Effective marketing relies on many skills, including the ability to empathize with consumers. Marketers need to anticipate the wants and motivations of their consumers. They also need to determine which modes of communication reach their audiences most effectively.
The online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Marketing program at Southeastern Oklahoma State University builds on fundamental business studies and explores relevant marketing topics like data analysis, social media management and consumer behavior.
Graduates will be prepared with the tools they need to successfully navigate modern marketing challenges. If you are wondering if the marketing industry has really changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the answer is a resounding yes.
Understanding Consumers in the Time of COVID-19
A marketer’s effectiveness depends largely on the anticipation and understanding of the consumer. This begins by simply reflecting on what drives you as a consumer. As a marketing professional, ask yourself the questions you would ask consumers. Realize that you and your audience share experiences, and build from there.
At its core, empathetic analysis is a means of “perspective taking.” By reflecting on how COVID-19 has disrupted your own life, you can begin forming theoretical perspectives on how it has disrupted others’ lives. Are you working from your kitchen table with kids running around? Have you lost loved ones to the virus? Do you feel stress and uncertainty? Has the pandemic stretched your mental, emotional and physical health to the limit?
Using a bit of empathy, imagine your marketing audience in the same situation, or worse. Many can’t work from home. Millions of people are out of work entirely. Essential workers are risking exposure to the coronavirus every day. You can apply this empathetic approach to your marketing strategies.
How Can Marketing During COVID-19 Be More Empathetic?
Marketing from a place of empathy means more than understanding consumer behavior to generate sales. Empathetic marketing means caring about the consumer and building connections. It means focusing on consumer needs and putting people first.
Marketers should concentrate on clear, supportive messaging that provides useful resources during the pandemic. Make your brand a reputable source of reliable information. Engage consumers in conversations to see how you could better serve them in the current environment. Create content that truly enriches the consumer experience and helps your customers cope with difficult conditions. When people find reasons to trust your messaging, they’ll return again and again.
These are old marketing tactics with new intentions that prioritize connections and consumers’ well-being over prospects and leads. Leverage resources and consumer trends (like increased screen time during the pandemic) to better engage consumers and strive toward content-based, inbound marketing.
Empathetic marketing simply shifts the present motivation and immediate results for longer-term benefits. Focusing on others’ perspectives and the consumer experience is essential for sustainable recovery, so convincing business leaders of the merits of empathetic marketing is definitely worth the effort.
What Should Marketers Avoid During the Pandemic?
Marketing strategy and messaging must adapt to address evolving consumer needs and concerns during the pandemic. Messaging that may have been entirely effective before the pandemic could now be irrelevant, tone-deaf or irresponsible. Stubbornly adhering to pre-pandemic marketing strategies could not only be ineffective but also harmful to a brand’s reputation and the loyalty of its customer base.
Importantly, avoid marketing that will come across as insensitive and self-serving. This doesn’t mean creating innovative services and products that help consumers weather the pandemic is a bad thing. These innovations are necessary, and consumers welcome them. However, as a marketing method, “chasing the ambulance” to make a sale is distinctly lacking in empathy and integrity, and your consumers will see right through it.
Intentions and actions matter, especially to consumers facing unprecedented hardships. Many companies are demonstrating that they care about their customers by offering helpful services free of charge, waiving fees, being flexible with payment plans and more.
Good marketers should try to help a company express its humanity through positive, useful messaging. Encourage your clients to invest in their communities, and market that investment to consumers. Connect consumers with content and services that will help them through these difficult times and enrich their lives.