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Returning to Empathy-Based Marketing

2021-03-23

Do you know your post-pandemic clients?

Cian Duffy
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Hello and welcome back to another edition of “it’s been an unprecedented year and we need to shift our perspectives to accommodate for this change.” Because whether we like it or not, we’re not done shifting.

Recent research suggests that marketing has taken a giant leap towards appealing to customer’s rationality and an even bigger leap away from marketing sympathetically.


At first we thought, how could this possibly be? The dumpster fire that has been our lives for 13 months has given us a million heartstring-pulling commercials appealing to people’s humanity and we can’t even begin to count the number of times we’ve heard the phrase, “We’re in this together.” But emotional and heartfelt don’t equal empathy. It is still rational marketing at center stage appealing to customers’ logic and sensibility.

The pandemic has made us all fit into the same demographic for businesses. Whether that was for cleaning supplies, online ordering options or work from home solutions, we all wanted similar things to meet our needs. Businesses being able to create or adapt products and services to help us navigate and meet those new needs was all the convincing we required to make purchases. Soon, businesses were yelling through the marketing funnels things like, “We have patio seating!” “Home delivery available!” and “Now offering desks with spin bike pedals!”

When circumstances, like a global pandemic, push businesses to operate a certain way, it stunts our imagination when thinking how to improve our business.

Much like we all had to adapt creatively to take the pandemic into consideration, we have to think just as creatively to come out the other side. The easy mistake to make is to revert to pre-pandemic ways as we are desperate to get back to normal, especially when sales start to build up again.

Pandemic-related needs are going to suppress and new needs are going to develop. However, unlike 13 months ago, they are going to be different from person to person.

Empathy-based marketing is understanding customers’ experiences and how we can better help them get what they want. As marketers, it is difficult not to include ourselves as the target audience, but now it’ll be harder than ever to not fall towards our own biases. If marketers don’t understand their post-pandemic customers, their marketing dollars could go to waste.

Now is a great time to think about what your organization offers once we don’t have the crutch of the pandemic to use as marketing materials. (“Did they just call the hardest year of my life a crutch?!” Yes we did, we’re not thrilled about it either.)

At Drive, this is how we’re tackling campaigns for our clients this year. We’re digging a little deeper, not just into what the customer is feeling, but factoring in what their life may have been like in the past year and understanding what they need and want now. Consumers have also gotten smarter in the last year—they can see and smell marketing-speak a mile away. It’s not just about being direct or transparent. Driving sales is the endgame, sure, but creating a connection with your customer drives loyalty and that’s much more valuable in the long run.

As we get closer to the end of this pandemic (fingers crossed), it would be beneficial to consider conducting an analysis of your current customer base and familiarizing yourself with their predicted wants and needs to be able to properly market your organization to them. This will put you miles ahead of the competition and prepare you for the year ahead, which we’re hoping will be much better for you.