If you want people to engage with your content you need their attention, and that can be hard, especially with ever-shortening attention spans. One of the most effective ways to do this is to lead with empathy, one of three components that make up an engaging marketing message.
Using these three components, empathy, authority and story, enables you to communicate the problems you solve for your customer in a way that makes them feel seen, heard and understood. You’re not trying to sell, persuade or even influence, you’re showing how you can help them and then inviting them to either signal to you that they’re interested or pass on by if it’s not for them.
One thing that I learned from Seth Godin’s book This Is Marketing was the idea that you can’t service everyone with your product, and that’s ok. Your business isn’t for everyone, and that’s a good thing. What this allows you to do is focus on serving the people who are the right fit for your business and that you can help the most. By letting everyone else pass by you’re freeing up a huge amount of time and mental energy.
Leading with empathy grabs the attention of people who are the right fit because you’re talking about their problems, their experience and their feelings. You’re showing that you see where they are, you hear their frustrations and you understand the problems they face.
To the right people, you’re saying you and me are the same, we have these things in common. They’ll be thinking “This person gets it, I want to know more.”
Once you have their attention you can then show you have authority. You can explain how you can help them and how you’ve helped others like them before. You can paint the picture of what success looks like and what their life looks like after they’ve used your product or service.
The other way you can show your authority is to explain how things can go wrong, what the risks and dangers are and how you can help them avoid this.
They’ll be thinking “This person is the right person to help me, how does it work?”
Now comes your story, where you show them how you’ll guide them to success. You weave elements of empathy and authority with your method to create a plan that will guide them to becoming the hero. You tell them about your experiences and others you’ve helped and this creates certainty.
They’ll be thinking “They have the plan and I want to go with them, when do we start”
Climbing the mountain
Think of the three elements like helping the customer to climb a mountain. We start with empathy.
“Would you like to climb that mountain? I used to look at that mountain and think I wonder what it’s like at the top, ever since I was a child I wanted to see what’s on the other side. “
We’re showing that we think as they think, we wanted the same thing that they want. Then we can add some authority.
“I trained for many years and I was the first person to successfully climb that mountain, it took a lot of attempts and failed expeditions to find a safe path to the top. But we got there and now I take 50 people a year to the top. Here is a photo of me at the top that first time”
Now we can tell them the story.
“Now I have a path to the top that has all the best views and avoids all the dangerous drops. I take small groups to the top and I love watching them enjoy the view for the first time. Would you like to see the view from the top?”
In order to get people to follow you, be the guide, not the Hero. No one wants to go to the top of the mountain with a person who’s going to take all the glory and jump around with excitement like it’s the first time they’ve been there, that’s the experience that the customer wants. So using empathy, authority and story you can position yourself as the guide that the person wants to help them become the hero.
Stand out and lead change
Leading with empathy it’s really easy to stand out from the competition because often they will be focusing on what they do and their ‘solution’. The customer doesn’t care what you do, or what your solution is, what they want to know is if you understand their problem and if you’re the right person to help them fix it.
So how can you lead with empathy to engage your ideal customer?
Empathy — show you understand, make them feel seen, heard and understood.
Authority — show them what success looks like and how you can help them avoid failure.
Story — show them how you’ve helped others and that you have the plan to help them get there.
Using empathy led marketing to grow your business
If you want to apply the principles of empathy led marketing to grow your business then check out our free small business marketing guide. The 25-page marketing guide explains how you use empathy led marketing as part of the marketing process and how to structure your marketing using a marking funnel to make it more manageable and have more impact.