding your audience’s lives will help you to identify their needs and effectively match those needs with your solutions.
Empathy fuels connection.
Successful marketing outcomes begin with an empathy-first definition of your audience. Unique audiences require different communication and will react to certain words and visuals based on demographics and certain biases. But, by imagining your audience’s perspectives and needs with empathy, you’ll be able to more quickly and clearly identify how your marketing project will address them by avoiding the wrong tone, action, and visuals for your marketing project.
Step 1: See their world.
- How does your target audience view your goal in positive, negative, and/or neutral terms?
- What may change each audience’s perception of the goal to align with your goal?
Step 2: Appreciate your audience as humans.
- See the audience as the individuals that they are — likes, dislikes, values, insecurities, responsibilities, roles, personal goals, etc.
- What is most important to them and why?
Step 3: Understand feelings.
- Learn which emotions arise in your audience in relation to your marketing solutions and goal.
- Identify which emotions will connect to or block each audience’s contribution toward the goal.
- What problems do they face and what emotion is felt?
Step 4: Communicate understanding.
- Create a summary of the problem and the stakes if the goal is not reached.
- Develop a narrative where each audience can play a crucial role in attaining your goal.
Using an Empathy-First Project Framework
We wanted to create a new way of brand design and marketing — through a personal and empathy-first approach. We found using an empathy-first framework gives us tangible steps to see real results including becoming more efficient with limited resources, better at identifying project needs and fostering a more creative environment.
Whenever we begin a new branding or marketing project, we always start with clarity. Here’s a peek into our creative process:
Identify project needs more fully, with more clarity to ensure our team is all on the same page. Coming to an agreement on the elements critical to the success of a project and how your team will get there is about understanding each other’s perspectives. When we accept and internalize the important aspects of others as our own, we ensure a successful collaboration and cohesive project outcome.
Next, we discuss and define the process, budget, and scope of the project. This helps your team become more efficient and more effective in the use of limited marketing resources, limited budget, time, and talent.
To produce the best ideas and creative solutions from your team, embedding empathy into your project framework is imperative. Instead of competing for and selecting THE idea, solution, or path, empathy creates an environment where ALL ideas are heard and considered, ensuring the best-fit solution will emerge with less risk of missteps. To foster a more creative and collaborative environment, you’ll need to leave ego and judgment behind. Stop labeling ideas “good” or “bad” and start focusing on the “WHY” behind them.
Deliver kindness and less hassle every time and in every project. We understand creating marketing and branding projects can come with stress, hiccups, and frustration. But with empathy rooted in every step of the project, the entire process becomes much more enjoyable. The end result is then created through joy, understanding, and successful creative collaboration — creating an experience you want to come back to for every project.
Start with Empathy
Seeing the connection between an idea and the end goal is not always straightforward. But with empathy ingrained in every step of your marketing project, you will be better able to fuel connection and aligned action with your audience, communicate effectively with prospects, customers, partners, and employees, and know where to start with new marketing initiatives.
Be sure to check out our “Identify Your Audience With Empathy Worksheet” to help you connect with your audience through empathy and understand how to reach your marketing project goal.