Empathy: The Essential Element of B2B Content
Without empathy, your B2B marketing copy is going is going to fall flat.
In recent years, there’s been a move in B2B marketing (and marketing in general) to develop brand voices that are empathetic with the customer.
Empathy is necessary for creating content that will resonate with your audience. Otherwise, you’ll create distance between you and them, and this distance can have significant negative effects, preventing leads from generating and deals from closing.
Empathy is one of the most valuable marketing tools you already have. Now it’s time to figure out how to use it successfully.
Why Focus on Empathy?
Incorporating empathy into a company’s brand development and presence can drive long-term business success. Consider the 2016 Empathy Index. In 2015, a UK consulting company created a list of 170 companies ranked according to their research into their corporate cultures.
They then watched their businesses for a year and discovered that the top 10 most empathetic companies increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50% more earnings (defined by market capitalization).
Empathy isn’t a powerless, abstract term. It’s a real concept that serves as a critical component of your brand’s promise. When applied appropriately, empathy can generate real results for your business. Often, empathetic marketing starts with the messaging choices you make when positioning your company to the market.
Consider these three primary benefits of empathetic marketing copywriting:
1. It Humanizes Your Brand
When it comes to B2B marketing, companies often forget that at the end of the day, their buyers are individual people making decisions on behalf of a larger organization. Because your buyers are human, they need to see that you’re human, too. They want to know that if something goes wrong with the technology, a person will be available to help them—a person who understands their specific pain points and business requirements.
Empathetic copywriting is one way to highlight the human side of your brand. By tapping into your customers’ emotions and pain points, you can position your company as relatable, approachable, and understanding. This is something that you can only accomplish with strong, human content writers.
As artificial intelligence (AI) technology makes its way into content marketing, there will be opportunities to automate copywriting. And while this may seem like a more efficient approach, a machine cannot create content that produces emotional impact, or develop original ideas or texts off the cuff. Only humans can humanize your brand; if you rely only on technology to churn out content, your company message will sound computer-generated. Instead, consider using these AI tools to garner market data and insights that can then drive your content marketing strategy.
2. Empathetic Copywriting Ensures Your Customer Remains Your Priority
Focusing on empathy in your content writing helps ensure your customer remains your top priority. Rather than tailoring your content to what your company does, this approach tailors it to who you serve.
Empathy should permeate across your organization, meaning marketing, sales, and customer support teams should have a deep understanding of who your customer is and why they need what your company offers. When someone interacts with your website, attends a webinar, or speaks with a customer support rep, they should feel that your company gets them and can offer a real solution to their problems.
Take for example Prove Investing*, a retirement planning provider for small to mid-sized businesses. This page on the Prove website highlights one of the company’s unique value propositions: low fees. By leading with the customer’s main pain point (that 401(k) plans cost too much), Prove displays a customer-centric approach to describing the benefits of its solution. A customer or prospect is a lot more likely to keep reading if you start by focusing on them.
*Prove is a client of Golden Spiral and our content specialists write and/or help prepare the company’s marketing content.
3. It Leads to Higher Customer Satisfaction
Ultimately, empathetic marketing messages can result in happier customers. When you show your customers that you’re human and that you put them first, they are more likely to trust you. This trust then turns into loyalty and long-term allegiance. Satisfied customers stick around, and they are your biggest advocates and referrals for generating new business.
Satisfaction comes when you use empathy to validate your customers’ emotions. Validating their emotions then gives them greater confidence in the quality of your offering because they’ll see how the products and services address their specific needs rather than only seeing self-serving messages about your company. You want them to feel heard and understood in each interaction, so they can experience a high level of satisfaction with your brand.
How to Add Empathy to Your Writing
Crafting empathetic marketing copy requires strategic preparation and a clear focus on reaching your customers’ top pain points. You can’t achieve an empathetic voice without making changes to your writing approach.
Below are three practical steps to take when incorporating empathy into your B2B tech marketing copywriting.
1. Figure out Exactly Who Your Customer Is
In order to empathize with your customer, you first must know your customer. This means not only understanding your broader market, but the individual buyers and decision-makers at the organizations you’re targeting. You need to have a firm grasp of industry trends affecting businesses on the whole, and what these trends mean for people in specific roles.
This blog post by 360 View*, a relationship management tool for banks and credit unions, outlines the digital challenges facing traditional financial institutions before sharing tips for remaining competitive in a digital banking environment. With this approach, the company shows it understands what’s going on in the financial industry and how the digital-only banking trend is impacting its customers. 360 View demonstrates an awareness of industry challenges that sets the stage for empathetic, customer-centric conversations.
Before formulating a marketing strategy or launching a campaign, we always recommend creating buyer personas to clearly outline your buyers’ job responsibilities, priorities, and concerns. But, as B2B buying trends change, the number and variety of people in the buying process has increased. You now need to account for a decision-making team full of C-suite members, researchers, and influencers. Each of these roles faces different challenges that require your empathy.
*360 View is a client of Golden Spiral and our content specialists write and/or help prepare the company’s marketing content.
2. Change the Hero in Your Story
One of the biggest mistakes a company can make when crafting brand messaging is to position itself as an industry hero. If you focus solely on your capabilities and influence, your customer will feel de-valued and overlooked. This is the opposite of what you want with empathetic copywriting. Like we said, empathy is inherently customer-centric, and your content should reflect this.
Try instead to make your customer the hero of your story. This will require you to remove yourself from your product and/or services, and really hone in on what your customer excels at and what they need to improve their performance. Then, you can highlight how your solution solves their critical problems, so they can be industry leaders.
During a recent presentation to a group of fintech startups, our CEO John Farkas made the point that companies need to stop being the hero and start pointing the spotlight on their customers. He joked that we need to be Robin to our customer’s Batman.
In a Forbes panel post, Jake Rheude, vice president of marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment, recommended marketers “craft a story that views customer problems from the customer’s perspective to build a sense of empathy along with narrative tension that draws potential customers in.” Rather than immediately explaining how you can solve a customer’s problem, first show them that you understand the depth and breadth of their problems. This is critical for establishing trust and creating an authentic relationship with your customers.
3. Find an Emotional Angle
Remember, your customers are human. And you’re human. So, you should write like a human. Writing with empathy requires you to appeal to your customers’ emotions. Figure out how they feel about specific issues, and tailor your messages to these feelings.
For example, do paper-based, manual workflows cause your buyers to feel frustrated, exhausted and dissatisfied with their jobs? Does your solution eliminate these processes? If so, address these emotional concerns and highlight how your solution will change they way they feel every day.
As Sonia Simone at Copyblogger states, the “problem-agitate-solve” copywriting formula is typically successful, but if it’s taken too far, it can push a prospect over the line into unhelpful anxiety. It’s important to be aware of this possibility, and to keep your focus on making your prospects feel safe and happy. You want to empathize with their problems, rather than highlighting their problems. This empathy can then help you bring out positive emotions in your customers about your company.
Empathy is a valuable tool in your marketing toolbox, and it should be used across all areas of written, visual, and verbal communication. And, what’s great about empathy is it’s something you already possess.
Take stock of the marketing content you’ve created — are there places where you can apply empathy to create a more compelling message? If so, make the necessary changes and share these lessons learned with your entire marketing and sales teams for maximum impact. This can spur change across your organization, causing a ripple effect with your existing customer relations and lead generation efforts.