The Emergence of Empathy Marketing

Empathy Marketing

Old habits die hard. Since the dawn of relational databases, marketers have equated success with their ability to accumulate and process data to inform their marketing strategy. Over the past two decades, much of marketing has been focused on systemizing insights and quantifying qualitative data to make better and faster decisions.

Then, along came the web that flooded marketing with more data (a LOT more data) and more means to use it. Now it’s fair to say the web 2.0 has even taken the processing of marketing data to a point of saturation.

Traditional marketing organizations have tried to keep up by becoming more and more analytical and bringing in new tools and processes to deal with large sets of messy data. But something got lost in the shuffle. The web 2.0 may have seemed like a natural progression from web 1.0 (hence the naming convention) towards more data and more tools to use them. It wasn’t.

By connecting people to people, the social web created a platform for consumers, users, employees to talk to one another, exchange ideas, transact, and organize at a scale we have yet to grasp.

In a word, it has humanized the web and paved the way for a more collaborative way of doing business between brands and people.

What’s the big deal?

Traditional marketing organizations have been successful these past 20 years by leading with their left-brain and becoming disciples of the ‘science of marketing’*.

These rational organizations have been trying to make the social web fit their mental (and business) model. It doesn’t. And it won’t. Instead, marketers are now forced to recognize that their customers are people… with all the quirkiness and complexity that comes along with being human.

Marketers have to get to know customers for real, not just through statistics and demographic groups and not just through the glass window of a focus group. They have to be them in order to succeed.

Welcome to the era of empathy marketing.

In order to succeed in this post web 2.0 world, modern marketers have to become more than data crunching machines. They have to revive the creative and social side of their organization and build relationships with the people who matter most to them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying data doesn’t matter. It does a great deal, but data has to be used to inform and measure a new way of doing business, building a brand and relating to customers.

This is the challenge marketers are facing. Many brands are already making strides, exploring and experimenting on the fringes of their core marketing practice. Most have yet to take the leap and truly reinvent themselves.

What do you think?

*A math professor once told me that any discipline feeling the need to add ‘science’ to its name could be many things but not a science.