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Customer Insight

Brand Building Requires Empathy For The Customer

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Brand Management Customer Research

You’ve all heard the timeless advice “know your customer”. Most marketers agree knowing the customer is fundamental to serving the customer. Basic stuff right? But I wonder how committed brand managers are to really knowing their customer? The very term “brand manager” implies something less that “brand builder”.
In my opinion, to be a brand builder requires empathy for the customer!

Empathy is a powerful tool for gaining richer insight into your customer’s experience at every step in their value chain. Really knowing what influences and drives customer behavior requires one to walk a mile in the customer’s shoes. You can’t build empathy with your customers sitting behind the glass in a focus group, or putting them through long complex surveys.

Live the Customer.

Do you live the customer?  Is your marketing organization driven to deeper action toward sharing the customer experience first hand across all touch points.  Marketing organizations that have an empathy-driven culture are brand builders, not brand managers. This is an important distinction, and one that has a profound effect on your brand’s competitive advantage. How you get to know your customer, from insight building and evaluative testing, to how you communicate with them in earned and paid media, at shelf, and how you engage with them in post-purchase- are all touch points for engaging customers with greater empathy. You can’t pay lip service to this idea. Empathy must be a core value of the promise your brand makes.

Customers know the real deal, especially in our current crowd-sourcing, transparent social media landscape. Customer empathy is not a social media activity or a marketing initiative to be executed on.

Empathy is a genuine desire to share experiences and build relationships as a basis for creating greater value in the marketplace. Brand builders engage with customers in real life!

Brand builders seek more than customer knowledge-they engage in a deeper, more personal consumer understanding that better equips them to impact brand growth. Brand builders are on a continual quest for engagement that brings them closer to their customers in ways customers value. Through conversation and observation, brand builders walk the talk. Brand builders know empathy and respect are the keys to earning customer advocacy.

New habits and routines.

Building brand equity through greater customer empathy may require your organization develop some new habits. Developing the mindset for increasing your level of customer empathy can transform your perspective from being a passive observer of behavior to a truly engaged collaborator, from product developer to game-changing innovator.

As you consider ideas and methods for increasing your commitment to developing stronger consumer empathy in your marketing organization, it’s important to remember what you know about your customers becomes the grist for what you do for your customers.

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