Winning Hearts and Minds: How to Use Empathy to Write Compelling Content

To create a genuine connection with your audience using messaging requires one simple yet powerful quality…empathy.

It’s a quality that doesn’t always come easily but can be learned with time and intentional practice.

And a quality that’ll serve your business well if you use it right way.

Empathy is the bedrock of helping your audience feel seen and heard. It creates connections that lead to long-term customer loyalty rather than hit-it-and-quit-it sales.

And that’s what you want to build a sustainable business.

It’s why I believe in empathy-powered content.

What is empathy-powered content?

Content written with the main goal to create a genuine connection with your audience. It starts with seeking to get to know your audience, how they think, feel and behave, before writing a single word.

It’s content that says, “hey, I see you, I hear you and I want to understand you.”

It’s content that shows you see things from their perspective.

Because customers want to know you understand their problems, experiences and goals before they consider your solution as the answer.

So, how can we create empathy-powered content? In this blog, I share 4 key strategies to writing content rooted in empathy.

#1 Identify your customer

To move beyond the transactional relationship with your customer and build a deep, enduring connection, a good place to start is by identifying your target customer.

And this is more than considering typical demographics like age, gender, socioeconomic background, etc. You want to connect with your audience on a deeper level. So that requires considering their personality, drives and fears.

One effective way to do that is by using Carl Jung’s 12 Brand Archetypes, a framework commonly used by marketers. Just as you would do as part of your branding strategy, you can use the framework for your ideal customer. This framework helps you appeal more accurately to your customer’s desires and create a human connection.

So, let’s say your target customer is The Hero archetype. This is what their profile would look like:

  • Core value: mastery
  • Desire: to leave a mark, prove their worth and improve the world
  • Drives: to be strong, courageous and competent
  • Greatest fear: weakness and vulnerability

Based on this profile, you know your customer wants to be the best they can be. So, you’d use your content to appeal to their drive to continually grow and develop and tell them how your solution can help them do that. What are the emotions attached to this type of personality? Confidence, courage, boldness. To encourage emotional connection, you’d use language that inspires and empowers them to achieve their goals and desires.

If you haven’t explored the Brand Archetypes from your customers’ perspective, I encourage you to apply it. This practical framework will empower you to see your customer through new eyes and transform how you craft your message.

Graphic illustrating Carl Jung's 12 Brand Archetypes

Above image: Carl Jung’s 12 Brand Archetypes

#2 Do your research

Now that you have a profile for your customer, it’s time to dig deeper. You want to appreciate their perspectives so you can speak to that and show that you understand.

There are a couple of ways you can do this.

You can go on social platforms and view posts and read comments shared by those who fall within your target customer profile. For example, Twitter threads – people tend to get honest and candid on Twitter!

You can read through forums like Reddit where people openly share their problems and exchange opinions, feelings and thoughts on various topics. Search for conversations about your industry or the specific category your customer falls into. What are they saying?

For example, if your target customers are small business owners, scroll through the subreddit for small business and you’ll find a wealth of real stories by real people. You get a glimpse of what their struggling with, their wins and losses, their dreams and fears. You can use these insights to then shape content that strongly resonates with them.

Screenshot of Reddit forum for small business

#3 Listen

Another obvious way to create empathy, both in business and in our personal lives, is to listen. It’s easier said than done, right? When was the last time you truly listened to someone in your world and they said, “thanks for listening, I feel like you get me”?

That’s the kind of response you want from your audience. Now, they may not give you that feedback in so many words but instead demonstrate it through their loyalty.

To hear real, personal experiences, try asking your existing customers about their stories. How were they feeling before they found you? What were they struggling with most? Why did they choose you? How did they feel after using your solution?

If you can get face-to-face with your customers rather than just communicating through written word, that’s even better. There’s something about watching someone tell their story. Seeing their pain and joys through their eyes, that helps you feel what they feel and transports you into their lived experience.

Your goal is to listen enough to imagine yourself “walking in their shoes”. I believe that’s more than idiom. It’s the key that unlocks understanding and fosters connection.

“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” 
– Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

#4 Tell a story

You can listen to your customers’ stories and you can share your stories.

I believe storytelling builds emotional connection like nothing else can. Why else would I cry while watching The Lion King, a story about a lion cub (so far removed from my own human experience) other than the power of a story?

To inject empathy into your copy, use metaphors and stories to help communicate your message in a way your audience understands.

Get creative and appeal to the senses – help your audience feel, see, hear, taste, even smell the picture you’re presenting them with. Help them experience it for themselves and connect on multiple levels.

That connection will bring them back for more.

Do you use any of these strategies when creating your content? Maybe there are other ways you like to build a genuine connection with your audience to create loyal supporters. If so, drop a comment below!

And if you’re interested in more targeted strategies and tips on how to write empathy-powered copy, sign up for my emails where I give you a monthly dose of copywriting wisdom.

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