What are we referring to here?
Loneliness, of course. Isolation is pervasive in today’s climate, and brands have a moral imperative to talk about it, address it, and act with empathy as consumers try to find their way through this new world. Social responsibility should now be safely in the marketer’s wheelhouse. We can’t simply shout about products anymore; there also has to be a reckoning with how people feel.
Organizations that prioritize their customers in this way are more successful and profitable, bringing in 60% more revenue than their more product-focused peers.
But what’s the best way to do so? Showing empathy certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. First, it requires an attempt at understanding — a trying-on of someone else’s shoes. Then, it requires action: an authentic reaching out, offering value, and building trust.
This is no small achievement for brands that are used to placing the bottom line over all else because it means shifting the way we view success. Conversions and acquisitions are all well and good, but they belong to a language of ownership. What customers need is for brands to care about their day, how they feel, and what they need.
4 Strategies for Creating a More Empathetic Brand
Here are some ways that brands can make a shift and start reaching out with empathy, even when times are tough:
1. Start with your employees. Empathy is now as valuable a workplace skill as, say, the ability to use Microsoft Excel, and today’s CEOs are recognizing its importance. After all, finding and investing in employees who can relate to customers is an excellent strategy for nurturing empathy in the organization as a whole. Employees get close to customers, and they can turn moments of kindness into long-term loyalty.
Brands can encourage this empathy by trusting employees to engage with customers in human ways before trying to sell, convert, or even inform.
2. Practice active listening. It’s important that customers recognize the empathy you’re giving out — that they feel listened to and cared for. They might not come to your brand of their own accord (you might have to invite them via a survey or a social media post, for instance), but once they’re engaging and offering their opinions, listen carefully. In this data, both qualitative and quantitative, you’ll find the insights you need to create more empathetic marketing materials.
3. Celebrate life’s wins. Empathy isn’t just about listening to customers’ pain points; it’s also about helping them feel good when they’ve got something to celebrate. As a trusted brand, you can reach out like a friend or family member would when something good happens. Recognize your customers’ important life moments by sending personal messages. Handwritten notes are particularly great for showing people you’re thinking about them at memorable times.
4. Offer support during hard times. The hardest times in customers’ lives often go unwitnessed. This might be the first moment they’re alone in the house after a loved one has passed, for instance, or the moments they travel home after caring for an elderly relative. Offer support whenever you know customers are going through something; it’s a crucial bond builder that will encourage them to engage again.
A national health plan does this by sending unexpected greeting cards to those who need a little extra love. These are simple, kind gestures that reach people when they need it to help uplift them. “Our members are receiving the ‘we’re here for you’ cards and are expressing their gratitude when talking with our associates,” notes one Medicare member experience manager.
The feedback from card recipients is overwhelming with empathy: “I was having the worst day, but then I got this Hallmark card in the mail, and it made me cry to know someone (outside of my family) cared! The timing was perfect!”
A card can go a long way. Whether it’s an employee appreciation card that helps a new hire feel welcome or a “thank you and stay safe” card to show a little extra love to someone who might be struggling, a card can really impact how someone feels on a given day. Greeting cards for business are a way of building empathy and growing long-term engagement for your brand.
Get started today with a Hallmark card or download our whitepaper — “How to Bring Emotional Engagement Into a Personalized Marketing Plan” — to learn more about how to better engage your customers.