For a while now, empathy marketing has been an important topic in the B2C space, and there are lots of examples to illustrate this strategy.
For instance, check out this awesome example of empathy marketing by the brand Extra Space Storage.
However, for the B2B marketer, evoking empathy in their buyers is not so easy. The B2B space is considered more “professional” and less “emotional,” so it’s not as simple to pull on someone’s heartstrings by filming mothers and their children interact.
That being said, empathy marketing is still an important part of the B2B buyer’s purchasing decision because behind the “business” in “business-to-business” interactions are people with emotions and morals.
In this article, we’re going to dive into what empathy marketing is and how to implement it in your marketing strategy in order to connect with your B2B audience.
What is Empathy Marketing?
If you’ve read our blog post, “How to Appeal to Emotion in Your B2B Marketing Campaigns,” you have a good idea of the definition of empathy and how to use it to negotiate with the individual B2B buyer. But how can you implement empathetic marketing into your strategy to connect to a broader B2B audience?
First, we have to ask the question, “What makes a buyer connect to a brand in the first place?”
To recap, the definition of empathy is “the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s shoes.”
Based on this definition, empathy is what makes it possible for the buyer to understand and relate to an experience a brand is attempting to create. And guess what? Buyers (often unconsciously) make their purchasing decisions based on this ability to feel emotions evoked by others.
Therefore, empathy marketing is when the marketer designs a marketing strategy based off of the understanding of which emotions will evoke empathy in their target customer in order to get said customer to connect to their brand.
So now we’re back to the question, “How can you implement empathetic marketing into your strategy to connect to a broader B2B audience?
How to Implement Empathy Marketing into Your B2B Marketing Strategy
Hopefully, it’s not a surprise that the first three steps to creating a more empathetic marketing strategy all are centered around the customer. With that in mind, get ready to understand, define, and address your customer.
1. Understand the Customer
Like any marketing strategy, understanding the mind’s of your B2B customers is the first step towards creating an empathic marketing strategy. This is a crucial first step because not every customer will connect to every message, and you need to understand who you’re talking to in order to figure out how to communicate with them.
For example, according to a SMITH study, there are up to eight different emotions that influence how consumers make buying and shopping decisions.
Which emotions are driving your customer’s shopping and buying decisions? To find out you have to get into the mind of your audience by collecting and analyzing data.
Pro Tip: Artificial Intelligence is making data collection and analysis more dynamic, precise, and relevant than ever before. Check out this article by Tech Emergence to see six examples of AI in Business Intelligence Applications.
2. Define the Customer
It’s not enough to just understand your customer. Without a documented persona in place, your research can quickly become diluted or unused throughout the rest of the company.
These aren’t just any personas though—focus on defining the driving force behind your customers’ emotions. Get to the root of not just their pain points, but how they feel because of these pain points.
Making distinctions between these emotions will help inform your content. For example, an overwhelmed customer wants a simplified guide, but a hopeless customer needs something inspiring and tactical to tackle their challenges.
Recommended reading: “Before You Go to Market, Go to Persona”
3. Speak to the Customer
Creating empathetic content is an important step in the empathetic marketing journey because it defines how you’ll show buyers that you understand what it’s like to walk in their shoes.
B2B customers (and most customers for that matter) feel good when a brand has a solution to their problem. Deliver a message that demonstrates your brand’s ability to solve issues that matter to the customer.
Understanding and defining your customer personas will help in the process of choosing the best message and the medium that will create the right reaction.
Pro Tip: Use your blog to establish a narrative that focuses on the important issues of your customers. This is also a great place for customers to discuss these issues and give you insight into which topics they care enough about to comment on. Furthermore, the highly visual nature of video content is great for relaying a message in an impactful and efficient manner.
For example, check out how IBM address social issues in their empathetic marketing campaign below.
Empathy in the Real World
The B2B giant IBM has an excellent idea of what empathic marketing looks like in their campaign aimed at addressing some of the biggest environmental issues the world is facing today.
The video combines dark humor and hard facts to convey a message about the out of control and wasteful agricultural system. IBM ends the video with a simple URL encouraging viewers to go check out their THINK Blog.
The goal here is to not only to show viewers what IBM is doing with their research team but also to evoke empathy in their viewers about the environment. If the viewer feels connected to IBM’s efforts, they may want to employ some of their services.
Although empathy marketing isn’t so simple in the B2B space, it’s still an effective and important method for getting your brand’s message across to the right customers.
Start by understanding your customer and then define what matters to them most. Once you have a thorough understanding of the customer, create content that will relay your message in the most impactful way.