What is Empathetic Marketing?

empathetic marketing

Empathy is focusing on others’ feelings and perspectives and taking an active interest in their concerns; the ability to put yourself in another's place and to take that perspective into account in your relationship with the other person. Empathetic marketing is especially important during a crisis. Here's what you need to know.

How is Empathy Different from other Concepts:

Sympathy is, “I’m sorry for your sadness, I wish to help.”

Pity is, “Things are bad for you, you seem as though you need help.” Emotional contagion is, “You feel sad and now I feel sad.”

Empathy is, “I feel your sadness.”

Apathy is, “I don’t care how you feel.”


What marketing WITH empathy looks like:
  • Giving attention to and able to attune to a wide range of emotional signals
  • Showing sensitivity to and understand others’ perspectives and feelings - where a viewer thinks "that's how I feel" or "me too"
  • Being there to help others and demonstrating your understanding of their needs and feelings.
What marketing WITHOUT empathy looks like:
  • Stereotyping in any way
  • Showing no understanding, or misunderstand the challenges others’ are dealing with
  • Branding that is no longer relevant
  • Do not offer help or assistance in any way
  • Using the same messaging and hard sale as you always have
  • Coming across as indifferent or uncaring


Development Tips
  • Listening is the key to empathy. Talk 1-on-1 with your members/ donors/supporter and see how they are doing. Listen deeply for more than the other person’s words. Listen for the other person’s needs (i.e., to be respected, to be included, to be acknowledged?)
    • Identify underlying concerns that are not explicitly stated
    • Try to hear the emotions that accompany an expressed statement
  • Listen when you receive feedback from your constituents.
  • In your messaging, acknowledge what you’ve heard. "This is a scary time...' or "We know you're under a lot of stress..." or "We know is't more difficult to..." or "We know you miss..." or "We know you're excited to..."

*Source: Institute for Social & Emotional Intelligence Toolkit


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