Copyblogger recently put out A Complete Guide to Crawling Inside Your Customer’s Head With Empathy Maps. Demian Farnworth does a good job of explaining the difference between sympathy and empathy, why empathy connects with customers, and how to figure out what will connect to your particular customers by using empathy map sessions with your team.
Why Empathy Instead of Sympathy?
Sympathy and empathy are closely related, but sympathy is more about the intellect and empathy is an emotional connection based on shared experience or emotions. You may not have experienced everything someone else has experienced, but the more you understand them the easier it is to move from sympathy to empathy because you have felt the same way.
Emotions trigger response far more than logic does, especially in marketing.
Understand Your Customer With This Tool
An empathy map is a tool. Demian Farnworth walks you through a sample session for using empathy maps to figure out what your customers are thinking, feeling, seeing, and doing. This is done with lots of input from a large group and takes things like your buyer personas, worldviews, and feedback you’ve collected from customers. I don’t think it will be a one-time session.
“What if I don’t have personas and world views?” This is a good question. This kind of research/brainstorming session will help you develop them, don’t you think? You will end up with a huge wall of insights and ideas on all kinds of sticky notes from your participants. Each group of notes will be about your customer, observations and feedback on what customers think, feel, see, and do. You may even have sections of things that frustrate them and what they’d like to see you do for them.
As time goes on, you add more insights as you get data from ad campaigns, site analyses, etc. It is an ongoing exploration of what is going on inside your customer’s head. And the more you understand your customer, the easier it is to empathize. The more you empathize, the more effective your marketing will be because the know/like/trust factor kicks in.