Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
While your goal for making an ad campaign may be to gain followers, engage potential customers, make more sales or thank customers — none of that really means anything if you can’t connect with your audience first. And the key to real connection — is empathy.
How can you use empathy to connect with your audience?
1 – Take time to get to know your audience.
One of the first steps in creating any marketing campaign is to identify your target person. Not a range of people, but a single person. The more specific your audience is, the more potential empathy you’ll be able to have for them.
Then take some time to get to know this person. If your target person is a 30 yr old woman that is looking to lose weight and has already begun taking the right steps, where might you find this person to have a quick conversation? Don’t be afraid to do the research, it may be a little awkward at first but a 15 min conversation can go a long way to finding out significant details about your target person.
2 – Speak from their point of view.
Only once you understand their point of view, can you share your understanding of it. Every message, no matter your goal should position your target person as the hero of your story. Sharing what makes you great isn’t nearly as convincing as telling your audience how THEY can be great.
Empathy happens when you’re able to clearly identify a conflict your hero (audience) has — sympathize, and then provide the solution to it.
The 30 year old woman with the new fitness goal — what made her decide to act on going to the gym? What are the conflicts she has in the pursuit of her goal?
Those questions lead to answers that are likely emotional stories that other people like her may share a lot of similarities with. Using real stories like this in your advertising will without a doubt, lead to empathy.
3 – Use empathy for every step in the process.
Using empathy doesn’t stop at the story phase. Empathy can be a guiding principle for an entire campaign message starting with research, story, art direction — and going through to video or animation, audio and distribution.
All decisions for an ad campaign should always be questioned by your research and your story to visualize empathy. What colors work best to share different emotions reflected in the story? Could certain design elements or tone be considered insensitive by your audience? Everything needs purpose, from colors, line thickness, shapes, music and overall style of the piece.
Yes, empathy is one of those words thrown around quite a bit lately but don’t confuse this as a simple buzzword. As audiences pay less and less attention to advertising, empathy is one way to keep people listening.