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If you’ve been in marketing (or marketing for your own business) for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard of this formula: Name the Pain + Intensify the Pain + Offer your Solution = Engaged Customer, Ready to Buy.

And as you may have deducted, it’s rarely that easy.

There are a number of ways in which it’s more complicated than that; however, I’d like to talk about just one thing that can drastically change the effectiveness of this type of business marketing.

It’s related to ‘Name the Pain,’ and yet, it’s so much more.

It’s Empathy, and believe it or not, it’s essential to sales, branding, marketing…and business in general.

Let’s talk about why it’s important and how you can put it to work for you.

Build your Brand with Empathy

Anyone can name a problem. I could ask you about a problem you’re having, find others like you and describe the problem. At first blush, they might believe that I have a handle on what they’re going through; that I really do understand. However, it won’t take long for them to discover that I really have no clue.

And this, my friends, is worse than never naming that problem in the first place.

Instead, I always recommend solving a problem that you’ve suffered through personally. This will benefit your marketing efforts because you will be able to speak to your younger self (before you solved your problem), and so your language will be genuine and you will gain instant credibility. It will also work to show your potential customers that you are empathetic to their plight, and who doesn’t want that? Add to that the fact that you’re a success story—one they want to emulate—and you’ll be far more likely to make headway in your industry.

There are, however, times in which your customers will be going through things you haven’t experienced. Sometimes, subsequent problems will crop up. Or maybe their problems are a bit different because they’re experiencing them in a different culture, or during a different time period.

In those cases, don’t abandon mission. Instead, work to develop empathy for your ideal customers. Here are some tips for doing so:

  • Experience it for Yourself: Once you’ve experienced something firsthand, you can speak from a different place, and with deeper authenticity. Certainly, you can listen intently and do your best to understand; however, putting yourself through it will prove to be the best route. If there’s any way you can endure what your target audience (or a segment of it) is suffering, then do it. Your marketing will be more productive, but there’s something more: you will establish real relationships with your customers, which will foster loyalty and make your job more fulfilling.
  • Ask Lots of Questions: If you can’t experience what they’re going through (maybe they have a disease you can’t duplicate), you can put a maximum amount of effort into understanding how they’re feeling. Ask for willing participants, and then listen to everything they say. Imagine how it feels to be them. Take note of the language they use and the emotions they express. Now, imagine what it must be like to walk in their shoes, to feel what they’re feeling and convert that to meaningful communications.
  • Give Full Consideration to Objections: If you have not been through the exact thing your ideal customers are experiencing, then you’re bound to hold some preconceptions about what they’re enduring. And chances are some of those are nothing more than assumptions…they’re wrong. Know that when someone objects to something you’re saying, or to the way in which you’re describing their problem, it’s real…and they’re probably not the only ones who will have this opinion.

I hope that every time you hear ‘Name the Problem’ your mind opens to the ways in which you can show empathy for that problem. And I trust that in every campaign, and in every communication, you will strive to let your ideal customers know that you really and truly do understand what they’re going through—because you have gone through it yourself or because you have conducted extensive research and can say that you ‘get it.’

Sammy Blindell

The author Sammy Blindell

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