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Empathy is the Future

With 2022 feeling like the hangover of the last two years but with a sprinkle of more hope, it is hard to predict what the “marketing trends” might be.

That said, there have been many lessons learnt over the last 24 months, probably more than we would see in 2 – 3 years typically. But the key ones have been:

  • Speed wins
  • Less is more – functions, social media channels, content, clicks etc
  • Trust is a crucial component
  • Board members of the business taking more interest in marketing
  • Personal branding is for everyone
  • Value-led marketing is more important than ever
  • Empathy is the future

Empathy is the future

Yes, I am starting with the last point. After reading the digital trends guide from Adobe, where their focus was on Customer Experience (CX), what brought the above list and CX together was empathy.

“Marketers excel at empathising with audiences and creating advertising that fosters an emotional bond with their brand. Applying that skill throughout the customer experience is how brands that cannot compete on convenience alone will thrive in their markets.”

(See why I started with empathy?) To get into your customer’s mindset, you need to take a moment to try and walk in their shoes to empathise with them.

Now, this is not easy. Once you are on the business side, it is hard to go back and experience your brand as a customer. But you can try. And over the last year, senior teams and board members were doing just that. Trying out their call centres, website journey, sales process and more and realised that for the most part, they were frustrating as hell. Automation became more utilised to streamline and bring teams together who were suddenly doing the hokey cokey when it came to working in the office or remotely. But these changes were only swiftly implemented because of COVID and the board got on… well…board.

This is precisely what happened in marketing departments far and wide.

Decision-makers had to look at streamlining while making the most of their budget and opportunities. While this chunk of 2020 literally gives us reflux when we look back on it, the shakeup was needed. Senior buy-in for automation, adjustments, repositioning, restructures, and dare we say it ‘the pivot’.

  • Websites were stripped back to make UX as clear as possible.
  • Automated transactional emails to nurture customers and help them along their journey.
  • Clean and efficient funnels to support sales functions.

In essence, minimal clicks, more automation, clearer propositions. ‘Niching down’ and rolling with the punches. As I have said before, if you are not competing on price, you needed to offer value. You also need to let people know what you stand for as per my discussion with Steve Randell. Click to listen.

“Now, strong brands need to cut through the clutter, have a social purpose, be transparent in its use of data, and respond to changing customer needs.”

Trust & Transparency

Building a brand gets harder and harder. Coupled with GDPR, customers want to know what you are doing with their data and have some control over that.

We saw various rounds of lockdown emails coming from the VP’s and CEO’s of companies that we forgot had our data in the first place. And while email open and click rates increased with us all being remote, I can imagine we all had a good old purge as random emails came through. I know I did.

We were also flooded with social advertising. I do companies a favour by hiding their ads and telling them they are not relevant to me if they indeed aren’t. The more intelligent they get, the more successful they will be, plus as a marketeer, I hate seeing people waste their money. The most irrelevant ads I have been served are Jimmy Choo (definitely not their demographic) and teeth straightening (had mine done three years ago). By hiding and giving feedback, the businesses will be able to put those pennies towards targeting someone more likely to convert.

Anyway, I digress.

As a business, we need to ensure that customers trust us. So say no to trying to find a loophole or a grey area that will allow you to send an email to “that” old list or remarket to people that have not agreed to it. Collect your data ethically and use it wisely.

Other ways to gain trust:

  • Publish case studies
  • Show all reviews – and respond/show your customers service skills for the not so great ones
  • Put your hands up when you make a mistake
  • Do not over-promise – especially at the moment. Customers are more forgiving right now if a parcel takes a few days longer
  • Have a straightforward complaint and feedback procedure
  • Make your contact details easy to find, i.e. phone number in the top bar not hidden in the footer or some obscure page
  • Offer all types of communication, not just a form
  • Be human on your communication channels and respond to everything

So while there are not many trends we would like to predict this year (or for any) – there are certainly lessons learnt we could take action from. But one thing is for sure empathy is the future.


Consistant comms

Marketing communications is a key way to build trust with your customers (and potential customers)? From stakeholder comms to newsletters, online content and thought-leadership pieces, there’s certainly a lot to cover. A flexi-extension of your team to ease that burden sounds pretty good right now, doesn’t it?

Pad and pen on a table.