Cast your mind back and think about what has really got an audience identifying with a brand, in the not so distant past.
Well, creating a piece of happiness for them to buy into has always worked – and still does. There is nothing like serving up sunshine for your potential customers to lap up.
Making someone’s day a little brighter and putting a smile on the face of the viewer, or reader, is a time honoured tactic of marketers. Sometimes this is done simply, by the use of music, a happy scenario (blue skies, warm seas, smiling faces) and other times, we will use irony or humour.
Either way, producing a smile on the face of the viewer or customer is often a great way to go for all advertisers.
And then we have contentment’s evil twins: envy and desire.
As marketers, we create a desire for an object, or lifestyle, in our viewers. We might even make them envious.
But what if there was another way – another emotional hook to get into our viewers’ psyche?
Well, increasingly marketers have been taking advantage of empathy.
Often overlooked in the past by advertisers, we are finding that over the last few years, marketers have been tapping directly into the empathy of their consumers.
And this tactic cuts both ways. It can be encouraging the audience to empathise with someone on screen; or it could be us, the marketers who must empathise with our customers.
Far from being the self obsessed and narcissistic generation they are made out to be, millennials in particular respond highly to empathy and marketers should take note.
Although we would expect charities to use empathy in their marketing campaigns – and of course they do, to great effect- now other advertisers are getting in on the act.
Take for example Procter and Gamble’s 2012 campaign “Thank You Mom” which showed the stories of young athletes and their relationship with their mothers.
The empathy allows the viewer to tune into the stories and makes them real. This increases the time the viewer is watching the advert and the longer they do that for, the stronger the message is.
It is important not to underestimate the effect that adverts, especially online videos can have on consumers, particularly millennials.
Nearly forty percent of this age range has said that an online video has helped shape or change their perspective on something. This is an important statistic which as advertisers, we can utilise.
As well as using a personal story to hook in the viewer and get them to emotionally connect with your brand or product, there is the flip side of the coin.
This is us, as marketers, responding to the needs of our customers. And this is where we need to persuade our clients, the brand names themselves, that there is mileage in them using their empathy.
When a PR disaster comes a calling, the best thing a company can do is something practical to help, as well as offering sympathy and if appropriate, contrition for the sorry situation.
One example of this being done right was Delta. When their flights were delayed and passengers were left stranded they pre-empted the almost inevitable social media storm that was imminent by sending in scores of pizzas to be shared amongst the waiting passengers.
Perhaps this couldn’t change the weather conditions that had caused the flights to be delayed, but it let the stranded passengers know that they hadn’t been forgotten and also, gave them something to eat whilst they were stuck!
As marketers, we cannot afford to ignore the effects of empathy for our clients, when it comes to implementing their social marketing campaigns.
But also, we need to remind them of the need to offer some empathy for their customers when things go wrong as well!