Empathy: How It Can Boost Your Marketing

Empathy, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is: “The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”

Being empathetic can help you connect with people. As a perhaps unexpected benefit of that connection, you could find that your marketing efforts are boosted.

Benefits of being empathetic

Being able to put yourself in the shoes of your clients has advantages.

Empathy can help you understand your clients’ goals. Understanding what they’re looking for can enable you to craft the right messaging for them, as well as carry that through into your interactions with them.

It can allow you to get inside the motivations, needs and pain points of potential clients. If you can do this, you can use that knowledge to be more persuasive. And the more persuasive your marketing is, the more interest you’ll likely garner.

Being more empathetic can also give you a clearer understanding of your target client base. The more you understand, the more effectively you’ll be able to segment your audiences.

But don’t forget that with empathy comes authenticity. You can’t fake empathy for the purposes of convincing people to give your firm a chance and driving more business to your firm. It needs to be genuine or you could come across as manipulative.

Empathy as a trust builder

According to Harvard Business School professor Frances X Frei and leadership consultant Anne Morriss: “In our experience, trust has three core drivers: authenticity, logic, and empathy.

“People tend to trust you when they believe they are interacting with the real you (authenticity), when they have faith in your judgment and competence (logic), and when they feel that you care about them (empathy).”

Frei and Morriss explain that if a “sceptic” of your firm thinks you’re putting your own interests first, “that’s an empathy problem”. By their logic, if a prospective client thinks you’re only providing your service for profit, they might have a problem trusting your firm.

This reinforces the importance of incorporating empathy in both your marketing messages and your interactions with clients and prospects. Use your understanding of clients’ situations to show that you’re not just in it for yourself, but that you want to help them.

Look at your service provision

Stewart Butterfield, founder of communication tool Slack, has said: “It’s very difficult to design something for someone if you have no empathy.”

What Butterfield says is relevant to your law firm. You may struggle to effectively design your services without a degree of genuine empathy.

Think about your clients. Step into their shoes. What do they need from you? Do they want hand-holding and regular check ins? Or do they just want a professional to progress their case and let them know when it’s concluded? Do you have both types of client, depending on the service?

Build your insights into your marketing. If you find that your client base is looking for different things, promote the fact that you offer those things. Try to reflect your empathy in your tone and the words you choose to use when communicating with prospects.

Putting prospects at ease

As we’ve all heard too many times to count in the last 18 months – but that doesn’t make it any less true - we’re living in very uncertain times. As a result, prospective clients could be feeling nervous, worried or stressed about their futures. A little bit of empathy could go a long way towards making them feel at ease.

It could also be the one factor that sets your firm apart from your competitors. Embracing a more human approach can give you the edge.

So this could be the nudge you need to test the incorporation of deeper degrees of empathy in your marketing.


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