Updated: Aug 22, 2022
Tune into your empathetic side
In changing and uncertain times, it’s tough for financial agents and brokers to plan effective strategies to get leads that turn into sales – or keep customers. Here are four ways to craft new messaging or improve existing marketing to better connect with customers:
1. Show More Empathy
Understand the broader changes your customers are experiencing and adapt your marketing to show you know, you care, and that you want to help.
Gartner, an international business research and consulting firm, warns of the “empathy vacuum” caused by businesses being unresponsive to radical changes customers are experiencing or simply not being aware of the need to change how you understand your customers.
In a recent webinar presented by Sitecore, a web platform for customer experience management and automated multichannel marketing, product marketing VP David Schweer cited two major recommendations to build stronger customer relationships with U.S. consumers. The first is demonstrating that you understand what your customer needs and why, the second is providing insightful information and recommendations to help them solve their problems.
Empathy drives customer interaction because it demonstrates that you know what your customers are experiencing, and you know what you’re talking about.
Empathy is especially vital in customer-service. Schweer said consumers rate customer service as “very important,” and they expect to be treated right from their first interaction through the entire buying experience.
Having empathy for your customer means knowing what they are going through in life and career and being able to imagine what it would be like to be in your customer’s situation. Being more empathetic requires a better understanding of your customer “at the moment” and communicating with them in ways that show you care, Schweer said.
It’s about action, more than words, so give customers something that’s relatable, relational, and helpful and that places your business as a problem solver for your customer’s situation and needs.
2. Know Your Customers
Most sales and advisory processes are built on knowing your customer. However, the “empathy vacuum” Gartner discovered indicates that many sales and marketing approaches overlay what salespeople or marketers think onto what they believe customers think, want, or feel.
The Sitecore 2022 Brand Authenticity Report found that 85% of customers say they want brands to reflect “real life” more than “perfect life” experiences. While only 4 in 10 believe that brands should be political advocates, 59% in the study said they choose to shop at brands with values that align with their own.
Agencies should think through who they are talking to and what they are challenged by before crafting a marketing message. If price shopping is the only appeal, you could be ignoring your customer’s deeper needs and giving you and your company the wrong impression in your customer’s mind, thus missing opportunities for up-sales and follow-up sales.
Of course, everyone wants a lower price, but more importantly, customers want fair value from someone they trust and from whom they believe understands them.
Shep Hyken’s recent Achieving Customer Amazement study found 50% of customers would pay up to 10% more for goods and services in almost every industry if they receive excellent customer service.
Agents, advisors, and other professionals should determine the kinds of customers they’re seeking by taking a good look at themselves. Who do you make friends with or what are your interests? What irritates you when you buy something? What would you improve? Answers to these questions can drive empathy for customers.
We all target customers based on type, ability to purchase, and potential need for your product or service. However, to build relationships for long-term customer retention and sales, narrow your customer segments by the emotional links you may share with them and connect on a deeper level that goes beyond churning.
3. Use Data for Efficiency
Finding customers is always a challenge, but to make your job easier it’s helpful to outline just who your customer is and what he or she is going through relative to your product or service offering. What challenges do they face at work and home? Why would they consider your service? What are the main obstacles they face in making a purchase, especially making a purchase from you? What problem are they’re seeking a solution for?
Whatever you put together can be categorized by readily available consumer data segmented by demographics such as income, geography, education, and other basics. Data points offer insights into lifestyle, ethnicity, home size and value, and other key indicators. This helps focus your marketing, messaging, and promotions to the specific types of customers who would most likely purchase from you.
If you connect with customers at certain life stages (for example, marriages, births, major life purchases, birthdays) with a product or service that meets their needs at that time and communicates to them in relevant ways, they are more likely to see that you know them and what they need. They will more likely trust you as a provider.
When you reach out to people you understand, you speak relevantly and with authority to build trust and maximize your marketing response. The closer you get to your ideal customer, the more likely they will respond. Data and customer segmentation can drive that.
4. Create Multi-Path Media Strategies
Today’s customers cross over many media channels when shopping or considering purchases. They discover a possible purchase, research it, mull over it, then decide not only who or where to buy from but also how. For professional service companies, that means having multiple ways to connect with customers based on how they are shopping: mobile, online, print media, mailers, or other media.
Content becomes important in this process. Content is more than messaging, it’s all the information you provide to help your customers solve the problems they’re working on, build trust in your capability to solve them, and gain confidence to buy from you.
Today’s customers cross over many media channels when shopping or considering purchases. They discover a possible purchase, research it, mull it over, then decide not only who or where to buy from but also how. For professional service companies, that means having multiple ways to connect with customers based on how they are shopping: mobile, online, print media, mailers, or other media percentages.
Consumer networking is often done through events, sponsorships, and community participation, but consumers also can be reached through digital and direct marketing that’s relevant and meaningful to their immediate needs. Meaningful combines empathy with compelling information to help customers solve their problem and reach a decision to buy from you.
When laying out who you want to reach and where you want to reach them, direct mail takes your message to decision makers with emotion and empathy that speaks directly to business needs. Digital tools such as social media, SEO ads, and retargeting ads help connect and keep you in the game to be where customers are when they are searching, discovering, or researching their purchasing solutions.
Direct-mail marketing continues to be highly valued among consumers and is the second-largest channel for U.S. ad spend because it works.
Olde School Marketing is a great partner in helping you develop strategies that connect with empathy, professionalism, and impact.